One recent conversation has led me to wonder if there is too much separating the Love of God from the Sovereignty of God. Why so we do that? Do we want that? Does our record of God’s acts in history reflect this?
Here is the layout of the Covenant in the Torah and in early Israelite history. It might help us understand the love and sovereignty aspects of God better.
Genesis 15 – God threatens himself if He fails the covenant. This is a bold move. It shows that God takes His vow so seriously, that He will take blame for any failures on His part (the failures never happen in the Bible).
Exodus 2 – God rescues his people from oppression (in remembrance of Genesis 15). God is taking His promise seriously, not because He should be destroyed for not doing so, but because in Genesis 15 He loved us so much that He said He should be destroyed if His love proved to be untrustworthy.
Deuteronomy 7:9 – Recalls that God has been faithful in love and exercised authority to fulfill that love. That is a big point that the Bible wants to make about God, all the way up to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Joshua’s call to follow 24:14-15 reflects a call to choose whom you will serve. In this renewal of covenant, we see that God is sovereign in the that He is powerful enough to fulfill His love for us every time. This is important. God does not just exude power but he is not a love-sick puppy either. In the words of C. S. Lewis about Aslan, the Lion in the Chronicles of Narnia who represented Christ, “‘He’ll be coming and going,’ he had said. ‘One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild,’ you know. Not like a tame lion.'” He knows when he is need, and as Lucy so well adds in the movie based on this book, “…but He is Good.”
The main gist of the Joshua passage calls us to choose. It is the call to respond to the Gospel, God’s Kingdom break into world history. He gives us freedom to choose our path, but His will for the people, whatever they choose, will prevail.
Covenants show God’s sovereignty in the text, but the nature of their being offered is evidence of love. Though I would say that God’s sovereignty acts in response to His love, both our equal in that they are equally exercised. Even in God’s speaking and our responding, the same point is evident.
Do you think God is more sovereign or more loving? Why? What would it look like to respond to a God who is equally loving and sovereign?