God is all powerful
Jer 32:27/ Matt 19:26
God is not all powerful
1) What is the supposed contradiction and why is it believable?
Jeremiah 32:27 says, “27Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?”
Mathew 19:26 says, “26But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.”
Judges 1:19 says, “19The Lord was with Judah, and [Judah] drove out the inhabitants of the hill country, but he could not drive out those inhabiting the [difficult] valley basin because they had chariots of iron.”
There are many more examples of God’s all encompassing power throughout the bible. It is an interesting thought, however, why the house of Judah was not able to drive out certain inhabitants if God was with them.
2) What is the truth in these verses and why do they NOT actually contradict each other?
In believing in God, we accept the inherent truth that God is all powerful. Both verses referenced here relate to this truth. Let’s look at these verses in depth.
Ironically, Jeremiah was a prophet that for over 40 years testified to God’s judgment on the house of Judah. It is interesting given the supposed contradictory statement about Judah, isn’t it? In the story from which this verse is taken, Jeremiah is telling what the Lord told him to do and why. Jeremiah was instructed to buy a piece of land which was already overthrown by a warring nation. Babylon was at the city walls ready to take over the city of Judah. Jeremiah worships God and actually explains even more so God’s power, “17Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You–18You Who show loving-kindness to thousands but recompense the iniquity of the fathers into the bosoms of their children after them. The great, the mighty God; the Lord of hosts is His name–19Great [are You] in counsel and mighty in deeds, Whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to reward or repay each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings,20Who wrought signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day [continues to do so], both in Israel and among other men, and made for Yourself a name, as at this day.21And You brought forth Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm and with great terror;22And You gave them this land which You swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey;23And they entered and took possession of it, but they obeyed not Your voice, nor walked in Your law; they have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do. Therefore You have caused all this evil to come upon them.” God’s promise was to give back the land to Israel once they had been overthrown. God’s purpose for this was to rid the nation of all the people who had turned their backs on Him and begun to worship other gods, “29And the Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come in and set this city on fire and burn it, along with the houses on whose roofs incense has been offered to Baal and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods to provoke Me to anger.” God’s statement of nothing being to difficult for Him is repeated by Christ Himself in Mathew.
The referenced verse in Mathew is the ending of a story in which a rich man came to Jesus asking Him what he must do to be saved. The man claimed to have followed all the commandments but as we find out, the man loved his wealth. Jesus uses this to teach His disciples that “23And Jesus said to His disciples, Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven.24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go into the kingdom of heaven.” This of course, referring to wealthiness in this world. Notice He did not say it is impossible, rather more difficult for someone more invested in this world to become invested in the Kingdom. The disciples then wondered, “25When the disciples heard this, they were utterly puzzled (astonished, bewildered), saying, Who then can be saved [from eternal death]?” Christ’s reply was the referenced verse, “26But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.” Only God can save man, not man himself. Notice the reference in the Old Testament was more of a physical connotation but Jesus’ example was more spiritual.
As we move onto the reference to God being with Judah, yet Judah not being able to overcome some inhabitants in their way, let’s first look at the purpose behind the book of Judges. It is a record of the “clean up” operations of the Promised Land. At this point, Israel had mostly occupied this land, but there still remained sections of strongholds held by the Canaanites. Judges were appointed to rule of sections of the land, similar to provincial rulers. This specific section that Judah was trying to overthrow was not able to be overthrown for a reason. The reason is seen clearly in chapter 2. Chapter 1 of Judges is classified as the “political background” meaning the face value/ man’s sight of things. In other words, this is why we see accounts of military strength (like how many and what kind of chariots there were in certain battles.) Chapter 2 identifies the spiritual side of things, the reason behind why the battles turned out the way they did. It’s God’s explanation for the outcome. Chapter 2 opens up with, “1NOW THE Angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And He said, I brought you up from Egypt and have brought you to the land which I swore to give to your fathers, and I said, I will never break My covenant with you;2And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; but you shall break down their altars. But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?3So now I say, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you. 4When the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the Israelites, the people lifted up their voice and wept.” You see, God made them a conditional promise before they even entered the Promised Land. He told them that all enemies would easily fall to their hands, that He would bless them, but only if they kept their part of the deal…which they did not. This is seen just before the referenced verse in Judges 1:16, “16And the descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the Judahites from the City of Palms (Jericho) into the Wilderness of Judah, which lies in the South (the Negeb) near Arad; and they went and dwelt with the people.” We talked about this before: God blesses you when you are obedient. So, was God able to help them overthrow the Caananites in the valley? Absolutely! It didn’t happen because they didn’t listen to Him.
3) How can we use this to educate ourselves and others to further the Kingdom?
I feel that lately I have been challenged with many questions involving God’s sovereignty. Maybe it’s just because I am going through these supposed contradictions so I feel attacked as I study them. However, if we reject that God is all powerful, omnipotent, and all encompassing, then we can’t go any farther until we work that out. If we choose to ignore God as He truly is (yes, it’s ALWAYS a choice), then nothing else will matter until we come to that realization. Some people may never come to that realization, unfortunately. But when we DO realize that, we can’t make it fit our ideals. We can’t recognize God’s omnipotence when it suits us and deny it other times.
The bible: Many people contest that “it is written and spoiled by man, so how can we say it’s the Word of God?” My answer is this, “How can we acknowledge God is all powerful, yet not recognize that He has the power to control what is written in the bible?” Seriously. Saying that God is God, then putting human limitations on Him is senseless. This ties back into the verse in Judah.
God IS all powerful. In our humanistic ways, however, we tend to see His inaction as weakness. We ignore the fact that we screwed something up, which results in God’s inaction. We make a covenant with Him, He lays out the guidelines, then when we stray from the plan, we get ticked off at Him because He didn’t hold up His end of the bargain, even though we didn’t hold up ours. Doesn’t seem very fair to me. Certainly as we get more and more lethargic we develop this sense of entitlement. Get this straight: GOD DOESN’T OWE US ANYTHING!!! He blesses us with Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness because He loves us, period.
The more we accept that God is God, and He isn’t human, the closer our relationship will grow with Him and we will be able to hold up our end of the bargain. He actually helps us do it if we let Him. Faith, obedience, discernment, forgiveness, and love all work this way. If we “let go and let God” then we will be blessed. He will hold up His end of the bargain because we held up ours: Luke 10 “26Jesus said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it?27And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.28And Jesus said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live [enjoy active, blessed, endless life in the kingdom of God].”