Power

There is no power in the universe that does not come from God. Before you nod your head in agreement and say “amen,” know that in some circumstances this can be a tough pill to swallow. It means that even demons and the Devil borrow their power for a season from God. Maybe we should say they steal it from God, but we have to be careful with this. Nobody can really steal anything from God. He is God. From Genesis to Job to Revelation, for sovereign reasons that are His alone, we see clearly that God lets His creatures, good and bad, have limited power for a limited time. We may never understand or appreciate God’s reasons, even in Heaven… because, even in Heaven, we will not be God. There is never a time or a place where we creatures will have full access to the mind of our Creator. We would have to be the Creator for this. And, of course, we will never be anything but His creatures. And besides, even if we had all the answers to our “why-did-this-have-to-happen?” questions, what good would they be? Such answers are overrated. This is why it says “Jesus wept” instead of “Jesus explained” as he stood before Lazarus’ tomb.

For help with this, let’s look at Exodus 7-8 and Pharaoh’s magicians, since these chapters and accounts are near where many of us are in our reading through the Bible in a year. Strangely, these magicians were able to reproduce the first two plagues from Moses/Aaron by their own magical arts. A river they worshipped turned to blood and frogs they worshipped became a menace. The big mistake to make here as a reader is to think that these Magicians had a power they got from somewhere else, that there are sources for power that God does not own, sources that He cannot access or control. The Magicians made this mistake. The Holy Spirit has us reading about them in Scripture so that we will not. And the Magicians did eventually learn the truth… the hard way. (See Exodus 8:19.)

God has no competition. He engages Himself and participates in our conflicts and contests, but, at the same time, He owns every molecule of every venue and created every cell of every contestant. He can pull the plug on everything in a second. (Sometimes I wonder why He doesn’t.) God alone has all this power and He never shares any of it. Again, I know the painful problem with this; it surfaces when God allows evil people to hurt innocent people or when we walk through a time of inexplicable loss. Pastors, especially, have to face this issue regularly. “Why, God?”

But, if in an effort to thwart pain, you subscribe to a “yin and yang” view of God, you’ll be in more trouble than ever. First of all, when bad things happens, where do you turn? Who do you bring your complaint to? The Psalms are not accidents. They are intentionally placed complaints, in many cases, of people concerned with what God has allowed or what He has not taken care of yet. If your God has to compete for power with Satan or Egyptian magicians or terrorists or just bad circumstances, then what kind of God is He? Is He God at all? The essence of the sin of idolatry is believing that authoritative, spiritual truth is a marketplace. It is believing that If God is not providing the robust customer service we’re entitled to, perhaps a new god can do better, maybe especially one we make ourselves (or make of ourselves).

Of course, maybe you have had some personal experience that is so horrible that you comfort yourself with the thought that the God you love and the God that loves you had nothing to do with it. Well, in one very important sense, you are right. He is not the author of or responsible for evil or its byproducts. (See James 1:13, 1 John 1:5, and 1 Corinthians 14:33.) But do not take this to mean that God tried to stop something, but could not, because other forces were, even momentarily, more powerful. You cannot say that anything is beyond His power. Here is the sometimes really painful truth: you cannot say that He did not allow it. Of course, we sometimes do not understand or appreciate this. One beautiful thing about the Scriptures is that they contain God’s way of letting us know that He knows that we have real problems sometimes with what He allows. Why do you think His angels are constantly telling us not to be afraid? But, if we lessen God’s power in our minds to lessen the blow of some event, then we also begin to lose track of God and our own souls. Then it is not God we are thinking of through our tear-filled eyes, but some lesser being of our own imagination: an idol.

The final (quickly approaching) victory of Jesus Christ over all evil and over all the fruit of evil is our constant, growing comfort. Read the Book of Job to learn that the sometimes troubling fact that God allows evil is, in time, more than countered by the fact that He overrules it. Evil does not get to keep its place. It gets put away. And the tears we have shed because of it; they get wiped away too… (See Revelation 21:4.)… by the very hand of the One Who sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to experience and overcome the entirety of evil for us on the Cross. Now that is power.

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