By Irvin Himmel
In the natural realm there are many remarkable demonstrations of power. A hurricane moves in from the sea and carries tons upon tons of water and packs winds of such force that a wide path of destruction and flooding results. A tornado sweeps down from the sky and turns strong buildings into twisted masses of rubble. Think of the power of an earthquake that shakes structures of concrete and steel, that rattles windows hundreds of miles away, and may send thousands to their deaths in a matter of minutes!
We live in an age of power. Nuclear devices have been produced that are capable of blasts many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. We have powerful rockets to take astronauts to and from the world of space. People who lived a few generations ago would be awed by our powerful engines, plants for generating electrical power, and all our tools and gadgets that are power operated.
But there is no power in all the realm of nature’s forces, nor in the inventions of human ingenuity, that can compare with the power of God.
Demonstrated In His Works
No greater power is conceivable than the creation of all things out of nothing. Read the first chapter of Genesis and be impressed with the power of God. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb. 11:3).
The crowning act of creation was the formation of man. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27).
Job reflected on the power of God in these words: “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it. He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end . . . He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth the proud. By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job. 26:7-14).
God is to be praised for His great power. “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psa. 147:4, 5). “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psa. 33:6-9).
God’s power is exhibited in His providential care for His people. No force was strong enough to prevent the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. It might have seemed a time that He had forgotten the descendants of Abraham, for they were slaves in a foreign land, but when the time drew near for Israel to become a nation and to receive the law, God remembered His covenant with Abraham. He brought Israel out of Egypt “through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm” (Deut. 5:15). God reminded the people at Mt. Sinai, “I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Ex. 19:4).
“The works of the Lord are great . . . He hath showed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen” (Psa. 111:2-6). “Come and see the works of God . . . He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot . . . He ruleth by his power for ever . . .” (Psa. 66:5-7).
Emphasized In Names And Titles
Some of the names and titles applied to God in the Bible underscore His strength and might. I now give a few examples.
El is a basic name for God in the Old Testament. It is “One of the oldest designations for deity in the ancient world,” and “seems to suggest power and authority.” It “bears not only the connotation of might, but also the idea of transcendence of the Deity” (H.B. Kuhn, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, II: 761).
El Shaddai is a compound name (“the Almighty God”). It seems to denote “strength, stability, and permanence” (Kuhn). Abraham needed to realize that God could perform what He had promised, even if to men it seemed impossible. for this reason, God said to the ninety-nine year old patriarch, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Gen. 17:1).
Elohim is another name for God in the Old Testament. “Though the entymology is obscure, the word may have come from a root meaning strong. “Plural in form, Elohim indicates “a plentitude of power” (Godron H. Clark, Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, p. 239).
Tsur, meaning “Rock,” is applied to God in Isaiah 44:8. Like a strong rock, God is able to provide security for His people. This name for God points to His eternal strength.
Openly Declared In Scripture
The Bible teaches that God is powerful, but more than that, it depicts Him as all-powerful. If there is any limitation of power, it is a restriction which God has willed through His own free choice. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa. 135:6).
Job humbly acknowledged before God, “I know that thou canst do every thing. . .” (Job 42:2).
Sarah laughed when God said she would bear a son in her old age. God asked Abraham, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14).
After Nebuchadnezzar had recovered from a period of insanity, he praised “the most High,” “the King of heaven,” admitting that God “doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35).
On the island of Patmos, John “heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God.” “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:1,6).
God is infinite in power and might. He is never hindered by lack of strength and ability. “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea” (Psa. 93:4). He is “strong in power” (Isa. 40:25). The finite mind is too limited to fathom the depth of God’s endless power.
Exhibited in the Gospel
There was a working of “mighty power” wrought in Christ when God raised Him from the dead (Eph. 1:19,20). God works mightily in us when we are “quickened” and raised up together with Christ (Eph. 2:5,6). The spiritual power to change our lives is channeled by means of the gospel. Paul referred to the gospel as “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
To preach the gospel is to preach Christ. To some the preaching of the cross is foolishness, “But unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
The transforming power of the gospel should never be underestimated. It can save the vilest sinner. All who use human schemes and gimmicks to “make converts” are substituting human power for the power of God to save the lost.
Let us not be like the Sadducees who knew neither the Scriptures, “nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). Let us be careful that our faith does not stand in the wisdom of men, “But in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 2, pp. 40, 53
January 17, 1985