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The Sojourner Blog

The Outer Bands...of God

Posted by Steven Light on

Ominous Clouds

The outer bands of Irma are presently passing over Tampa, intensifying by the hour.  I write from a home in Alabama, to which my family has evacuated.  It was the thought of category 3 or even category 4 winds raging over my home which compelled me to pack up at 2:30 AM on Friday morning, load my wife and two toddlers in the car, and drive for twelve hours.  As friends who stayed behind give me updates on the conditions, there is one core issue that that we all are thinking about:  the immense power of this storm.  The outer bands are just the beginning.

 For all who find themselves awed and perhaps trembling by the raging of this power, let me call you to consider God’s word.  There are in fact other “outer bands” of tremendous importance.  Job is a man known for his intense suffering, but in Job 26, he teaches us this: Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14)  Job is speaking about what is called the omnipotence of God.  Or in other words, he is describing the very edges, fringes, or “outer bands” of the Almighty.  Job says that these outer bands include the following:

  •  The Creation of the world: 7He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. 
  • His providential ruling over all meteorology: 8He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud.  
  • His majestic design of the waters and light: 10He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.
  • His awesome rebuke of evil: 11The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke.
  • His dominance over chaos and evil: 12By his power he stilled the sea; by his understanding he shattered Rahab. `13By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

 Think for a moment about this:  the creation of the cosmos....just the fringe of God’s power;  the unleashing of the cyclonic power of Irma....barely the edge his designs; the casting down of Satan himself and the powers of darkness from heaven....only the tip of the finger of God.  In other words, take the most vast physical, spiritual, and providential happenings of the heavens and earth....and you have just barely touched on the outer bands of the omnipotence of God.   

 You cannot discuss the omnipotence of God (his attribute of being all-powerful) without realizing that he is also incomprehensible.  Verse 14 - But the thunder of his power who can understand?  We can say that He is the Almighty, but what does that mean?  All my years of study and thought cannot give me a full grasp.  All of eternity itself will not be long enough to scale such heights.

 For some reading these words, I wonder if you have ever thought about these things.  Isn’t it odd that so many have not?  After all, Job tells us that the dead think about this continually.  5The dead tremble under the waters and their inhabitants.  6Sheol [the grave] is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering. And yet, we seem so dull to it.

 Further, Moses says this:  Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?  (Psalm 90:11)  Indeed, who does think about this?  Who sets their mind on the power of God, and especially on the power of his wrath and anger? 

 If you have never done so, I plead with you to do so now.  God send storms like Irma so that you would be awakened (Isaiah 26:9).  Do not miss the opportunity.  There is an Almighty God and you do have an eternal soul and you are a sinner and there is a great conflagration to come: the undoing of the created order in fire when God judges all human beings and angels.  His omnipotence will be expressed in the perfect justice of the Judge of all the earth.  And who can stand in that day?  Those who do not consider such things are far more foolish than those who remained on the beaches of South Florida in vain hope of being spared the fury of Irma’s power.  Do not ignore the outer bands.

 For those who are willing to consider the truth of God and humble their own souls in acknowledgment of sin, there is something more awesome and wonderful yet to be said.  It can be seen in the midst of a storm on Sea of Galilee some two thousand years ago, where frightened sailors woke up their sleeping teacher asleep on the boat:

 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"  (Mark 4:39-41)

 Who indeed is this?  It is Jesus Christ, who, as Job said, “By his power he stilled the sea.”  The Almighty God became man.  The infinite and eternal one took upon himself the finite and temporal nature.  He did so because he is not only omnipotent in his judgments, but he is omnipotent in his love.  This is a mystery no mind can grasp.  God became man and died for sinners.  On the cross, Jesus took the wrath of divine justice in the place of all who will trust in him. 

 And here, I think we must say we pass beyond the outer bands into something far more central.  We come to a sort of “eye” in the storm.  By the grace of the Lord Jesus and his gospel, we find that at the center is the joy of those who are at peace with God.  We find the pleasures of knowing the one whose love surpasses all knowledge.  We come into a true relationship with the Incomprehensible God, who comes to us as a Father to a child.  And we can join with confidence in those words of Job,

 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another.  My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

 Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I can say to all who trust in him and repent of their sins:  do not fear Irma.  (Prudence and wisdom, yes, but fear…no).  Fear God.  The fear of God quiets all other fears.  And like Job, do not merely fear him, but let your heart faint for him.  Through Jesus, you have the unspeakable joy of knowing him.  And one day, you like Job will indeed see him face to face.