Saturday, March 20, 2010

His omnipotence

You would be amazed at some of they silly arguments I've read about over the past couple of weeks regarding "omnipotence" or "infinite power".  One of them posits the following question:  "Can God create a rock He can't lift?"  What?  Are you kidding me?  The question gets asked as if logic has nothing to do with anything; that God could be an irrational being somehow.  I remember sitting at my grandfather's table in Matthews, NC a long time ago.  Pop (my grandfather) was telling a joke about a group of ladies taking a bus tour in Alaska.  He got to the punch line and I thought, "I bet I can tell a joke too."  I proceeded to make up some joke with a horrific, unintelligible punch line (I of course got pity laughs from my parents as they are very loving), but in my mind it was one of the funniest statements I'd ever heard.  I get the feeling that whoever came up with the "rock too heavy to lift" must feel the same way while anyone with even a modicum of logic is sitting there scratching their head saying, "Huh?"

And so, with that said, rather than enter into a philosophical argument about omnipotence I'd like to get to His word and see what He has to say about it.  I took another trip through Strong's Concordance to give me a brief outline and came up with the omnipotence of God expressed by His names, creative word, control of nature, nations and all things, His power and "unweariness."

In Genesis 17:1 the Lord says, "I am the God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.  I will confirm My covenant between Me and you and will greatly increase your numbers," to Abram.  The title "God Almighty" is the translation of the Hebrew name of God, El Shaddai.  This masculine noun comes from the root "shadad", a verb meaning to be strong or powerful, to be burly.  This title is used of Him 57 times in both the Old and New Testaments.  A question my wife asked when we read this verse was, "I wonder why God used that particular title when speaking with Abram in this particular situation?"  Just a few verses before God is named El Roi (God who sees me) by Hagar, yet God chooses El Shaddai for Abram.  I would offer that God was getting ready to confirm with Abram that his wife Sarai would still have a child.  Abram's response was to chuckle and say something to the effect of, "That's a good one."  The Lord subsequently changes Abram's name to Abraham (from "exalted father" to "father of many") and appears to Abraham one chapter later to confirm His promise.  In Genesis 18 Sarah gets the chance to laugh about the promise to while His response is, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?'  Is anything too hard for the Lord?  I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." - Gen 18:13, 14.  My point?  Even His name speaks of His immeasurable power.

His power is displayed by His creative word.  Genesis 1:3 reads, "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."  Get this, He hadn't created the stars yet; that's not until verse 14.  What was the source of the light?  I wasn't there, so I don't know.  That said, I wonder if it was the same light that we will experience after the new heavens and new earth arrive and "there will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign forever." - Revelation 22:5.  Pure speculation on my part, but I bet you that's how it will be.

Having created the world, the universe in fact, it should come as no surprise that He has control over nature.  Amos 4:13 reads, "He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, He who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth - the Lord God Almighty is His name."  Often times I look around me and don't have much problem saying, "Lord, this is beautiful" however I don't spend much time quantifying His shear power.  Hurricanes can be considered as God's version of air conditioning.  Warm, humid air is the fuel for the engine to the tune of 6e14 watts PER DAY!  To put this in perspective that is approximately 200 times the total electrical generation capacity of the ENTIRE WORLD.  That's one hurricane for one day.  He doesn't merely have more power than the hurricane, He created not only it but the entire universe; power untold.

Another example:  our sun is only one of about 100 billion in our galaxy.  Estimates of the number of galaxies in the universe have included the number 170 billion.  So just how many stars did He create?  Huge assumptions here, I know, but 100B x 170B = 17 sextillion or 17e21.  That's a lot of zeros folks.  To give us a feeling for how many that is consider the following:  if you took a regular sheet of paper and stacked it on top of another, and another, and so on creating a tower of paper, you could reach our sun and back 4.6 MILLION times!!  Insane numbers that boggle the mind, but that which should give me a good feeling for just how rich and deep are the depths of the God I serve.

Examples and discussion of His power could, I think, go on forever.  As much as I enjoy the quantitative part to it the discussion, and the philosophical discussion as well, I want to point out the difference between His use of power and how we use our power.
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Great men are almost always bad men." - Lord Acton (1834-1902)
 The operative word in the above quotation is "men."  As we will see He uses His power to execute His will to the point where He takes responsibility for our part as well.

Father, thank You for Your time and Your Spirit.  I again ask that if I've in any way misrepresented You or Your word that You'll forgive me.  Please continue to speak and display Your power in our lives.  I love You, Father.  In Jesus' name, amen.

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