I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
He, who claims the title, the Lord God Almighty, does not easily fit into a slot designed by humans.
We tend to view him from the human perspective. We realize he has attributes such as omnipotence and omniscience, but we often ignore the implication of such things since we cannot comprehend them.
We can say the words, but we cannot wrap our heads around how that works out in real life. Humans have asked, “If God is all-powerful, can he make something so heavy that he cannot lift it?”
There doesn’t seem to be an answer to that question. “It doesn’t compute” might be our best response. It defies understanding.
We expect some questions to have an either/or answer. We question answers that reply with a both/and.
The prophet Isaiah relayed Jehovah’s message to an Israel about to be invaded by a fierce enemy that would carry away many families to bondage in a heathen land.
This terrified the people because they had seen this happen to their fellow Israelites, who were carted off by merciless Assyrians. Those ten tribes never came back. To this day, they have not been found.
So then, what chance of survival did the people of Judah and Benjamin have?
The Lord God gave them the answer. After 70 years, they would be free to return to their homeland. They would not need to fight their way back. They would be invited to return. They would be set free to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. They would come back carrying treasures.
Hard to believe? It must have been. To give further assurance, the Lord names the Persian king who will set them free. Names him even before he is born.
With boldness, the sacred text declares: “This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor” (Isaiah 45:1).
History reveals it was Cyrus who overthrew the Babylon Empire and declared the Israelites to be free to return home.
How could this be? How could the God of Israel do this? The answer is simple.
He is the Lord of all.
Was he not the one who brought light into being simply by saying, “Let there be light”?
He was. He did that.
We think darkness is merely the absence of light. He says there is more to it. Darkness is something he creates.
Does he bring prosperity? Indeed, he does.
But he also creates disaster.
Death and destruction are under his power. He uses them as he wishes. He will use them for the benefit of those who are called by his name.
The Lord of all used death and destruction to rescue his people from Babylon. He did it again to rescue humanity from bondage to Satan.
This time, it was the death of his Son. This time, destruction came to the power of death. Jesus rose from death, and so will those who follow him.
He said he would do it, and he did it.
What, then, should his people fear?
Surely not disaster. Surely not destruction. Surely not death.
He is the Lord of all!
We are his beloved children.
Prayer: Eternal, almighty, ever-faithful Lord God, we are amazed at your power and overwhelmed by your mercy and love. We thank you for delivering us from the death and destruction we deserve. We dedicate ourselves to your service. We bow in spirit before the loving Lord of all. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- Why should it not frighten us to hear that the Lord creates disaster?
- How would we explain the hymn verse: “Death of death and hell’s destruction”?
- Is there significance to the fact that ancient Babylon is the site of modern Iraq?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.