Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Almighty One

What does this name mean? When we are asked who we serve, or what God is, a common answer is the God is "The Almighty One", but what do we really mean by this? The phrase is said so often that the words lose their meaning if we don't stop, and think about what we are saying. We serve The Almighty One. Not an almighty one, but The Almighty One. We serve The Almighty One. Not Several gods, each serving a different mood or purpose, but one God. We serve The Almighty.

Almighty. All Powerful. Creator. Ruler. King. LORD. These are some of the titles we use when we address God, but they are more than titles, they are also adjectives; they describe God, they paint a picture for us of who it is that we kneel before in prayer. An almighty, all powerful God reigns over His creation, ruling every aspect from the greatest to the least. When the sun rises, God makes it so[1]. When the sun sets, God makes it so. When the sun stood still for an entire day while Joshua and the Israelites fought in battle, God made it so[2]. When a humble plant grows, God makes it so[3]. When a child is conceived, and grows, God makes it so[4]. Simply reading the creation story[5] should leave us in awe of our Heavenly Father, but if that is not enough, we also have Job 38 and onward, where God is questioning Job, and revealing His power by doing so. Who else could lay the foundations of the world, separate the seas from the land, command light and dark, hold and control constellations, and govern the beasts of the earth?[6] Ps 104 paints a beautiful picture of how God provides for His creation, from laying the foundations of the world, to causing rivers to run and give water, grass and plants to grow for food, seasonal changes, days for work and nights for rest, and the list concludes by stating that God is still in control of everything[7] and has not left the world to govern itself.

And so we have seen God's providence, His care. We have seen that all good things come from His hand. But what about when things turn pear shaped? When the twin towers fell on September 11; when the tsunami washed over Bali; when the Nazis had concentration camps? Where does this come from? Or, looking closer to home, when your life is brought to a shuddering halt by the death of a loved one; When you, or someone you love, is diagnosed with cancer; When a marriage falls apart; when a friend leaves the Church; when the best laid business plans don't work out, where does this come from? If this doesn't come from God, as there is no evil in Him[8], then where does it come from?

We know that God hates sin, that He loathes evil, so why then, do bad things happen? Why does it seem, at times, that God doesn't hear our prayers, much less answer them? How often do we feel like the Sons of Korah, crying out to God, asking why He hides his face from us[9]?

If God loathes evil, and has power over all things, then why do bad things continue to happen? Is this, too, from His hand? Or has He lost control?

We enter in dangerous territory if we start to say that God is responsible for any of the misfortune and disasters which happen in our lives, as this would mean that God is not perfect. We also run into trouble if we say that God has no control over evil, as this would mean that sin and evil are a superior force, and also that the cross has no value or worth. So then what? How can God be in complete control of everything, and yet not be behind the evil that takes place?

Well, we know that nothing happens by chance, and that God's plan will eventuate. We know that God appoints prosperity and adversity[10] and that it was right of Job to say that The Lord had taken away his possessions and even his sons and daughters[11]. This, however, is pointing to God's eternal plan, rather than His command. God's eternal plan, partially revealed to us throughout scripture, and moreso in the Book of Revelation[12], includes, encompasses and deals with man's disobedience, and the redemptive work of Christ on the cross, while His command was "you shall not eat of this tree". When God commanded pharaoh to release the Israelites, His plan also included pharaoh's defiance[13]. In this way, when we pray, "Your will be done"[14] we are not only praying that God's commands are followed - that people stop murdering, stop slandering, stop adulterating, stop worshipping false gods - or that His will be done on a specific point (such as healing), we are also praying that God's eternal plan come to fruition.

Does God care, then? If He cared, wouldn't He stop these things from happening? Earlier, we had a list of His titles, but some were not there. We also know that God is Father to the fatherless and a Defender of widows[15], as well as addressing Him as, "our Father in Heaven"[16]. It is clear then, that God does care. Would we be told to call on Him as our Father if He didn't hold any of the qualities we relate to our earthly fathers?[17] It is this care that means that God will turn any evil to the benefit of His children.[18] While the benefit may not be in this life, we will (and do) benefit from the bad things that happen to us.

The entire story of mankind is testament to this, culminating in the saving work of Christ, so we know, just as Jesus told His disciples, that even though trouble is coming, is here, or has been, we have, in Christ - Almighty God made human - a Saviour, a Rock, who has overcome evil.[19] A Saviour who was human, who bore the same ailments as us, who faced the same (and worse) temptations as us, and who identifies with us.

So, where is God when things go wrong? Is He absent, unaware of what is happening? Is He by your side, facing the evil with you? No, He is reigning over all things, guiding you through troubled waters, leading you to an outcome that is both best for you, and brings Him glory. He is working your troubles to be a benefit, to bring you closer to Himself.


1 Job 38:12
2 Joshua 10
3 Matthew 6:28-30
4 Ps 139:13-16
5 Genesis 1
6 Job 38-41
7 Ps 104:27-32
8 1 John 1:5
9 Ps 88
10 Ecclesiastes 7:14
11 Job 1:21
12 Revelation 4 through to the end
13 Ex 7-12
14 Matt 6:10
15 Ps 68:5
16 Matt 6:9
17 Matt 7:7-10
18 Rom 8:28
19 John 16:33

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