The Power Behind the Power

Norbert Lieth

What calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee reveals about our Lord, the unseen world, and our lives.

The storm was raging, the disciples were afraid, but the Lord was sleeping. One might ask how the Lord could even sleep in this situation. Maybe He was just too tired after all of His earlier exertions and troubles. Neither the raging storm, nor the water in the boat, nor the great danger, woke Him up. But when His disciples called to Him, he reacted immediately.

Secure in His Power
This incident teaches us a spiritual lesson. There was a storm; the ship was flooding; they were in great danger; everyone around the Lord was afraid … but Jesus was sleeping. For us, this means that those who know they are safe in Jesus have peace of mind in every situation. Those who know the plan, the purpose, and the promises of God can rest in them. They don’t need to panic. And the one who has complete trust in the Almighty can cope with any situation. He has power over our powerlessness.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3). “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety” (Ps 4:8).

Storms may come upon us, and our lifeboat threatens to sink; we’re surrounded by dangers, and fear wants to spread. We think we’re sinking, far from shore, and the Lord isn’t responding. In all these things, our faith can stand the test. We can remind ourselves that the Lord is on top of things and knows how to master every situation. That’s why the disciples call Him “Master.”

The Power Behind the Power
Jesus rebuked (cursed, threatened) the wind and the waves, and there was a great stillness. Inanimate things like matter and energy, with no personality, can’t actually be scolded: only things with a personality. Jesus threatened the Pharisees and scribes and demons (as well as Peter), and he scolded his disciples for their unbelief. Once the Lord even cursed a fig tree, but it had served as a symbol of Israel’s 

The fact that Jesus rebuked the storm could indicate that an unseen force was behind it. Satan and His demons were trying to prevent Jesus and His disciples from reaching the other shore, because the Gadarenes were living there and the demons were causing mischief.

We read in the book of Revelation that angels hold the four winds at the four corners of the earth, and will later damage the earth and the sea (Rev 7:1-2). This shows that personages are behind natural events: good angels, but also evil ones (demons). We also see in Revelation that Satan hurls a stream of water after the woman (a symbol for Israel) to carry her away (Rev 12:15). Again, a person is recognizable behind the substance of water.

In the territory of the Gadarenes, there was a legion of unclean spirits who entered the pigs and threw themselves into the Sea of Galilee (Matt 8:32). The pigs died, but what became of the evil spirits? It’s interesting that the story of the exorcism of the evil spirits, occurs immediately after the calming of the storm. Could the sea have been an abode of demons?

Paul writes, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph 6:12).

Obviously, Satan can still influence natural events with his army of demons. He doesn’t want the Lord Jesus to reach the other shore with His believers (later, with the remnant of Israel and this world). Satan will be cast out from there. That’s why he stirs up the sea of nations. We know that the Church’s place is in heaven, and that it will one day be caught up there in the Rapture (1 Thess 4). We also know that Satan will be cast down from heaven and thrown to earth (Rev 12). Satan will be bound before the establishment of the millennial kingdom, so he can no longer deceive the peoples. And finally, we know that God’s victory is that the Messiah will reign as King on earth (Ps 22). Satan wants to prevent all these things from happening with all his might, and that’s why he churns the ocean in his anger.

This reality in the invisible realm could well have been the reason why Jesus not only spoke to the storm as the Creator, but also rebuked it as Lord. Throughout Revelation, we read of spiritual beings—good and evil—battling each other and exerting their influence over world events. Some want to prevent Jesus’ return, and others are in God’s service for the fulfillment of His Word.

What’s behind our global crises and natural phenomena? Is it demonic forces, churning up the ocean and causing fear and panic, with God’s permission? Posing a great danger to the world, and hoping to ensure its downfall? We must keep this perspective on biblical prophecy and spiritual reality in mind, not least so we can act in a way that is spiritually correct.

Just as the disciples called out to Jesus, Israel will call out to Him in the future. “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come … O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea … Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people” (Ps 65:2, 5, 7).

The Power Above All Power
“O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?” (Ps 89:8).

We live in extraordinary, exciting times. The Church’s ship of life is also being shaken. But we have the Lord in our midst. His rest is our rest. He will arise in His time and demonstrate His power. He’ll bring us through the storms of time to the other shore. We will not perish, but will certainly arrive. In doing so, however, our faith will be repeatedly challenged.

“And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him” (Luke 8:25).

Why did the Lord rebuke the disciples’ unbelief? Because they were afraid of sinking, even though the Lord had given them the promise of reaching the other shore: “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth” (v. 22).

They didn’t truly believe He would get them to the other side. They believed they were more at the mercy of the wind and the waves than believing His Word. That’s why they acted out of panic. If you give up your faith, you become powerless, and powerlessness wins.

If Jesus says to us, “Let us go over unto the other side,” and if He Himself is with us, then we’ll get there no matter how terrible the raging storms are on the way. He has promised us the destination of the shore of His kingdom, and we’ll reach it through all our troubles. He will ensure that we won’t perish but arrive safely. As Hans Peter Royer once said, “Sometimes God calms the storm, but sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms his child.”

Midnight Call - 01/2024

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