Today we want to answer the question, according to the Bible, is Jehovah really omnipotent (all-powerful)? Again, I am not saying that the Bible does not say that He is, I am saying that the Bible also says that He is not.
Let us suppose, as I mentioned earlier, that at times the Bible writers confused the traits of the "A-field" with the traits of Jehovah. If that happened, than, at times they would have written that God (the "A-field") is all powerful but at other times, they were saying that God (Jehovah) is limited as to power, time, and location.
Is Jehovah really all powerful?
Part of the story of Moses goes like this, And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. Ex. 4:24. What can we gather from this statement except that Jehovah set out on a mission, and failed to accomplish it. The reason for the failure is not given, unless we believe that Moses's wife (Zipporah), successfully acted the part of an intermediary, and caused Jehovah to change His mind. But, if we believe that, than we are forced to admit that the Lord did not foresee the future, or the part that Zipporah would play in the scene!
About Jacob we read, Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks”. But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”. Gen. 32:24-26.
It is possible to rewrite this and replace the pronouns with proper names without changing the meaning. See what it looks like now! Then Jacob was left alone; and Jehovah wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when Jehovah saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, Jehovah touched the socket of Jacob's hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as Jacob wrestled with Jehovah. And Jehovah said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks”. But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”. Some argue that it was not Jehovah that was wrestling with Jacob. But before they get carried away in their defense of Jehovah, as if He needs defending, notice what Hosea said about this story. And in his strength he (Jacob) struggled with God (Jehovah). Hosea 12:3. In reading this story, we realize that the contest between Jacob and Jehovah was quite even; but how can we compare Jacob's strength with omnipotence?
Concerning God’s omnipotence, it is important to think in terms of comparison. The Bible teaches that Jehovah is Almighty. To the saints of Old Testament times it must have seemed that way because of the many ways in which their God had worked miracles for them. The Bible also teaches that the power of life and death is in the Lord’s hand. This much can also be said about a modern skilled surgeon who successfully performs a heart transplant; or, in another case, the power of death is in the doctor's hand when he orders that the life support system be stopped.
It is impossible, for the human mind, to fit together Jehovah's omnipotence and his holiness and infinite vastness with the mess that the world is in. If the Lord were perfectly holy, omnipresent and omnipotent it would be necessary for Him to eradicate all the sin in the universe since absolute holiness and sin cannot co-habit.
In the New Testament Saint Paul wrote, Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor. 1:25. The very fact that the Scriptures compare God’s wisdom and strength with men’s is an indication that Jehovah is not omniscient or omnipotent. “Omni” cannot be compared to humanity’s feebleness because infinity has no comparison! Paul, however, does compare God’s weakness with men’s strength, thereby indicating that they are at least on the same “playing field”.
In the next post we will explore the idea of Jehovah's omnipresence.