The Sovereign Lord

The phrase “the sovereign Lord” occurs 282 times in the NIV translation of God’s Word. Want to guess how many times the phrase is used in the book of Ezekiel? Two hundred and ten!

Of course, for God to be sovereign means that He has supreme authority. He’s the boss.

Why this phrase so much in Ezekiel’s ministry to Israel during that time? I think it’s because, at least in part, that Ezekiel prophesied to God’s people when they were captured by the Babylonians.

I’m not sure exactly what it was like to be ruled by a pagan like Nebuchadnezzar, but it certainly wasn’t fun! This is the same man who took the best of Israel’s youth to attempt to indoctrinate them into the Babylonian culture (see Daniel).

Remember, Israel got into this mess because of their own idolatry. They went off the rails after King David left, started fighting amongst themselves, then split into two (Israel and Judah, respectively)–in a large part because of their own idolatry. The sovereign Lord raised up Nebuchadnezzar for the very purpose of judging Israel.

A Pedal Tone

Let me use an illustration to explain what I think Ezekiel may be doing in using that phrase so many times. In music there’s a term called a “pedal tone.” It’s when one note of music is repeated over and over and over again (oftentimes in a lower tone) while various melodies and chords are played over top of that one tone. Over time, that tone can become both haunting and comforting: haunting because it never stops, but comforting because as it continues its consistency, you can learn to depend on it.

Ezekiel keeps playing that one tone over and over again: the Sovereign Lord, the Sovereign Lord, the Sovereign Lord. Two hundred and ten times. What might that do for Judah (the half of the nation Ezekiel was exiled with) during that time? I suggest it was a not-so-subtle reminder about who was in charge in spite of their judgment and oppression.

For those of us that know this Sovereign Lord personally, the reminder that He is sovereign is comforting because we know He will work out everything in the end. Congress is not in charge. The Sovereign Lord is. Putin is not in charge. The Sovereign Lord is.

But for those who are still rebelling against this Sovereign Lord, this tone can be haunting. You are not in charge, dear friend. The Sovereign Lord is. You cannot be in charge of your own life for even one day without making a mess of things. If you try, you will only incur the judgment of this Sovereign Lord. You are not sovereign, He is. You are not the Lord. He is. He is. He is. He is. He is.

But there’s good news! It’s that the Sovereign Lord also longs to be the Saving Lord for all who will trust in Him.