Great displays of power mesmerize us. Whether the destructive force of a tornado as it splinters everything in its path or the obliterating power of the atomic bomb as it disintegrates everything at ground zero, power impresses us. But all power has its limits, quite severe limits, actually. A tornado touches down and wears itself out, generally, in a few minutes. And as horrendous as it is, an atomic bomb destroys everything only within a small radius of where it strikes. By contrast, only the power of God is limitless. With respect to His power (moral considerations aside), God can do anything. Period. Moses recognized this truth. And from the same song with which we began this series (“Glorious in Holiness,” Ex. 14:11), we find Moses and the children of Israel praising God for His glorious power: “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy” (Pharaoh and the Egyptian army; Ex. 15:6). And unlike so many displays of power, God’s exercise of power is always glorious.
1. Glorious because infinite. If the possession and exercise of power occasions marvel generally, God’s power evokes absolute glory always. There is an entire series of verses that mentions the “breath of God” and extolls the infinite power that God has demonstrated just by speaking (e.g., II Sam. 22:16; Job 4:9; 33:4; 37:10; Psa. 18:15; Isa. 11:4; 30:28; 30:33). One observes that “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psa. 33:6). Such is the nature of His power that God need only speak and an entire universe comes into existence, a kingdom falls, an army is drowned. Things that would seem to demand immeasurable expenditures of power are performed by God without any net loss of energy. In the natural realm, any exercise of power (even a small one) results in a net loss of energy to the person or machine generating it. To generate atomic power, a nuclear power plant captures energy from uranium rods that eventually wear out. To generate locomotive power, a car consumes gasoline and eventually the tank runs dry and the engine wears out. God alone is infinite in power: He has all the power and energy that exist. And He never expends it in the sense that He experiences a net loss. All are His in infinite, unending supply.
2. Glorious because righteous. God’s power is glorious not alone because it is limitless in magnitude; it is glorious because it is righteous in character. Solomon acknowledged: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him” (Eccl. 3:14). Every human endeavor fails to meet the criterion of perfect righteousness. Whether judicial rulings, legislative acts, artistic creations, or practical constructions, all could be improved by additions, deletions, or both. Not so with God. Whenever, wherever, and however God exercises His power, it is always right. Never once has He failed in thought, word, or deed, and He never will. We often have reason to fear what a government, a criminal, or just a careless person might do to us. Even with the best of intentions doctors, parents, and earnest believers fail to do what is right. Not so with God. His power is glorious because He exercises it in perfect righteousness.
3. Glorious because gracious. A wag has observed that “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Such is the case in the human realm. And when we consider the power God possesses, we have cause to rejoice that He transcends any corruption. But the glory of God’s power does not rest solely in the fact that He acts righteously, for as rebellious sinners, we would be left with nothing but fear of His fitting justice. No, God also condescends to pour out grace, undeserved favor, on us. By His power, He favors us with unmerited salvation; delivers us from the sin that we once loved, though enslaved by it; enables us to serve Him in love, and showers us with temporal and eternal gifts. A benevolent king was once the source of great happiness. A benevolent God is the source of eternal life and “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” To think that God would use His power to deliver us from sin, death, and eternal hell is glorious beyond expression. That He would make us sons and joint heirs with Christ beggars the imagination. May we praise His glorious name.
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