Our Sovereign Sustainer

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (v. 3).

- Hebrews 1:1-4

Divine providence, which is nothing less than the exercise of God’s sovereignty in and over His creation, comforts us because it indicates that the Lord is capable of keeping His promises. Were He not in control of all things, it would be possible for Him not to succeed in accomplishing His plan. Because He is sovereign, we know that His pledge to work all things together for our good is not mere wishful thinking (see Rom. 8:28).

According to Scripture, we can identify at least three aspects of God’s providence. First, the Lord exercised His providence in His work of creation. Plainly, there would be nothing for Him to govern if He had not created the universe. Furthermore, we see in His creation of the universe the first exercise of His sovereignty in relation to that which He has created. Genesis 1 shows us that our Lord’s rule is so e˜ective that He simply needed to issue a decree, and the universe came into existence.

Second, once the Lord created the universe and everything in it, He did not leave it to maintain its own existence. Instead, the created order remains eternally dependent on its Creator for its continued existence. As today’s passage indicates, the Son of God—as well as the Father and the Holy Spirit by virtue of their union as the triune Lord of all—“upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). God is the only being who possesses the attribute of self-existence. He is dependent on nothing else. If He were to cease to exist—which is impossible—all other things would cease to exist as well. But if all of creation were to cease to exist, God would continue on. He has the power of being in Himself, and we depend fully on Him for our existence. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

The third aspect of divine providence is divine governance. This refers to the exercise of His providence as Ruler and King (Ps. 47:7). There are two significant truths about His governance to keep in mind. First, God’s governance is permanent. Though earthly kingdoms rise and fall, the Lord’s reign is everlasting. None can overthrow Him and replace Him as creation’s Sovereign (Ps. 2:2–4). Second, God is sovereign in the exercise of His providential governance. Our Creator sits over us in authority, issuing commands to His creation. But His sovereignty goes beyond that. Unlike human kings who cannot always get their subjects to do what they want, God works out all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). What is established in His sovereign decree cannot fail to come to pass.

Coram Deo

We can lose control over the things that we govern. Our property can be confiscated for just or unjust reasons. Our children can rebel and never return to the family. Yet this is not so with our Creator. Nothing takes place except that which He has ordained will take place. That does not mean every event receives His blessing, but it does mean that it would be foolish to believe anything we or any other person can do will derail His accomplishment of His purposes.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 15:18
Job 38–41
Daniel 4:3
Acts 17:24–28

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