Now we're turning in our Bibles to two readings, one short and one not so short. Job 26 is our first reading from the word of God, Job 26. And as I said earlier in the announcements - and I don't want to overstate it, but I don't feel I can overstate it - please do, tonight, make an effort to bring people along. The gospel will be preached, and you may find that they'll come more readily to this meeting tonight, they'll enjoy the meeting - as most do enjoy Christmas - but they'll also hear the gospel, and that's what's important. So please do make an effort and remember it in your prayers.
"The Power Of God" - Job 26 and verse 14: "Lo, these are parts of his ways" - and we have been learning in recent weeks that that is all we can know. We looked at that especially in 'God Transcendent', that He is above us and the secret things belong unto our God. So, therefore, these are only parts of His ways that we are looking at. "But how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power who can understand?"
And then we turn to Habakkuk - almost at the end of your Old Testament - Habakkuk and chapter 3. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk and then Zephaniah - Habakkuk 3 and beginning to read at verse 2. And we have dealt in detail with these verses in the Bible readings last year* but what I want you to gather from this reading is the power of God. Verse 2: "O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy". Now I want you to try and picture this in your mind: "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? Was thine anger against the rivers? Was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops".
*See “Majoring In The Minors: Habakkuk” study series.
Our verse that we read from Job tells us that God is incomprehensible. In other words, we see a certain amount of God but we cannot see all of Him, and specifically Job is talking about God's power. In a small measure we can see God's power, but we can never know the full extent of His great power. His power is infinitely more lodged in Him than we can ever imagine.
In this chapter, Habakkuk 3 and verse 4 - a great depiction of the power of God - look down at it. At the end of verse 4 you read this: '...there was the hiding place of his power'. Where was the hiding place? This great depiction of God's power as He walks through the land, as He destroys His enemies, as He rides upon the waves, as He thunders from the heavens with His great voice - there was the hiding of His power. Isn't that remarkable? This was not the disclosure of God's power, this is the hiding of it! This is what God does when He hides His power - what must God be like when He discloses it and opens it up to all men and to the whole world?
When Abraham was 99 years of age in Genesis 17 and verse 1 it says: 'The Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect' - I am the Almighty God, El-Shaddai. That is where we get the word 'omnipotent' from, 'almighty'. It is a direct translation, if you like, from the Latin: 'almighty' - 'omnipotent'. 'Omni' means all, 'potent' means power - God is all-powerful.
John heard the voice of a multitude, he said it was as the voice of many waters, many thunderings throughout the universe, declaring the sovereignty and the powerfulness of God and it went like this: 'Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth'. God's sovereignty and his omnipotence must go together: God cannot be omnipotent unless He is sovereign, He can't be all-powerful unless He is in all control - they go together, they cannot exist alone. As one person has said: 'To reign, God must have power, and to reign sovereignly He must have all power'. This is what omnipotence means: 'almighty' - 56 times in our English Bible we find that phrase, 'almighty', and every single time it refers to God, for God alone is almighty. And God being almighty, it means that He possesses something that no one else can possess, no creature can be said to have absolute potency, they cannot be all-powerful for this Almighty God has an inconceivable plentitude of power. He overflows with power, He is all-powerful - and because He is all-powerful it means that He is equal and above every single power that there is in the universe.
If you think about it for a moment, it is inconceivable that He is all-powerful to our minds, but it is also inconceivable that He is not all-powerful. How could you have a God that is not all-powerful? Imagine God, willing to do something, but not having the power to carry it out. It doesn't make sense! That is not God, that is a mere creation of man's mind! But this almighty, all-powerful God, when He wills He can do, and He must be all-powerful to be all-God. Thomas Watson, the puritan, put it like this: 'Take away a King's power and we un-king him. Take away God's power and we un-God him'. His power is equal to His will, what He wills He does - and praise Him, He has the power to do it! He says Himself in Isaiah 46: 'I will do all my pleasure...I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it'.
Power and authority are often confused with one another, because they are not one and the same thing. You see, you can have authority, but that authority can be resisted by men. They can try to usurp it, they can have a coup d'etat in a nation, try to overthrow the throne and the government, they can resist authority. But power is a different thing, because to bring power and authority together means that God Himself, being almighty, has His authority but He has the power to carry it out. As His holiness is His beauty, as we saw in weeks gone by, His holiness is the beauty of His attributes, this power of God is what gives life to all that God is and all that God does. Think about it: what would be the point of God having a great plan in this universe, in all of His wisdom, in all of His love toward us, in all of His faithfulness that we were thinking about last week, but He is impotent to carry it out?
