Rabbi Schneider - Is God Sovereign?
When we don't have a proper view of the Hebrew Bible, that Jewish people call the Tanakh and Christians call the Old Testament; When we don't have a proper view of the Tanakh or Old Testament, beloved, we end up with a very distorted view of who God is and a very shallow understanding of our Christian faith. You see the foundation of our faith in scripture is the Old Testament; That's why the first book in the New Testament, Matthew 1 verse 1, begins by saying, "This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David, the son of Abraham". Immediately the New Testament brings us back to the first pages of the Old Testament. So we need to understand our foundation. We need to have the right orientation of the scriptures. And when we don't have a right orientation of the scriptures, because we spend all our time only studying the New Testament, we end up once again beloved, with wrong theology.
I remember as a brand new believer, many of you know my testimony, I was supernaturally saved in 1978 as a Jewish person, when Yeshua, when Jesus appeared to me in my bedroom. I started telling everybody about my experience. Eventually somebody said to me, "You need to go to church". And they invited me to a service with them. The service that I'm speaking of now, was on a Wednesday night. And the evangelist started teaching and preaching. There was hundreds of young people there. And the picture he started painting, it seemed like to me, was that God was up in heaven somewhere and He wanted to do all these things, but He couldn't because man wouldn't let Him. And it almost was if God was frustrated, He was this frustrated God in the heavens, you know wringing His hands because His purposes were being frustrated by man.
And something in me just really repudiated that. I understand that man, beloved, has a will. But it was like he was painting God as almost being impotent, that He couldn't accomplish what He wanted to do, because man down here was stopping Him. And again, something in my spirit just said, "This is not God. This is not the God that I know is God". And the story escalated and after the message was over and the service was concluding I mentioned to my friend that you know what the preacher was saying didn't really line up with the scriptures, because I had studied the Bible a lot by then. And my friend didn't really trust me. So they went up to the evangelist and they started talking to the evangelist. And I noticed they were up there for quite a while.
So slowly I kind of meandered up there and walked up to where my friend was talking to the evangelist. And the evangelist said to my friend, pointing at me, "Is he the one that told you that? He refuses to read his Bible". And it was just a situation where the truth was, that God is not a frustrated being up in the sky that can't do what He wants to do, because man won't let Him. The truth we find out when we study the Hebrew Bible is that God is sovereign.
We read in the book of Daniel for example, that after God humbled Nebuchadnezzar and caused Nebuchadnezzar to go mad because Nebuchadnezzar wouldn't humble himself. After Nebuchadnezzar had learned his lesson that he shouldn't walk pridefully, that he shouldn't be arrogant; After God brought judgment on him and Nebuchadnezzar learned how powerful and sovereign God is, Nebuchadnezzar made a declaration in the book of Daniel. And he said, "I have come to understand that God is God above and on the earth beneath and He does whatever He wants and nobody can stop Him or hold back His hand". In other words, in Judaism God is sovereign. He's God in heaven above and He's God on the earth beneath.
And so He's not a frustrated God up in the sky that can't accomplish what He wants to. But the problem is that many Christians since they don't have a theology that has been developed through the study of the Hebrew scriptures, they wind up with a faulty understanding of God, even as this evangelist did. I could go into many other examples of this, including healing. For example, it's unfortunate today that many of the people that are really making impact on the earth by teaching healing and being used of the Lord to bring healing to God's people, they have a theology that limits God's activity and they say that God could never and would never bring illness into somebody's life or bring judgment into somebody's life; that everything bad that happens is from the devil. But the truth is beloved, when we read the Old Testament scriptures, when we read the Hebrew Bible we see that God does use everything for His own purpose. He can use good things and bad things.
The Lord said for example in the book of Isaiah, "I am God and there is no other. I cause well being and I create calamity. I form light and I create darkness. I am God that does all these things". We see this even in the life of Paul in the New Testament, where Paul said that because of the abundance of the revelation that was given him, there was a messenger of Satan that was sent to him to torment him in the flesh. Now where did the messenger of Satan come from? The messenger of Satan beloved, was an instrument of God; because Paul said that because of the abundance of revelation that was given to him. A messenger of Satan was assigned to him to torment him. Paul said, "To keep him from exalting himself". So in other words, this instrument, this messenger of Satan was actually a tool of the Lord to keep Paul humble and to keep him from exalting himself.
