We are familiar with the playground taunt, “my father can beat up your father.” To a small child dad is omnipotent, there’s nothing he can’t do and what a comfort that is. Our father’s power was our security. I thought about titling my sermon, “My God can beat up your god” but decided that might come off as a bit too irreverent. How powerful is God? The rhetorical question is asked in Scripture, “Is anything too hard for God?” and the reply comes back, “Nothing is too hard for God” (Jeremiah 32:26-27; 17). One of the most frequent designations or titles for God is Lord God Almighty (used over fifty times in Scripture and only of God). Almighty just means all powerful and the Latin word for that is omnipotent. Almighty is might to the superlative degree. God isn’t just strong, He is most strong, the strongest. Yes, our God is stronger than any other god, our God can beat up any other god. He has all the power to do whatever He decides to do. And if He doesn’t do something, it isn’t because He can’t. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37) and all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Certain branches of the military like to boast that the difficult they can do immediately, the impossible will take a little longer. For God hard, difficult and impossible are all the same, instantly easy. He can do anything as easily as anything else. It takes God the same time and effort and energy to create a galaxy and a daisy. In fact, God’s power is effortless, He never breaks a sweat to do everything He does. In fact, He is able to do far more than He even does. He could raise up children from stones or make stones into bread or make rocks sing if He chose to. And here we have to make a quick clarification, there are some things God can’t do. That’s why I said God’s omnipotence is His ability to do whatever He wills to do. God cannot will or do anything that is contrary to His nature or His other attributes. God can’t sin or be tempted (James 1:13), God can’t lie (Hebrews 6:17), God can’t contradict Himself or deny Himself (II Timothy 2:13), God can’t cease to exist and God can’t do something illogical or irrational like make a rock so large He can’t lift it. The statement is nonsense. God can’t make a round square or a four-sided triangle or a house that is larger on the inside than on the outside. Those are non-realities, they are nothing. To say God can’t do these things doesn’t negate that God can do whatever He wills to do.
We resume where we left off in chapter 12. The cast of players is the same. There is the great red, seven-headed dragon who is Satan. There is the woman who is OT Israel and NT church, meaning the people of God in all ages. There is the child born who is Christ. In 12:5 we had the summary of the life of Christ from birth to ascension. Now we have the ramifications of that life described in detail. The scene described here in this vision is not the fall of Satan around the time of creation, but the defeat of Satan in the crucifixion and resurrection. With the cross came sweeping consequences not just personally and not just globally, but cosmically.
We are talking about God this summer, about knowing God better through knowing His attributes. When I say the word God what comes to your mind? Some think of a Supreme Court Judge sitting on His throne, judging the world. When we break the rules He punishes us. Some think of a cosmic grandpa or favorite uncle doting on us. We ask and He’s supposed to give us good things. Some think of a coach or a boss who tells us what to do. We are supposed to do our best and if we do we are rewarded in some way. Some think of a wise teacher who wants us to know everything in His text book because someday there will be a test. We are supposed to memorize it and spit it back out. If we get an “A” that’s good. If we misbehave we might get detention or “breakfast club.” Some think of God as a father. But even that’s risky because there are so many different kinds of fathers. Some people have a mental image of father as someone full of hugs and kisses and tickles. For some the word father conjures up the smell alcohol and swear words. Some people hear the word father and remember wise sayings and sage advice. Some people cringe at the word, fearing another hit or worse, some inappropriate touch. And some hear the word father and come up empty, nothing there, just flat. This universe is created by a God who is more than anything else a father. He is a father unlike any other kind of father you have ever met. He is a million times better than even the very best father who has ever lived. If we really want to know God then we need to know what kind of father He is and we are going to have to let Him tell us from Scripture, because the message through the world and our earthly fathers is garbled and muddled, a mixed message at best.