Doesn't work like that, sure it doesn't? It's that chain, it's that pillar again that we were thinking about, that rainbow, that arch that goes over all the pillars of God - and we could say that, just as we learnt last week that the arch of faithfulness goes over all God's attributes, we can also say that the arch of His power goes over them as well. If He hasn't the power to be what He says He is, He is not God! Without power, His mercy would be feeble pity. Without power, His great and precious promises would be all hot air, isn't that right? They would mean nothing! But as Stephen Charnock says: 'His threatenings would be a mere scarecrow - but God's power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible it can neither be checked, restrained nor frustrated by the creature'. Didn't the Psalmist say that in 89:6? 'For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?'. Daniel 4:35: 'And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he' - 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?'.
What a mighty God! Does that not thrill your heart? That that is the God we come to today, that is the God we worship, a God who is almighty, a God who is omnipotent, a God who has all power! Where then can we see this almighty power of God? That's what I want to look at first of all, and then we will look at: what does it mean for us to know this almighty power of God. But let's look at the first point first of all: where can we see the power of God? Now, it is true to a certain extent that God has delegated some power to His creatures. He gave Adam jurisdiction over the earth, He delegated some of His power. But you know, when God did that and when He does it in our lives to give us a measure of will and freedom, He does not relinquish any of His own power. He doesn't demean Himself, or exhaust Himself in any measure of any of His great power. He never gives His power away. As Spurgeon said: 'God's power is like Himself, self-existent, self-sustained. The mightiest of men cannot add so much as a shadow of increased power to the omnipotent One. He sits on no buttressed throne, and leans on no assisting arm' - isn't that right? And what God gives us power to do, it does not relinquish Him of any of His great power, for He is the great source and the originator of all power - and if you would learn that, it would be a medicine to your soul! It would be a medicine that would purge out this old sin-sick world if they would realise, if they would hear from the voice of God, what Job heard: 'Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast understanding!'. You see, the power of God buries the pride of man.
Where can we see it? Where can man see it? Well, first of all you can see it in creation. Sadly our world today sees laws of nature, rather than the power of God - isn't that right? When great catastrophes happen and when things go wrong all around the world, or things go right, it's always the laws of nature or the hand of man in it all - but God's power is ignored! In Job 9 and verse 8 we read this: '[God] treadeth upon the waves of the sea' - do you know what that is? That is God's uncontrollable power - I don't mean that He can't control it, but you can't. You can't control God's power, and this world can't control God's power - just like the waves (and we've been seeing it, haven't we, in the floods in England and here in Northern Ireland), men can't control it, it is above them, it is beyond them. And what Job is saying is God's power cannot be controlled, He treadeth upon the waves of the sea! In Job 22:14 we read this: 'He walketh in the circuit of heaven' - do you know what that is? The universality of His presence, He is everywhere, He walks in the circuit of the heavens, we cannot escape Him, He is beyond us, He is above us - and then in Psalm 104:3 we read: 'He walketh upon the wings of the wind'! He treadeth upon the sea, He walks in the circuit of heaven, and He treads on the wings of the wind.
Isn't it amazing that it doesn't say that He runs or He flies? It says 'He walks', because that great power that He has is in perfect control. It never loosens out of His control, He is in all power, all control. In the swiftness of His actions, He is sovereign, He is almighty - and surely when you look into the sky on a dark night and you see all the beauties of creation in the stars, do you not think to yourselves: 'Where do they come from? How did they get there?'. And to think to ourselves that they came from nothing - God had no material to work with, He created the material out of nothing and then worked upon that material. The great divine Architect had no tools, He worked with His own power and He spoke one word and creation came into being. The old Christian said, and said rightly: 'The world cannot make a fly' - isn't that right? They can't make a fly, but God made this universe in one infallible word! The Psalmist says: 'God has spoken once, twice have I heard this: that power belongeth unto our God'. And that's all He needed for creation, one word and it sprang into being - hallelujah, what a God!