Paul said he prayed to the Lord three times to take it away and after the third time the Lord answered Paul and He said, "Paul My grace is sufficient for you". In other words, I'm not gonna take this thing away. I'm not gonna take this messenger of Satan that's causing you pain in your life away. God said, "Because Paul My power is gonna be perfected in your weakness". In other words, as Paul was forced to stay on his knees, because of this battle against the enemy that he was going through in his life, God was perfecting the power of the Holy Spirit in him and keeping him from exalting himself.
And so people that don't understand the Hebrew scriptures don't have a framework to even understand the New Testament scriptures. In the Hebrew Bible God sent the serpents to bite thousands of the children of Israel from the desert, because of their disobedience. God caused Miriam to get leprosy, because she was coming against Moses. God caused the earth to open up and swallow up Korah and his company, because they were in rebellion against God's leadership. In other words, God used bad things as well as good things. He is Adon Olam beloved, He's the Master of the Universe and to understand His glory and to understand His purposes and to accurately understand the New Testament scriptures, we have to understand, listen now, the Hebrew Bible as well.
So simply getting back to where I began by saying that sometimes people that believe in healing, they have no room in their theology that God could ever be using an illness for His own purpose. But the truth is, beloved, this does not line up with the totality of God's Word. God is a healing God, but God has a timing and God has a purpose in everything. I want to encourage you just as a side note, if you need healing, continue to believe God for your healing. He's a healer and He's gonna bring everyone of His sons and daughters to completeness, to complete perfection. But if you're struggling right now, you should also be looking to the Lord as to what He may be wanting to teach you or what He wants you to gain from going through the process; because after all, He could heal you just like that, right? I want to encourage you to have faith, but I want to encourage you to also take into account the counsel of the entire word of God and in order to do that we need to know both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.
And so I say all that today as we're beginning this series or really in the second episode now, that it's so important for those of us that have spent almost all of our time in our study of scripture in the New Testament, you need and we need to understand that it's important beloved, to understand the Hebrew scriptures as well. And I want to encourage you, if you didn't get last week's message to go back and get it. I don't have time to review it all today, but sufficed to say that Jesus Himself used the Hebrew Bible to defeat the devil. Paul used the Hebrew Bible to witness. Jesus used the Hebrew Bible to witness. It was the only Bible they had. So my thought is, if it was good enough for them, it's good enough for me. It has application for your life and my life today. If we only study the New Testament, once again beloved, we're gonna come up with a very shallow understanding of the Christian faith and our theology is gonna be distorted.
So, with that introduction today I want to move forward and I want to talk about another misconception that many people have and that is, that they view the God of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament as kind of a God of law, that He was a law giver and that He punished people when they disobeyed. And they see Him in the Hebrew scriptures as a God of justice that punished people when they didn't obey Him and they view the God of the New Testament as a God of grace. And it seems to many of God's people that He's a different God in the Hebrew Bible than He is in the New Testament. Again, they view the God of the Hebrew Bible as this harsh law giver that almost mercilessly punish people when they disobeyed and then they turn to the New Testament and it's suddenly they feel like God just you know changed faces. Now He's a God of grace, now He's a God of love and people are left scratching their heads saying, "But it seems like these are two different Gods. Is this the same God? The God of the Old Testament seems like a different God to me than the God of the New Testament".
So what I want to do is speak to that now and help you to understand that the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is the author of the Hebrew Bible and He's the same yesterday, today and forever. In other words church, the God of the Hebrew scriptures, the God of the Tanakh, is the same God that is revealed in the New Testament. So let's begin by examining this in the most fundamental and elementary form and that is let's look at God's nature, the nature of God. Is the nature of God that we see revealed in the Hebrew Bible consistent with the nature of God that we see revealed in the New Testament? So let's ask ourselves this question, what is the attribute of God that is most exalted in the Hebrew Bible and is that same attribute the attribute of God that we see most exalted in the New Testament? To answer that question we're gonna go now to the book of Isaiah.
