Is God sovereign over every second of time?

Question

I have read a lot about God's sovereignty, but can locate no modern day examples that I could use to show how God controls everything? I am seeking something about his control of time. Please help.

Answer

God is sovereign. He is sovereign over all, even over such miracles as the time of the Cross - and every other person, event, minute, and second - over all creation. He does everything he pleases (Exod. 15:18; 1 Chron. 29:11-12; 2 Chron. 20:6; Psa. 22:28); while retaining the right to control all things he actually and actively ordains and brings to pass everything that takes place on the earth (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6-8; Job 9:12; 12:6-10; Psa 33:11; 115:3; 135:6; Isa. 14:24; 45:7; Acts 15:17-18; Eph. 1:11); he controls the simple roll of a dice (Prov. 16:33), to the greatest events of the earth (e.g. Isa. 45:1-4); he is bringing all things to pass according to his will. He governs and superintends "coincidental" happenings (1 Kings 22:20, 34, 37), the wicked actions of men (Gen. 45:5; 50:20; Exod. 4:21; Judges 14:1-4; Psa. 76:10; Prov. 16:4; 21:1; Isa 44:28; Amos 3:6; Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28), men's good deeds (John 15:16; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:12-13), the actions of both evil spirits and good angels (1 Sam. 16:14-16; 1 Kings 22:19-23; 1 Chron. 21:1; 2 Sam. 24:1; Psa. 103:20-21; 104:4), the habits of animals (Num. 22:28; 1 Kings 17:4; Psa. 29:9; Jer. 8:7; Ezek. 32:4; Dan. 6:22), and the operations of all creation (Gen. 8:22; Psa. 104:5-10, 13-14, 19-20; Mark 4:39).

A modern day example of this that can stretch us back to the beginning could be stated somewhat like this:

Though every temporal example of the eternal is limited and should not be stretched too far, think of a jar of magnificent "white" marbles. There are 100 marbles in a beautiful crystal jar. The number 100 may represent time's perfection, as designed by God, who created time "in the beginning" (Gen. 1:1, 31). In addition, 100 may represent each and every event since creation. Each marble is touching and inter-reacting with all the other marbles around them. We cannot move one marble without changing its relationship to every other marble in the jar. Even a slight shift, a small turn of one marble, changes the relationship of how all the other marbles in the jar relate to one another.

If God is said to control only One marble (i.e. in context above, the time of Jesus), then he must necessarily control each and every marble, each and every event, each and every person, each and every second in all eternity. He cannot control one without controlling all the others. God is wholly and holy sovereign (see below).

From here we may progress the example and stain one "white" marble with "black." We can call this the "Adam Marble" (a sin marble, a depraved marble, a death marble, etc.) - Gen. 3.

God was not surprised by this "white" marble stained "black" with deadly sin. He had planned for this in advance (cf. Matt. 25:34; Eph. 1:4, 5, 11), as Jesus is the Lamb that was slain "before the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8; cf. 1 Pet. 1:20).

But, note that God is not the "creator" of this "black" marble. He created the "white" ones, but is not the author of the "white" one stained "black." Adam had been instructed not to eat from the perfectly "good" (Gen. 1:31) "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:17). Adam's sin was not that he ate from a "bad" tree, but that he disobeyed God in removing "good" from "good" (good" fruit from a "good" tree that God himself created and authored) against God's command. Adam was disobedient. Man, not God (Jas. 1:13-15; 1 John 1:5), authored evil and thus stained himself - unwilling (Rom. 8:5-8) to reflect the "white" of his Creator.

This "blackness" of sin and death changed the relationship of each and every marble in the jar. It changed the relationship of all events and persons; it infected every second of creation since its introduction into the jar. All the marbles in the jar are now "black" as they have been "stained" / totally corrupted by the Fall.

We remember that God blessed Adam and told them to 'be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and govern it, reign over it' (Gen. 1:28). Adam and Eve were to spread the "elect" images (Adam and Eve had not yet fallen, so the only image they could have spread was "good" or "white," or "elect," Gen. 1:31) of God over all the earth. However, after the Fall, Adam named his wife Eve "the mother of all living" (Gen. 3:20). She was now the mother of both the stained "white" and the "black" marbles in the jar (the world); cf. the elect and the non-elect, both the wheat and tares (Matt 13:24-30), sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-46), the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Thus, not only were there now "white" marbles stained by the Adam Marble of sin in the jar, but pure "black" marbles - that had never been "white" (John 8:44) and never would be (Rev. 13:8; 20:15). Everything had changed. New black marbles had been introduced. The relationship of every marble changed. All creation was now depraved (cf. Rom. 8:19-23).

However, God is still sovereign. He had another "white" marble up his proverbial sleeve. It, or rather He, is the "Pearl of Great Price Marble" (Matt. 13:35-46), the "Second and Last Man Adam Marble" (1 Cor. 15:45, 47 = Jesus), the "Seed of the Woman Marble" (Gen. 3:15), the "Redemption Marble" introduced by grace in the Garden (Gen 3:21). (note that God does not cover stained "white" marbles with mere fig leaves of man's own making, Gen. 3:7. Mere fig leaves can but temporarily hide what is still under them - blackness (sin, death, etc.). God rather makes, clothes, and enjoys "white" eternal raiment (Dan. 7:9; Rev. 3:18; 19:8; cf. Mark 9:3). "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool," Isa. 1:18; cf. Rev. 3:4-5).

Jesus, "the Pearl of Great Price Marble," is introduced into the jar (world) in the "fulness of time" (Gal. 4:4). He came for his own - that is his elect (stained "white" marbles), but not for any other - that is the non-elect (pure "black" marbles, that had never been "white"). Jesus came for his "wheat" (Matt. 13:24, "a man who sowed good seed in his field;" cf. Matt. 13:27), not the enemies "tares" ("his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat," Matt. 13:25, 28). In finality, the Pearl of Great Price Marble will separate the redeemed "white" marbles, from the "black" for eternity ("Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn," Matt. 13:30). In the new heavens and the new earth [jar] (Rev. 21:1), abides the 100 "white" marbles (elect before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1:4-5, 11), while Hell will consist solely of "black" marbles (Rev. 20:11-15) - the unbelieving "seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15); that is those that came "only only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10) the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).