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Mighty

When I started reading books on suffering, following my daughter's cancer diagnosis, I used two guiding principles for the deciding what to read. First, the book had to be theologically sound with some "meat" (i.e. not a lot of fluff). Second, the book needed to be written by someone who had suffered significantly.


Singer-songwriter Laura Story therefore passed this test with flying colors and I read When God Doesn't Fix It as well as So Long, Normal. They're honest, and yet not too tell-all. And, in her writings, she never loses sight of a very good God. One who is mighty to save.


So, I also like listening to her version of Mighty To Save (https://youtu.be/W1jmqVU4RDo), knowing her backstory of being married to someone with a brain tumor and who continues to cope with its residual effects on their life after its removal.


God is indeed mighty to save, but that doesn't mean that He gives us a trouble-free life. That's simply not the point of our lives, although we Americans seem to believe so.


"Mighty God" is the second Name in that spectacularly impressive giant name/title of God in Isaiah 9 (pele yoetz el gibbor abid ad sar shalom). The Hebrew for "Mighty God" is El Gibbor.


Unlike El Shaddai, which had a great deal of complexity in its origins and imagery, El Gibbor is comparatively straightforward. "El" refers to God and "Gibbor" means mighty, often referring to a warrior such as David or Joshua.


We see El Gibbor particularly clearly in the verse on which the song, "Mighty to Save," is based on: Zephaniah 3:17.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

In researching El Gibbor, I'm again reminded how much we politicize God. I saw some writing about El Gibbor saying that this isn't a "sissy God," that God is a warrior and, therefore, is no sissy. First of all, is that even something that needs to be said? Secondly, it's unfortunate enough that we pigeonhole humans into rigid gender expectations (i.e. women like make-up and the color pink), let alone God. Two of the gibbor warriors above, David and Joshua, do not lose a trace of their manliness when they are worshipping and dancing before the Lord, or singing, or sitting quietly in contemplation in their leader's tent. Why on earth do we need to qualify God's mightiness by explaining how He isn't like a woman? Sigh.


In this "proof" passage from Zephaniah, we see an amazing, fully fleshed-out description of El Gibbor. The context is the return of the remnant of Israel, and Israel is told that their God is with them. He is the Mighty Warrior Who saves. He takes great delight in His people. And He sings over them.


Jesus, who we Christians see jumping off the pages of Isaiah 9 in living color, is Mighty God before He is even born as a human. The Our Daily Bread site (https://ourdailybread.org/resources/mighty-god/) quotes John 1 (looove John 1!!!), saying,


The Bible clearly states that Christ displayed His might by creating the world before He physically entered it. John 1:3 says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Colossians 1:16 agrees: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
Christ’s display of might in the act of creation distinguished Him from mere humans. We have the ability to make things, but we require some basic raw materials. Christ showed His might in the ability to create—to make something out of nothing. It takes divine might to truly create. Christ demonstrated that power in the most profound way—by creating the universe.

Mighty indeed! And yet Jesus was gentle and lowly when teaching and healing the weak and heavy-laden.


This is the God we serve.


Do we believe this? Spurgeon, in his sermon on "Mighty God" in Isaiah 9 (https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/his-name-the-mighty-god/#flipbook/) talks about how if we truly believed He was the Mighty God and were truly His disciples, we'd fix all our hope on Him:


Now, observe, you are either resting on man, or else you have declared Christ to be "the mighty God."

"Mighty God" is a nice name and nice words, but it's meaningless to us unless we truly believe Him to be mighty. Mighty enough to create all things. Mighty enough to save and redeem all things. Mighty enough to bring the victory, and that means over the big and small things in this world. If we can't trust Jesus for the everyday things of our life, if we feel that we need to micromanage and control things because we don't really trust others and certainly not God to carry things out the way we think they should be...well, then, He is not Mighty God to us.


I think Spurgeon is spot-on here; it really is an either-or.


The Precept Austin site is such a good one, and it opens its section on El Gibbor with this (https://www.preceptaustin.org/el_gibbor-mighty_god):


Are you growing weary and losing heart?...Are you facing some seemingly insurmountable "mountain" of difficulty? Is there some "impossible situation" in a relationship with your spouse, a family member, a friend, a co-worker, etc?...Whenever God allows us to experience circumstances we think are too difficult, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith, choosing to consider Him Who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that we may not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:2-3+) The Greek word for "fixing" (aphorao in Heb 12:2+) literally means to turn our eyes away from those things which are nearby (e.g., our difficulties) and instead to steadfastly fix them on something else, in this case SOMEONE else! And one of the best ways to fix our eyes on Jesus is by meditating on the manifold truths inherent in Messiah's many majestic Names. As Jeremiah testified "No one is like You, O LORD. You are great, and Your Name is MIGHTY in power." (Jer 10:6NIV+) May our Father enable us by His "Spirit of grace" (Heb 10:29b+) to turn our eyes away from our difficulty and instead to focus steadfastly on Messiah's great Name MIGHTY GOD. Amen. Indeed, this great Name, EL GIBBOR, is for all of us in great need - He is now and forever our MIGHTY GOD, the One Who is eternally "MIGHTY TO SAVE" (see Zeph 3:17).

I've been thinking a lot about impossible situations lately. I think I've breathed in the ethos of American "can-do-itness" as much as anybody and it comes to a great shock to me to be in situations in which I have limited control. I honestly feel like I have been hearing a still, small voice say to just fix my eyes on Jesus. And, also, to just worship. To turn to praise and to look to Christ.


We don't have to explain and set parameters on the Mighty God--we just need to look to Him.


In every adventure movie (I'm a big fan of adventure films as well as books), when the hero is on the scene doing something spectacular, all eyes are on him or her. My son was sick with strep throat the other day and just wanted to relax and watch the Jumanji movie that features The Rock. The other characters can hardly keep their eyes off Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. That's how we are to be with our Hero of Heaven, El Gibbor.










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