You can see it in creation. Secondly you can see it in preservation - Hebrews 1 and verse 3, not only did He create it, but He upholds all things by the word of His power! Oh, many a man and many a scientist has created a thing and it's got out of control and he ceases now to control it - isn't that right? But not our God, for what He wills He has the power to do, and He has the power to sustain. He is almighty in His preserving power, thirdly: He's almighty in restraining natural corruption. You look around the world today and you think to yourself: 'Things couldn't get any worse' - but can you imagine, for one moment, how worse things would be if it wasn't for God's sovereign hand curbing iniquity, curbing corruption? Iniquity would drown the world; sin would fill our lungs and drown us to hell if it wasn't for God pulling down the floodgates! God does that in His restraining power.
You can see it in redemption, fourthly, and this is the most beautiful. We'll be thinking not too long from today about the Lord Jesus Christ and His birth. And at the virgin birth in Luke 1:35 and 37, we read this: 'And the angel answered and said unto her', Mary, 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God...For with God nothing shall be impossible' - hallelujah! What a God! The world, in sin and nature's night - but this great God has the power to redeem a world of sin, this great God has the power to bring clean out of unclean, to bring perfection out of an imperfect womb of a sinner. This almighty God is able to preserve the Lord Jesus Christ from the attacks of Satan until He gets to the cross. This great God, in all His omnipotence, is able to bring death from the grave into new life. This God is able to set at His own right hand in the majesty on high, a perfect Man! What a God - this is the God in His all-power who will come in His Son, in clouds descending from the heavens, and will take His own redeemed people to be with Himself in glory.
Think about it! What power could unite two natures, the nature of God and the nature of man, and fuse them together in one person? That's almighty power! That is omnipotent power! And what power could put away sins forever by the blood of His cross? Only almighty power, for only almighty power could redeem a world of sinners lost. Only almighty power could incarnate - and that's where you see it also: in the incarnation, and you see it in the life of the Lord Jesus, for He spoke to the leper and what did He say? 'I will, be thou clean' - and immediately the leprosy was cleansed. He spoke to dead Lazarus: 'Come forth!' - and Lazarus came forth. John 11, they're out in the boat, the winds and the waves are tossing them to and fro: 'Carest Thou not that we perish Master?'...'Peace be still'...'What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?' What power! What power!
Sixthly, you see it in conversion. Do you know that there's greater power in conversion than there is in creation? Because in creation there was no one that opposed God, sure there wasn't? There was no sin in the world, but in conversion He had Lucifer to deal with, in conversion He had this world to deal with, and in conversion He had my old black, deep-dyed, depraved heart that opposed Him! But He's an Almighty God, and He was able to overcome my heart by the power - Ephesians says - that raised Christ from the dead and set Him at the right hand of God, that was the power that it took Him to convert me! What power! Sinner, if you're here today and you're not saved, it's going to take a power greater than that made those trees and the birds out there to save your soul. But the magic of it all is that that power is here, that power is in the Gospel and it's available to you if you would only take it! The old puritans got it right you know, they knew that it took more power to convert than it does to create. Listen to what one of them says: 'God has salvation and damnation in His power. He has the key of justice in His hand to lock up whom He will in the fiery prison of hell. He has the key of mercy in His hand to open heaven's gate to whom He pleases'.
The Psalmist said in Psalm 8, of creation, that creation was the work of God's fingers; but in Luke chapter 1 and verse 51, we read that salvation was the work of God's arm. You see, it takes more - it takes God arm to save you! And whereas creation was one miracle, one spoken word, conversion is many miracles every single day that we live and breathe in this world, miracle after miracle - and God is speaking word after word after word to bring a new creation into being. What power of God! Is it no wonder that it was declared of the Lord Jesus Christ: 'He is able to save to the uttermost', for He is almighty! Now you remember that, my unconverted friend, you remember that: that you cannot continue to harden your heart against God forever, because He is more powerful than you even think He is. That's what Ephesians 3:20 [says]: 'He is able to do exceeding abundantly' - He's greater than you think. Julian the Emperor, he found that out - he was wounded in battle and he was wounded fatally. He was an enemy of Christ, the Gospel and His church - and as he lay there dying, the history books tell us that he threw his blood into the air and he shouted: 'Basisti Galae' (sp?) - 'Oh, Galilean, Thou hast overcome!'.