We are talking this summer about knowing God, really knowing God; drilling as deeply as finite humans can into the nature of the infinite God. One reason for doing this is because the consequences of not knowing God are huge. When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing–they believe in anything. One of the first things to go when you don’t believe in God is common sense. The whole thing with the Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner is a perfect example of someone who has fallen into utter confusion about God and himself. The problem is not that there are troubled souls in our world who are confused about their identity. There have always been and there will always be. The problem is that our culture no longer believes in God or fears God, so it will fall for anything and everything. The problem is a culture that is calling good evil and evil good. The problem is a culture that says the only crazy people are the ones who raise their hand and say, “Excuse me, but …” Brothers and sisters, in a world that doesn’t know God, we must know God and be able to articulate as clearly as possible who He is and what He is like and what that means for us and our world. So let’s begin with the question, “Is Our God a Know-it-all?” Does God really know everything? Is God omniscient and what does that mean for us?
We are at the half way point of Revelation, eleven chapters down and eleven to go. It is fitting to note that the end of chapter eleven is a pinnacle kind of chapter. Last week we were listening to trumpets and singing: Revelation 11:15-16 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Christ has ascended to His throne and has been coronated as King and has begun His reign. It is a Sunday to Monday kind of jolt when a new scene opens and we come face to face with Satan. When we walk out of the doors of the church we walk back into a world ruled by a devil. When we turn the page to Revelation 12 we are flashing back to the middle of the story and the story is a war, a battle scene, with images we have never seen or heard before. Is there anything more vulnerable than a woman about to give birth? She is totally preoccupied with one thing, all her mental, emotional and physical energy focused on one thing. Is there anything more frightening or threatening than a huge dragon, unless it would be seven headed dragon with ten horns? We are entering a powerful drama filled with danger and intensity, a great clash of good and evil. A dragon that intends to eat the world’s last hope the moment it’s born. Let’s look at the three characters in this great drama.
In this season of graduations, why do we honor graduates for every new level of learning and achievement, whether it’s eighth grade, high school, trade school, college or post-graduate? We generally consider knowledge a good thing. We send our children to school because we place a high value on knowledge and we hope they get some there. Acquiring knowledge is a good and necessary and noble pursuit. There is one thing supremely more important than everything else. It is of such importance you can’t go to heaven without knowing it. Jesus Himself said, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). I would like us to take the summer to get to know God better. I mean really get to know God, to drill as deeply as we can into His character and nature. Our generation is losing touch with God, losing a sense of the awesome splendor and majesty of God, losing a sense of the true greatness of God. We are getting ho-hum, complacent, bored. Our God is getting smaller and smaller. Our God today is hardly worth thinking about or meditating on. In our busy, activity filled, pleasure seeking, self-absorbed culture the words, “Be still and know that I am God” have no meaning or interest. I want to stir us up this summer to grow in knowing God, to stir up our hearts to seek Him in deeper ways that we might love Him more and be filled with the peace and joy of knowing Him. I believe that such knowledge is relevant for every aspect of our lives, for our marriages, for our parenting and grand parenting, for our careers and for our retirement, for our relationships, our fears, our questions about life. All of us have problems in our lives. Graduate school issues are not helped with elementary school knowledge of God. If our God is too small or if we think wrongly about God our problems and issues just get worse. It matters that you know God and it matters what you think about God.
For six days the people of Israel marched around the city of Jericho in silence. But on the seventh day, seven priest carrying seven trumpets before the ark of the covenant let out a great blast from the ram’s horns and the people gave a great shout and the walls of Jericho fell down and the people of God entered the Promise Land, the land of God’s covenant promise. When John saw in his vision the seventh angel blowing the seventh trumpet there were loud shouts of many voices in heaven, and the promised kingdom of Christ was ushered in and the temple of heaven was opened up with its ark of the covenant. The entering of the Promised Land so long ago was a foreshadowing of God’s people entering the kingdom of Christ. The mystery the prophets had predicted was now fulfilled. Revelation 10:7 in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.