4.1. The Sovereignty of God

One the most prevalent doctrines throughout Scripture is the sovereignty of God (Job Job 9:17; Job 33:13; Ecc. Ecc. 3:14; Isa. Isa. 46:10-11; Mtt. Mat. 10:29; Eph. Eph. 1:11) and the book of Revelation is no exception. Within the book of Revelation, God’s sovereignty is demonstrated by His powerful intervention in the events of history. From the opening of the first seal by the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 6:1+) to the pouring forth of the seventh bowl, whereupon God pronounces “It is done!” (Rev. Rev. 16:17+), it is manifestly clear that the physical and spiritual events which transpire are the direct result of God’s initiative.

This sovereign might is seen in the incredible use of ἐδόθη [edothē] ( . . . “was given”), a divine passive that points to God’s control of the events. This verb is used frequently in the book (Rev. Rev. 6:2+, Rev. 6:4+, Rev. 6:8+, Rev. 6:11+; Rev. 7:2+; Rev. 8:2+, Rev. 8:3+; Rev. 9:1+, Rev. 9:3+, Rev. 9:5+; Rev. 11:1+, Rev. 11:2+; Rev. 12:14+; Rev. 13:5+, Rev. 13:7+, Rev. 13:14+, Rev. 13:15+; Rev. 16:8+) and is especially clustered in the passages on the four horsemen (Rev. Rev. 6:1-8+) and the activities of the beast (Rev. Rev. 13:5-15+). In other words, even the actions of the forces of evil are controlled by God. Everything they do comes only by the permission of God.1

The very descriptions of God throughout the book emphasize the immutability of His purposes, which presents a threat to those who oppose Him but provides ultimate security for those who trust in Him.

Revelation presents a sovereign God whose purposes must be victorious. He is almighty (Rev. Rev. 1:8+), everlasting (Rev. Rev. 4:8+), seated upon the throne of the universe (Rev. Rev. 4:2+), the Creator of all things (Rev. Rev. 4:11+). His authority is greater than that of evil (Rev. Rev. 12:10+), and His name is the security of those who trust in Him (Rev. Rev. 14:1+).2

The sovereignty of God is manifest in the visions of heaven and His throne, an image which occurs some forty-six times in the book.3 God’s sovereign control is illustrated by His role as Creator (Rev. Rev. 3:14+; Rev. 4:11+; Rev. 10:6+) and the necessity of His sustenance for its continuance (Rev. Rev. 20:11+; Rev. 21:1+).4

Notes

1 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 32.

2 Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 198.

3 “One of the predominant images is that of God on his throne . . . occurring forty-six times.”—Osborne, Revelation, 33.

4 “The ultimate proof of his control over this world is that he both created and sustains it.”—Ibid., 32-33.