Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Awesome God

     One of the problems we as humans struggle with that God shows perfection in is the area of balance. Not physical balance, but spiritual balance. We see that too often we either think only of God as a supremely sovereign, righteous Judge and thus fear Him, or only of a meek, forgiving Jesus from a manger and thus lose all fear of Him. The problem? God isn't limited to only one manifestation of His attributes.

     God shows complete perfection in how he is completely balanced in all His ways. For example, He is supremely just and at the same time absolutely merciful. How is it possible that God can be seemingly opposite in several areas yet not contradictory? Very simply, He's God. He wrote the rules! But at the same time, in a way, it makes sense. If God was completely just, would He really draw us to love Him? No, we'd all be dead. If God was completely merciful, would we fear Him for His power? No. So in order to be perfect, God must have the balance of attributes that we humans do not have.

     The point of today's post is to point out the side of God that I usually don't mention when I speak on grace: God's awesome power. I believe the entirety of the Bible is the message of the Gospel, and thus, references to God's awesome power build our perception of the Gospel, just as Romans or Galatians does. Toward the end of the post I'll show how this particular attribute of God once again contributes to the enormity of His grace.

     Job 38 is, to me, one of the most jaw-dropping chapters of the Bible. Elihu has just finished his long speech to Job when God decides to step in. I would encourage you to read the whole three chapter section, but here are some of the most eye opening verses in chapter 38. V. 1-4,7-8,12, 17 states, "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?.. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb... Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?.. Or have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?'"

     That is just a quick overview of the absolutely breath-taking argument that God presents Job. I want to stop for a moment and look at what he actually says there. The first thing God points out is Creation, the power it would have taken to create ex nihilo, out of nothing.

     The next verse makes the claim that when creation occurred, the stars and the angels sang out for joy. Look at the immense power demonstrated here. Even the angels, powerful beings though they are, saw the works of God and shouted. Can we do any less?

      God next sarcastically asks Job where he was when He enclosed the sea. Think about that. I, for one, really am not a big fan of the ocean. I'll go, and I'll have fun, but the ocean's raw expanse and power scares me to a certain degree, and I'm not scared of much! Think about the absolute power it would take to stop water rushing through a gap in a dam, much less the entire waters of the oceans. This is what God did. I can't even imagine that kind of strength.

      Next statement is probably even more jaw-dropping. Have any of us humans ever commanded morning to dawn, or shaped a day for our own plans? God's control doesn't cease at earth; He reigns over the entire universe, and He shapes for His will.

      The final verse I mentioned to me is the most amazing. Even death is no obstacle to God. The gates of death are open to Him, because His power reigns. It reminds me of one of my favorite verses, Ps. 139:8, "If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And your right hand will lay hold of me." God's power is infinite, even over evil. Think about that. Hell, the epitome of evil and darkness, is an open door before God.

      I'm going to shift over to Psalm 97, another awesome chapter, so I'm going to write down v. 2-5, 9. "Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and burns up His adversaries round about. His lightnings lit up the world; The earth saw and trembled. The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth... For you are the Lord Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods."

     Once again we see descriptions of God's power. Fire goes before God to consume His foes, fog surrounds Him to shield His holiness from our eyes, He sends lightning throughout the whole earth, and the earth trembles before Him.

     I think my very favorite place I've ever been is the Colorado Rockies. My family take a trip there every year, and every year I'm amazed at God's creation there. The mountains are just so majestic. But look at what the Psalmist says. These mountains, even the big (for Colorado) 14,000 footers melt like wax before God. Wax! Soft, impressionable wax! 14,000 foot tall rock formations are soft as wax before God.

      But how does this tie into God's grace, 'cause we all know that's my emphasis on this blog? Here's how: the greater the power of the individual wronged, the greater the punishment toward the wrongdoer, right?

     Let me give an example. Let's say there's a bully in the gym, and he just looses it. He just lets loose and belts Billy Bob in the mouth. Now, here's the way this goes. If Billy Bob is 85 pounds, 4'5" and exercises once a leap year, the bully will probably get away scot-free. What if Billy Bob is 6'8" though, weighs 260 pounds, and is a world heavy-weight boxer? Well, our little bully friend is going to have a bad day, won't he?

     Why? Because he wronged someone of immense power. That's why a proper understanding of God's power influences our appreciation of His grace. If God was a weak God who couldn't punish you anyway, would His grace mean much? If 85 pound Billy Bob forgave the bully, would the bully appreciate that much?

     But what if linebacker Billy Bob forgives the bully. Suddenly, forgiveness means a lot more, because Billy Bob has the power to enforce justice or grace, yet he chose to show mercy.

     That's what makes God's grace so amazing. He doesn't forgive us because He doesn't have the power to see justice done; no, he forgives us because of His boundless love despite His power. And that should increase our appreciation for His mercy. God forgave our rebellion, went a step further and covered us with himself, even though He had the power to extract every last penny of retribution. That's why grace is so amazing. That's why we should never be able to get over it!

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