God is great. His greatness is not because he predetermines the details of our lives. His greatness resides in his character and his actions.
“ For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” – Psalm 135:5-6
The “great” manipulator
It is admirable for our Calvinist friends to seek the exaltation of God in their doctrine of God’s sovereign control over every thought, word, and deed, but I fear their doctrine has unintended consequences that do not exalt the Almighty.
According to their doctrine of sovereignty (a term not in the Bible), God’s greatness is derived from his absolute manipulation of the circumstances in our lives. They explain that if man is able to act outside the manipulation of God, then God’s plan can be thwarted by man and God would lose his greatness. They ask, “What comfort is there in a God that does not manipulate every circumstance of your life?”
A rigged system
This flawed view of God sounds like a board game I played once when I was younger. My opponent was far inferior to me in skill but he had sovereign control of the pieces before we played. As he laid out the pieces he strategically placed them so that he would win. He then established the rules so that I could not thwart his goal. As we finished the game my opponent won and he received the glory. After all, he had created a system that would conclude in his ultimate victory.
This does not make him great! The system was rigged! It does not magnify God’s greatness merely because he has absolute control. Any child can wield absolute control for their own glory at the expense of damning millions while arbitrarily favoring others.
God is greater than all of us
The Bible declares God’s greatness, dominion, and power. What makes him great is not that he manipulates every circumstance of our lives. It is his character and his works that make him great.
He does not cheat, steal, lie, or deceive (Num 23:19). He is great in kindness, mercy, love, and grace (Psalm 117:2, Eph 2:4, and Rom 5:8, 21). His power is mighty and his works “terrible” (Psalm 47:2). His manifold wisdom is enough to thwart the enemies’ plans through his purpose hidden in Christ before the world began (2 Tim 1:9, Eph 3:9-11).
If my childhood game was not manipulated and my opponent won through superior skill then he truly would have been greater than I. God’s greatness is proven through his character and actions.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.” – Psalm 104:1
God’s great victory
Where is the comfort? It comes from a greater God who is far superior to the intellect of man and Satan. He has achieved victory by his greatness, he did it in secret, and now it is revealed for his glory!
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” – Titus 2:13-14
The fact that this great mystery had to be kept a secret tells us that God is the victor throughout history because of his wisdom and not because he rigged the system (1 Cor 2:7-8).