Genesis 32: The Divine Power
These days everyone wants special powers. Children have wands that mimic the powers of the magicians. Adults are fascinated by stories that speak of magic. Movies are coming out every day that enchants us to have the power we want through some incantations and use of formulas. Power is attractive and hard to let go of. People who have experienced the power, it is like an addiction that they can’t easily let go of. Power corrupts.
In Biblical terms, power is very different. According to various stories we read in the Bible, we find power comes from our courage to strive with God. You have to struggle with God. Power comes not easily but because you are willing to put yourself to test, and even God. You may have to struggle with all that you are. That includes the understanding of God and the very foundation of your trust.
You can be assured that you can come out of such doubt of who you are and where God is in flying colors because the one who empowers you to see yourself is God. Ultimate power is the power that comes from this self-awareness empowered by God.
Elijah and Elisha crossed the river. That was the last journey for the senior prophet, but Elisha did not know that. Elijah rolled up his mantle and struck the water. Then the water parts just like it happened to Moses leading the people out of Egypt. They both cross through the dry land to the other side. The story then goes on to say Prophet Elijah was lifted up in heaven, he leaves the mantle to Elisha and so forth.
Prophet Elijah left behind the mantle, which he rolled up to part the water. Elijah left behind a possession that gave him all the power to part the water, and the change course of history behind. The mantle that rolled off of the shoulder of Elijah was purely a symbol of awareness that it is useless in the life then forward. In itself, it did not contain any power. It only solidified Elijah’s faith in God that became the power.
It is the faith in God that strengthens the power in us. By you, O God, I can crush the troop and jump over the fence, says the Psalmist. (Psalm 18:29) Everything that stops us from achieving our greatness can be crushed if we are strong in God. Everything that stops us from reaching our potential can be hopped over when God is our partner. Because the one who strengthens us no one other than God alone.
I sometimes watch movies that have war scenes from the olden days. Movies and shows like The King, Game of Thrones, have scenes where the commander of the army giving pep talks. He comes in front of his troops, telling them how wonderful they are. He tells them what they are about to accomplish in this fight. He reminds them how wonderful it is for them to die for the cause they are about to enter into. The result for most of those men in the story is death, and they know it. But they are pumped up because of the pep talk given by their commander.
But then I wonder who is stronger there? Is it the one who is leading the pack or those who are fighting in the front lines? Of course, it is the one who can mobilize men to go into the claws of death. He has such power with his words; the foot soldiers will give their lives for him, and for the cause he wants them to die for.
It is called wisdom. Wise thoughts help them to form wise words to induce power into people. Their words have gained power beyond what others can actually deny. It’s like what the proverb says, “wise warriors are mightier than strong ones and those who have knowledge than those who have strength.” Proverbs 24:5. The divine power lies in divine wisdom.
Why else should have counselors to help us through tough times? Why else should there be advisers around a person who has to make big decisions? Because “in abundance of counselors there is victory” according to proverbs.
Let us put it this way. When you can see different angles of a situation, which one person alone can not come to many times, there will be solutions that help the most. If you are acting out of one worldview without being aware of another worldview, your actions will be limited, and your efficacy will be compromised. A good leader is someone who can look at as many different sides of the same problem and then come up with a solution collectively, meaning with the counsel of his wise friends around him.
There is divine power when we take the model of the Trinity. The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, three divine beings work together to come to a cohesive plan when implemented is perfect. Each one has a role to play, but each one also has a role in counseling. Each member of the Trinity is specific in His or Her duty, just as much as each one provides the necessary council to the other.
In the beginning, it was chaotic as the scripture says, and the Holy Spirit moved over it to make things happen. As the potential for everything was planted simultaneously, God moves into action to create and then to recreate and provide eternal assurance through the second person of Jesus. All three work in conjunction with the other so that no piece of the puzzle is lost in the process.
The divine power also requires outrageous patience for God and for man. Even though mankind sinned, failed, and went their own way as the first chapters of the Bible say, God was not in a hurry to send His Son that he promised at the very beginning of this whole fiasco. Of course, I am calculating from a human perspective, because that’s all I can do as a human. I do not have a preview to the divine timeline, or divine sense of time. To me, it took long thousands of years before the promise, Jesus, came to be.
