He has the power …
The Christian experience is to be an experience of power. God’s desire is that our lives would not be boring or dull, and that walking with him would be a place where we encounter regular demonstrations and experiences of his power. This seems to be Paul’s prayer for us found in Eph 1. Look at these words.. Ephesians 1:18–23 (NIV) 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know …19and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
Paul wants us to know God’s power. I want to take a few weeks and take a deeper look at what Paul means by this. Certainly I want to encounter all that God has for me. Don’t You? What does he have in mind? Now, Paul writes these words as a man who grew up nurtured on what we now call the Old Testament. What does the OT tell us about God’s power? Let’s go to the songs of the Old Testament, the Psalms.
The OT uses a variety of words to describe God’s power. They are translated with such English words as as power, might, and strength. They are used repeatedly to describe God.
The power or strength of God is a key characteristic of his majesty. Look at these words…Psalm 93:1–2 (NIV) The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.
Notice the odd phrase “armed with strength”. God is robed in majesty and “armed with strength”. The question naturally arises, “Who armed God with strength?” Perhaps this is just a figure of speech as “the holy arm” is used as a symbol for his strength (Psalm 98:1). But even figures of speech as used to convey depth of meaning. Why does the Psalmist tell us he was “armed with strength?”
Translators wrestle with this phrase, providing an answer to this question. The ESV says, Psalm 93:1 (ESV) “the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.” The NASB writes..”The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength;” These translators would tell us that God armed himself with strength or power. That seems odd. When did he do this? What does it mean, as it would seem that God is either strong and powerful or he is not? Why does he need to “arm himself?”
Perhaps the key lies in the fact that strength is a relative term. One is powerful with respect to another. In this case, to whom or what is his power being compared? Look back at Psalm 93.
The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.
It seems that God “armed himself with strength” in the act of creation, when the world was “established.” Another Psalm uses a different word for power, but communicates the same concept, that God “armed himself” in the act of creation, when he formed the mountains, Psalm 65:6 (NIV) who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,
To say it differently, when he created the world he did not “give up” his strength and power. Instead you might say he “powered up” or “ramped up” his power. When the creative act began, and other beings, human and “angelic” began to exist; when matter was created, when alternative thrones and dominions came to be, God established his throne, and “put on” his power. Thus we can proclaim that “he reigns”. As the Psalmist tells us, His power, his throne, his kingdom was established “long ago”.
How can he do this? Look at the final phrase of verse 2, speaking of the creator the psalmist says “you are from all eternity.” He can “arm himself with strength” when he created the world, because he existed before the world. His power is rooted in his eternality. To take it one step further, his eternality is rooted in his “self existence”… or the fact that God does not need anything or anyone else to exist.
Creation in all of its various forms, with human and spiritual powers, does not “out-power” the creator. He remained and remains still, as the one with the power over the universe. In other words, the world is not “out of control”, instead the created world will fulfill the purpose for which it was created. It is “held secure”, as and until that is fully realized.
As much as “things seem out of control”, as wars rage, human kingdoms come and go, environmental disaster seems to lurk, and disease ravages, the created world is held by the one whose power created it. God will accomplish his purposes. He will bring about a new heaven and earth. Jesus Christ will fully redeem those who look to him. He will abundantly reward those who follow him. In our days of uncertainly we have a chance to participate in the kingdom that the one who reigns is building. What a privilege!!
Thank you for doing this!
You are welcome!!
The EHBC Wednesday Men’s group is studying Ephesians and this passage garnered much attention. Thanks for your insight. I always benefit greatly.