I want to take you to the book of Isaiah today, chapter 6. Now Isaiah was a real unique prophet, because many of the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures were not highly educated or didn't hold high positions in society. But Isaiah was unique in the sense that he came from a much more sophisticated background and he was actually a prophet that served under many kings. But his call began under the king of Uzziah. Let's take a look now at Isaiah 6, looking at Isaiah's call and the encounter he had with the living God, the God of Israel and your Father today. I'm beginning there in verse number 1. Isaiah's writing, He says, "In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet and with two he flew and one called out to another".
Here's where I want you to really key in now. Isaiah's looking at these divine beings around the throne of God and they were calling out to one another. Listen to what they were saying. Remember Isaiah's seeing directly into the heavens. He's seeing God on the throne. Isaiah said, "I saw the Lord sitting on the throne. Seraphim were all around Him". And listen to what the seraphim were saying. "And one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, is Yahweh, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.' And the foundation of the threshold trembled at the voice of him who called out while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, 'Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'"
So first of all I want you to understand that we need to take Isaiah at his word, that he saw the Lord high and lifted up. God allowed him to see in the spirit world. Isaiah saw the Lord on His throne and the thing that he heard happening in heaven was these angels were calling out to one another. Listen, "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, is Yahweh God Almighty, the Lord of hosts". So what is unique here above all else and I want to point out is that this threefold repetition of any of God's attributes is only seen one time in the entire Old Testament, one time in the entire Tanakh. In other words, Isaiah exalts the attribute of God's holiness above everything else. In other words, Isaiah doesn't say, "Almighty, almighty, almighty is the Lord of hosts". And he doesn't say, "All righteous, all righteous, all righteous, or all loving". He uses the word holy. "Holy, Holy, Holy" and it's the only time once again beloved one, in the entire Tanakh, the entire Old Testament, where any of God's attributes, listen now, are repeated three times in a row; "Holy, Holy, Holy".
Now, because this attribute is the only time where we see any of His attributes repeated three times in a row, this tells us that this is God's most exalted attribute and Isaiah literally sees it being exalted as His most exalted attribute in heaven. The question we want to ask ourselves now is, is this consistent with the attribute of God's nature that is most highly exalted in the Brit Chadashah, which is the Hebrew word for the New Testament. Well, I'm gonna show you something fascinating now. We're gonna go to the book of Revelation chapter 4, because in Revelation chapter 4 the Apostle John is on the island of Patmos and he has an encounter much like Isaiah did. The Apostle John is called up to see in the spirit world and he sees God on the throne.
Let's see what John saw. I'm gonna begin reading now from the book of Revelation chapter 4. I'm gonna begin reading at verse number 1. Hear the Word of God. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but hallelujah the Word of God abides forever. John is speaking here. He said, "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.' Immediately," John says, "I was in the Spirit; and behold a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne". Doesn't this sound like what Isaiah saw? Isaiah was also called to see into the heavens and he saw God on the throne.
Let's continue on. John writes, "And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance". And by the way beloved, let's not allow different perceptions of the rainbow to take away the fact that in scripture we see that around the throne of God was a rainbow. It's an exclamation of God's beauty. Let's continue on, "Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne came flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God, and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal and in the center and around the throne," listen now, listen, "were four living creatures".
I want to go down now to the 8th verse, "And the four living creatures". Where were the four living creatures? They were around the throne of God in heaven. In verse 8, "And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings are full of eyes around and within; and day after night they do not cease to say, 'Holy'", listen, "'Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty'". In other words, John saw the same thing that Isaiah saw. It's the only place in the entire New Testament where any of God's attributes are repeated three times in a row; His holiness. "Holy, Holy, Holy," John said he saw, "Is the Lord God Almighty". The angels screaming it in their heart full of love and passion for the Lord from heaven.
Listen, the New Testament and the Old Testament are consistent. They both teach that God's holiness is His most exalted attribute. Continue with me next week as we go through this awesome journey down the Word of God.