The Power of God.
Exodus 15-16, Mark 5
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. – Exodus 15:5 ESV
I know of no one who believes in God who would not also say that they believe in the power of God. We sing songs about God’s power. We can recall stories from the Bible, like those in Exodus, that tell of His great power. But there are far too few of us who can speak of His power from personal experience. Either because we have not seen it, or because we have simply taken it for granted. The power of God is not to be some academic or theological concept, but a practical and personal reality in the life of every believer. We have read over and over again in the book of Exodus that simple phrase, “that you may know.” God wants us to know that He is God. He wants us to know of His power from personal, first-hand experience. Witnessing God’s power at work in their lives was what helped the people of Israel believe. His evident power was proof of His ever-presence.
What does this passage reveal about God?
For the people of Israel, God’s power was almost always on display in their lives. They had seen Him do incredible miracles in the land of Egypt. They had watched Him defeat the armies of Pharaoh and part the waters of the Red Sea. They even composed a song about it, singing, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them” (Exodus 15:11-12 ESV). They had seen these things with their own eyes. They had personally experienced the presence and power of God. His deliverance had been up-close and personal in nature. And God would continue to reveal His power to them long after the events at the Red Sea were just a memory. As they made their way to the Promised Land, God would reveal His power repeatedly and in a variety of practical ways. At Marah, He turned bitter water into sweet water. When they arrived at in wilderness of Sin and began to complain about the lack of food, God provided them with quail and manna to eat. Moses told the people, “in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord” (Exodus 16:7 ESV). While normally this would have referred to God’s presence as revealed in the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day, in this case I think Moses was telling the people that they were going to see God’s glory in the form of God’s powerful provision. The manna was going to be a manifestation of God’s glory. His provision would be evidence of His power and proof of his glory and greatness.
Over in the book of Mark, we read about the power of God as revealed through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He casts the demons out of a man, with just a word from His mouth. A woman who had suffered from the same physical malady for 12 long years, receives healing simply by touching the hem of His robe. And Jesus shows His power over even death by raising a 12-year old girl from the dead. These events were meant to provide the disciples with proof of His divinity. They were designed to give the disciples confidence in who Jesus was and evidence of His having God-ordained role as their Messiah. As it had been with the people of Israel in the wilderness, the power revealed in the miracles of Jesus had an objective: “Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 16:12 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
God tends to reveal His power in the midst of man’s problems. The Israelites had an uncrossable sea behind them and an unbeatable foe in front of them. But God showed up and revealed His power on behalf of them. The waters at Marah were bitter and undrinkable, but God showed up and turned the bitter sweet. When the food began to run out and the people began to give up, God showed up in the form of bread in the morning and meat in the evening. And the typical response of the people after each of these manifestations of God’s power was not awe and wonder, but grumbling and complaint. Rather than gratitude and a growing sense of faith in the power of God, they disobeyed His commands and found plenty of reasons to gripe about the next inconvenience they encountered. The manna should have been a daily reminder of God’s power and presence. It should have been more than enough proof of the goodness and glory of God. But rather than experience God’s power and trust Him, they tended to focus on their problems and doubt.
When Jesus healed the demon-possessed man and restored him to his right mind, the people reacted with fear rather than faith. The kind of power Jesus revealed scared them to death and they asked Him to leave. Yet the woman who suffered from the long-standing illness was willing to place her faith in Jesus’ power to heal based only on rumors and second-hand stories. Jesus said her faith restored her to health. Her belief in His power made her well. When word came to Jesus that the little girl had died, He told her father, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36 ESV). This man had not seen Jesus raise anyone from the dead. He had no reason to believe that his little girl’s life could be restored. In the midst of his greatest moment of tragedy, God was going to reveal His power through His Son. His problem was going to provide an opportunity to see God’s power on display.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
God wants to reveal His power through my problems. He wants me to know that He is Lord – not just intellectually, but experientially. God wants to reveal His power in my daily life by meeting practical needs and solving real problems. God graciously reveals His power in practical ways so that we might believe in Him. He offers us daily proof of His presence, but we either ignore it or refuse to believe it. And far too often, even after we see God’s hand at work in our life, we end up grumbling and grousing at the next setback or difficulty that shows up. Rather than sing of His greatness and goodness as revealed in the practical proof of His power, we whine and moan about our lot in life. May I learn to recognize God’s power in my life more readily and sing His praises more fervently. “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11 ESV).
Father, You have shown Your power in my life in so many ways over the years, but I still tend to doubt You far more often than I trust You. And I show that doubt in the form of ingratitude and grumbling. Forgive me and help me see Your power more readily and express my gratitude more quickly. You are great and You are good. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men