Reader’s Digest Condensed Books once filled a shelf in my library. I’ve not read them in a long while, but thought today how the Bible is a bit like a condensed book. It tells of the mighty works of God, leaving out all non-essentials.
What this “edited” version does is give the impression that God did a lot back then, but isn’t doing much right now. If I start to think that way, I have to remember the silent years, about 400 of them, between the Old and New Testament, and the many verses that say certain kings ruled x number of years, and there is nothing told about those years. Even in the life of Christ, it tells of only one incident out of the first thirty years of His history on earth.
For some reason, today’s devotional verses remind me of these things. They are about the power of God…
Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:8–9)
Apart from the time factor, the work of God is seldom globally visible or spectacular. Throughout biblical history, there were relatively few and short time spans of miracles such as those in the days of Elijah or Jesus. God overcame enemy forces, but in several thousand years, those accounts are relatively short also. This is important to my faith, lest I start thinking that God is not doing anything anymore.
For instance, after the resurrection of Christ and His ascension into heaven, God created the church. It has lasted in spite of enemies and persecution, and is still growing. This demonstrates God’s power because every person that becomes a Christian was once involved in some sort of God-defying sin. Besides that inner obstacle, the leaders of the world have always resisted Christianity for fear their empires would be in danger or impaired. Satan resists it too, trying to stop the growth of the Christ and the effectiveness of its people.
God’s power shows in the way God began His church also. The first disciples were illiterate fishermen, a publican, and a tentmaker. They had no authority to force people to obedience and were without eloquence to persuade others with their doctrines. Yet Christian teaching prevailed and the gospel spread rapidly through all the then-known world. This was possible only because God was speaking too, and whatever He commands stands firm.
By God’s power, the church has been preserved, defended and supported. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Great and flourishing earthly kingdoms rise and fall. The strongest of them wind up broken in pieces, yet the church has been preserved. God displays His power in against the rage and malice of all attackers.
Most of all, God’s power is shown in the conversion of sinners. He overcomes the lusts and stubbornness of the human heart, demolishes the strongholds of sin and makes the most obstinate and rebellious people yield to Christ. This is a greater power than anything man can do, for no man can do this. It is greater than creation, for when God made the world, He met with no opposition, but the opposition of a sinner and the Devil resist Him with everything they can.
Another example is the story of Jonah. Some say it must be fiction because of those three days in the belly of a fish. To me, a greater wonder is that the entire wicked city of Nineveh repented from sin and were saved because of the “turn or burn” preaching of this reluctant prophet!
Indeed, conversion shows God’s power. He makes a blind sinner see, causes deaf ears to hear His voice, and raises the dead in sin to eternal life. Each disciple of Christ is a mighty work of God, and this work is still happens in great numbers daily. Because of the power of God, the changed life of sinners is also a work that stands firm for all eternity.