Of all the doctrines of the Bible, none is so offensive to human nature as . . .
(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)
"I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed — only Naaman the Syrian."
All the people in the synagogue were filled with rage when they heard this! They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff!" Luke 4:25-29
We learn from these verses — how bitterly human nature dislikes the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. We see this in the conduct of the Jews of Nazareth — when our Lord reminded them that God was under no obligation to work miracles among them.
Were there not many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah? No doubt there were.
Yet to none of them was the prophet sent. All were passed over in favor of a GENTILE widow at Zarephath.
Were there not many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha? No doubt there were.
Yet to none of them was the privilege of healing granted. Naaman the SYRIAN was the only one who was cleansed.
Such doctrine as this was intolerable to the Jews of Nazareth. It wounded their pride and self-conceit. It taught them that God was no man's debtor, and that if they themselves were passed over in the distribution of His mercies — they had no right to find fault. They could not bear His teaching. They were "filled with rage!" They thrust our Lord out of their city — and had it not been for an exercise of miraculous power on His part, they would doubtless have put Him to a violent death by hurling Him off the cliff!
Of all the doctrines of the Bible, none is so offensive to human nature as the doctrine of God's sovereignty. Man can bear to be told that God is great, and just, and holy, and pure. But to be told that "He has mercy on whom He will have mercy" — that He "gives no account of His matters," that it is "not of him who wills, nor of him who runs — but of God who shows mercy" — these are truths which natural man cannot stand. They often call forth all his enmity against God, and fill him with wrath. Nothing, in short, will make him submit to them — but the humbling teaching of the Holy Spirit.
Let us settle it in our minds that, whether we like it or not — the sovereignty of God is a doctrine clearly revealed in the Bible, and a fact clearly to be seen in the world. Upon no other principle can we ever explain why some members of a family are converted — and others live and die in sin; why some quarters of the earth are enlightened by Christianity — and others remain buried in heathenism. One account alone can be given of all this. All is ordered by the sovereign hand of God!
Let us pray for humility in respect of this deep teaching. Let us never doubt that at the last day the whole world shall be convinced, that He who now "gives no account of His matters" has done all things well!