When the Psalmist says, “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,” it is a pure and powerful statement of the way how one gains strength for the journey. It is not just that gives us strength for the journey; it also gives us a worldview, an overview like that of an eagle in the sky looking down on everything below. The eyes of wisdom are hovering over all the problems of the world. Isaiah 40:31
You have read the stories of Esau and Jacob in the Bible. It is said over and over in the womb their mother, Rachel, Esau, and Jacob fought for the primacy. It may be a metaphorical explanation of how they came to be what they eventually turned out; this fight for supremacy continues after their birth. Even though Esau was the firstborn, and therefore, with all the birthright and power, the one who gains them all is Jacob. Regardless of how he got there, it is said, again and again, he got there because he fought for what he believed was his right not alone but with God. It was God who broke his bones because he was fought with God over what be believed to be his. That kind of faith is called power. It is called divine power beyond human making.
In the book of Zachariah, there is a great story of his call to ministry. When he was called, he was given several visions to hold on to for strength and courage. To deal with situations that will arise, he would need them, and therefore, God granted them to Zachariah. One of those visions was that of the Priest Joshua and Satan. The Satan was there to accuse Joshua of everything and even threw the kitchen sink, as we say, at him, for all that went wrong in life. Joshua, of course, had every reason to believe the Satan may be right. But being an upright man, and a chosen one of God, he did not know what to do. God had to intervene and rebuke Satan for making Joshua feel the way he felt and came to his rescue. However, Joshua was wearing filthy clothes, head down, sad and afraid, standing scared for whatever it is that Satan is throwing at him. So the Lord commands His angels to cloth Joshua with clean clothes. Take off the old ones and put on the new ones.
In Paul’s words to the Ephesians, “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4: 22-23.
So the angel removes the filthy clothes, which is said to be filth of guilt and fear. What God asked the angel to remove is not his physical clothes rather than inner clothes of guilt, which is not a divine quality out of him. He has been redeemed, loved, and protected by God himself, and there is no reason to be afraid of Satan, who was taunting him. So the command was to remove the filth of guilt out of him so that he can shine with the power of God. The angel was asked to clothe him in festal clothes, meaning, the clothes that make him clean, happy, princely, and royal. Because in it lies power. The Lord then put a turban, a crown, and an anointing on him, assuring Joshua that it is God who empowers him and nothing else. Zachariah 3.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.” Zachariah 3: 7.
Divine power removes your filth and guilt.
It is then God will grant you the power to heal, to cast out the unclean, to bring life back. Jesus had to remove the filth of those whom he called first before he clothed them with the power. He called his disciples one after another.
To Peter he said, he was good enough to be the rock.
To Thomas, he said he was good enough to question him.
To John, he said he was clothed enough to be present to him.
To Matthew, he said he is rich without the wealth of the world.
To James and John, he said, they don’t need the first place to be in the heart of God.
To Andrew, he said the true search is better than anything.
To Judas, who didn’t believe it, Jesus said he trusts him with his treasure.
I have come to enjoy the songs by Lauren Daigle. In one of her albums, she sings a song called, “You Say.”
In her lyrics, she speaks of the inner voices that say she is not enough, or she will never measure up to the standards of the world. She can not be what the world expects her to be. She feels sad and lost. She can’t seem to be what the rest of the world expects of her to be. Then she goes on to say whenever she does that she hears the voice in her heart that says, “I am loved, when I can’t feel a thing, I am strong, when I feel I am weak, I am held when I am falling short, when I don’t belong, you say, I am yours.” She continues her journey by saying again and again, “I believe.” It is a mantra in her heart that is repeated. I believe that makes her stand up, hold up, measure up, and grow up. In that, she finds her identity, and she finds her worth.
This is what I call divine power. Jesus removes the guilt, the filth first and then tells them how powerful they are. “He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.” Matthew 10: 1
Remember your filthy clothes have been removed, and you are now dressed in festal clothes just like God clothed his priest Joshua when Satan was taunting him with lies and rebukes. Then God takes up the fight for Joshua, fighting back with Satan telling him to get off Joshua’s back.
God will do the same for you. That’s divine power.
© Fr. Jos Tharakan