ST ANDREW’S OCCASIONAL PAPERS
- Almighty God
On every working day in courts up and down the land, people will be ask to swear by Almighty God that “The evidence I shall give will be the truth……” or something very similar. Why should they swear by “Almighty God”? Surely because there is nothing greater. Perhaps, also, because it is a very ancient idea.
In Genesis 17:1 the Lord says to Abraham, “I am God Almighty…” Later, Isaac spoke to his son Jacob saying “May God Almighty bless you…” (Genesis 28:3). Then again in Genesis 35:11 God speaks to Jacob, changes hid name to Israel and reminds him that “I am God Almighty…”
This requirement to swear by Almighty God may be desired in civil courts, but, as Jesus taught, it should never be necessary between Christian folk, for in this case a simple “Yes” or “No” should be sufficient (Matthew 5:37).
However the thought of having to swear by Almighty God makes us face up to the significance of this term as applied to God, which we will proceed to do in this paper.
- Is there anything an Almighty God cannot do?
When I was teaching at school I often had to draw a circle on the blackboard (those were the days of blackboard and chalk, not the modern electronic equivalents!). Well more often than not the circle was far from circular and I used to refer to it as a “squircle” (somewhere between a square and a circle!). Now even Almighty God cannot draw a square circle for this is a logical impossibility. However there is something far more important that an Almighty God will not do and that is to break His word. If God has promised to do something that is what He will do. As Joshua records “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one of them was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:45). This remains true today, the most important promise being that God will forgive us all our sins if we believe and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ and seek to serve Him to the best of our ability.
- How do we know that God is Almighty?
Surely the first way in which we know is when we look around us at the universe in which we live. If we believe in God, then, surely we must believe that God made it all. Science can only describe what is there (and impressive that is), science does not make the universe! In fact the opening words of the Bible underline this, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Then again when Moses was being commissioned by God to lead the people out of Egypt, he asked God by what name He was to be known. “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.”’”(Exodus 3:14) Now it may not be easy to understand this “name” but surely it suggests that God is dependent on no one else, but is self-existent (and therefore Almighty). Remember too that Jesus used this same idea in His various “I am” statements as recorded particularly in John’s Gospel.
Thirdly, there can hardly have been a greater display of the almighty power of God than in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was not just a resuscitation of a dead body but the transformation of One who had lived in this world, to One who was able to live in the world to come, the world to which all Christian folk are on their way thanks to the work of Jesus on the cross and the power of an Almighty Father.
- How can we live with an Almighty God?
The Israelites, on their journey out of slavery in Egypt, had reached Mount Sinai, where they were to be given the ten commandments. They camped at the base of the mountain. Then fear fell upon them. “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.” (Exodus 19:18,19a) They were afraid because they realised that they were in the presence of an Almighty God. In fact, they went as far as to say to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19).
If we fully appreciated the power and the holiness of Almighty God we might well feel the same as those ancient people, and it is all down to one thing, we are a sinful people, just as they were, and an Almighty God could very well show His power by refusing to have anything to do with sinners. In fact He could well punish us for our sins and we would have no defence of our own. However, He is not like that, Almighty though He is, as we shall see in the next section.
- Why does Almighty God bother with us?
Have you ever considered what God must feel when He looks down on this planet, torn apart by strife in one form or another, by human beings who were supposed to care for it? His heart must ache at the damage done to His creation which, when it started was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). And this strife is due to one thing, the sin (or rebellion against God) of the human race. So why does not God do something about us? He tried wiping out nearly all human beings by a massive flood (Genesis 6:13) but this was not very successful because those saved through Noah were eventually no better than their predecessors. Anyway God promised that He would never try this again (Genesis 9:15b). Certainly God did suggest to Moses that He should wipe out those Israelites that had worshipped the Golden Calf and make a fresh start with Moses himself, (Exodus 32:10). However Moses persuaded God that this would not be a good idea!
So, in effect, God is stuck with us! Therefore He had to adopt a radical new approach, to take the sins of all those men and women who would let Him, into the Godhead, through Jesus Christ, and destroy those sins. Why did God decide that this was the right thing to do? There is a simple answer to that question, it is because God has a heart of love, which, even though it has been grieved still wants the very best for each and every believer.
- Jesus is Almighty too!
When we use the phrase “Almighty God” what we so often think of is “Almighty Father,” but we must recognise that Jesus, being equally God with His Father, is also equally Almighty. When Jesus decided that He and the disciples should cross the Sea of Galilee by boat, He fell asleep while the disciples, many of them experienced sailors, sailed the boat. A violent storm, apparently not uncommon on those waters, descended on the vessel to the point where even those experienced disciples could not cope and they were forced to wake Jesus and plead for His help. So “He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided and all was calm” (Luke 8:24b). The response of the amazed disciples was to ask, ”Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water and they obey Him” (Luke 8:25b).
ign: justify;”> So we get a snapshot of the Almighty Jesus who has power over nature.
Paul adds to this when he includes in his letter to the Christians at Philippi what was probably an ancient hymn in praise of Jesus Christ. In it Paul looks forward to the time when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). Indeed every knee will bow – to an Almighty Jesus.
When will this happen? Surely when Jesus returns to this earth, an event, yet to be, which is referred to time and time again in the Bible. For example we read, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man [Jesus’ favourite title for Himself] will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). This surely describes an Almighty Jesus.
Likewise God the Holy Spirit is Almighty (Acts 16:6;20:22).
- Prepare to meet an Almighty Father, an Almighty Jesus and an Almighty Holy Spirit
St. Paul says that “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). So one day each one of us will meet God. What will you say to Him? In all honesty not one of us can pretend that we have lived a perfect life, which is the standard required. So what we must do is to entrust ourselves to the mercy and love of the Almighty. There should be a little evidence that we have tried to love God and our fellow human beings from the life that we have lived, but the main test will be whether we have believed and trusted in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Jesus was dying on the cross on our behalf, He was not alone, two criminals were also crucified at the same time, one on each side of Jesus. One of these men “hurled insults at Him” whereas the other pleaded for mercy, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Now probably there would have been little good in the life of that criminal but there were the glimmerings of faith and so Jesus could say to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-43). So that man was saved through the mercy and love of God, but only the one, we do not know what happened to the other who had no faith.
When we do meet the Almighty our only hope is to cast ourselves at the feet of the One in whom we have had faith in this life knowing that His promise is to take us with Him into the wonder of His heaven.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. © 1973,1978,1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder and Stoughton, a member of the Hodder Headline Group. All rights reserved.