You see, this man Christ Jesus always overcomes, and there's a day He'll overcome you, my friend, if you don't turn to Him. And it's better to meet God with tears in your eyes than with weapons in your hands, for this is great power. This is the power of God, this is the power that shut the lion's mouth, this is the power that made fire not to burn, this is the power that made waters to stand like walls, this is the power that caused the sun to go ten degrees backward on the dial of Ahaz, this is the power that cast the greatest cherub from heaven into hell, this is the power that locked his own angels up in a dungeon for all eternity, this is the power that made Nebuchadnezzar to chew grass like a bullock - for the powers are ordained of God. And my friend, by Him even Kings reign, and Prince Charles would need to remember that, wouldn't he? Our own Royal family and every prime minister and President are where they are because God's power has permitted it.
Seventhly, His power can be seen in judgement. Oh, that you would see His power in judgement - for when God smites, no one resists Him. Ezekiel 22: 'Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it'. You can look at the flood, you can look at Sodom and Gomorrah, and you can look at the Egyptians in the Red Sea - and what if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-sufferings the vessel of wrath fitted to destruction - what if God should destroy you in hell? He has the power to do it.
Secondly: what should we learn from this power of God? The first thing I want us to learn today is that He must be reconciled to. Have you got that? This great, omnipotent, Almighty God must be reconciled to - why? Because God, one day, will display His power by incarcerating men and women in the lake of fire, and He has the power to preserve their body and their soul supernaturally for all eternity! That's what it means: that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! Does that power not make you tremble? It made Habakkuk tremble, it made his belly tremble, it made his bones into rottenness, it made him fall before the face of God - and if you are a rebellious sinner in this place it ought to make you tremble. God is all-powerful in His justice and in His judgement. The Lord Jesus said: 'Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him which is able to destroy body and soul in hell'! He says to you today: 'Fear ye Me not? Saith the Lord, Will ye not tremble at My presence?'. Jeremiah asked the question: 'Who knows the power of His wrath?'. Nahum: 'His fury is poured out like fire, the rocks are thrown down by Him'. And the Psalmist implores you today, as I do, from Psalm 2: 'Kiss the Son, lest He be angry with thee' - it's time for reconciliation, that's what it's time for with God. You need to be reconciled from your sin, you need to turn from it and turn to God - for if you don't that great judgement of power and omnipotence will fall upon your head.
Can I ask you: would you not rather have God for you than against you? I mean, this is crazy, isn't it? To stand and spit in the face of God, and shake your fist in front of Him out of rebellious sinfulness when God could wipe you off the face of the earth in one second! Would you not rather that this all-powerful, omnipotent God was for you than against you? For the power of God, the word says, is against the wicked - and it's not a shield to protect you, but it's a sword to wound the sinner that is unrepentant! You see, some children that grow up in Christian homes, because they've been taught all their life that God is love and that God loves them and God cares for them and that God will protect them, they live on in their sin thinking that - that's nonsense! God is angry with the sinner every day! And unless you have the blood of Jesus Christ over you, you'll be damned my friend. That's the thing you need to learn from the power of God, that He must be reconciled to.
The second thing is this: He requires worship. He requires it. Imagine a gigantic, absolute power - that He is not just some kind of impersonal influence or force, but He is a person, a person whom we can approach as our Father. He's the great I Am, yet you and I in Christ can speak to Him in the most intimate human language that exists. Tozer said that, he said: 'The worshipping man finds this knowledge a source of wonderful strength for his inner life. His faith rises to take a great leap upward into fellowship with God, who can do whatever He wills to do, for whom nothing is to hard or difficult because He possesses power absolute'. Sure, when this God's revealed to you, do you not feel like falling on your face? Do you not feel like it? I'm asking a question: do you feel like it? For we ought to! We ought to fall at His feet as dead and worship Him!
Thirdly, He must be reconciled to, He requires worship, but He must be trusted. He must be trusted. He, God, this Almighty One, can do everything as easily as He can do anything. He does everything without effort, He doesn't expend any energy, He never gets tired, He never needs to be replenished, He never looks outside of Himself for help or energy - and it's to this One that we need to come and trust. 2 Chronicles 16 and verse 12 we read about Asa, and it says there: 'Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians'. He might have known that God had all power, but he didn't trust Him in it. You see, that's what God wants of us, if you're His child that's what He wants. He wants you to come and recognise that He's omnipotent, that He's all-powerful and He wants you to bring your diseased feet - whatever they may be - and trust them not to physicians, but trust them to Him.
A.B. Simpson, Presbyterian Pastor in America years ago, was in his middle-age, he had broken health and was deeply discouraged, disillusioned and despondent. He was ready to quit the ministry, but one day he heard an old Negro spiritual that went like this: 'Nothing is too hard for Jesus, no man can work like Him'. He writes that it went like an arrow into his heart, he said it was like a medicine of faith to the body and to the heart and to the soul and the spirit. And he found that he had to go away from all his concerns, and he went into a place of quiet to spend time with God. And after a few days in the presence of God, he rose completely cured, he went forth in the fullness of joy to found what has become the greatest missionary organisation that foreign societies have ever seen, and for 35 years after that encounter with God he laboured for Christ. What happened to him? His faith in God was seen in the limitless power of God. He got hold of it, he connected with it, he got to grips with it, he plugged into the great omnipotent power of God and it made all the difference to him!
Oh, there's an old lie that goes about, it's a philosophy that says that God's at a distance. 'God's far off, God's transcendent so why would He want anything to do with you? Why would He care about you? He doesn't even care about this planet, never mind your individual life!' - and that goes into the minds of young people and adults, and they feel that God is at a distance, He's too great or concerned to be involved in the affairs of my insignificant life. But when you look at this, this power of God is different for it tells us that there's no prayer too hard for Him to answer! There's no problem too difficult for Him to solve! There's no need too great for Him to supply! There's no passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too great for Him to deliver us from! For the Psalmist says: 'The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life' - His great power can be the strength of your life and my life, of whom shall I be afraid!
The apostle says: 'He is the eternal power' - do you know what that means? You don't need to worry about tomorrow! For His power is eternal and it will be as great tomorrow as it is today and as it was yesterday! You don't need to worry! This power is the source of encouragement to our hearts, is it not? Jeremiah saw it as such when he said: 'Ah Lord God, behold thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing to hard for thee'! Do you believe that? Put your hand up if you believe it, now come on - do you believe it? He says it, He is able to save to the uttermost. He is able to succour them that are tempted, He is able to keep you from falling, He is able to build you up, He is able to stablish you - 2 Corinthians 9:8: '... and God is able to make all grace abound towards you'. And even when we reach the last great enemy, death, He shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. He is able, hallelujah! He is able - I'm not able, you're not able, you are weak, you are sinful, you're tempted, you're discouraged, you're broken hearted, you're mourning - but He is able, He is able! And even what God cannot do - in that He cannot sin, He cannot lie, He cannot deny Himself - even the things that He cannot do are for you! He'll never fail you, He'll never forsake you - but His irresistible, inexhaustible, eternal power is there for your taking.
One saint was ill and a friend asked him: 'What if, after you trusting God for so many years, He would fail you?'. And that old man replied: 'Well, He would lose more than I would. I would only lose my soul, but He would lose His great name'. El-Shaddai, God Almighty, and He is your God. Hallelujah! He is your God.
Let us pray, and bow our heads. And let me just say that if you're not saved, God is able to save you now, right now. He is able, He is all-powerful to save you no matter how far away from Him you are - He can, and will, save you. If you're backslidden, no matter what those barriers are, God can overcome them and God can bring you through. Your problems, your trials, your heartaches, your temptations and the sin that so easily besets you - God is able for it, but you have to let Him do what He will do. Will you hand it over to Him now? Will you? By an act of faith say: 'Lord, I relinquish this and now I let Thine all-power take over'. Why not do it and know the great peace of God?
Father, we thank Thee that we don't come to a midget God, we don't come to an impotent, powerless being who waits on man to serve Him. But we thank Thee that we come to Almighty God, it is written upon Thy thigh: 'King of kings, and Lord of lords', Thou art above all things and we thank Thee for Thy great love in the Lord Jesus Christ. But we say this Lord: it would matter how much You loved us, if You hadn't the power to save us and bring us to Yourself, and we thank Thee that in everything that is Your will toward us You have the power to carry it out. So we pray: Lord, have Thine own way, Thou art the Potter, we are the clay. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifth tape in his 'Behold Your God' series, titled "The Power Of God" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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