Trembling at His Word in Awe and Wonder

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This post is a continuation of Why Live in the Fear of the Lord?


The prophet, Isaiah, had the greatness of God on his mind when he called the people of God to stand in awe of Him and respond to His Word:

Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word. (Isaiah 66:5a)

The prophet spoke these words in light of the captivity of Israel. The people had walked away from their creator God, who had delivered them from Egypt and shepherded them through the wilderness. Instead of seeking God in the midst of their enemies and fears, they gave themselves to lesser gods.

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:7-8)

Now they were facing God’s judgment and cried out to Him. Isaiah sought to move the people to call upon God in the fear of the Lord and seek His mercy in the midst of their pain and slavery.

Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:9)

God’s terrible anger brings us good reason to fear Him! When the holy standards of God are violated, our iniquities separate us from His presence, and the penalty of our sin awaits us. David learned this truth in a very costly lesson.

Although King David enjoyed intimacy with his God and led the people in prayer and worship, he learned afresh what it meant to “tremble at His Word.” When the ark of the covenant was being carried to Jerusalem, the oxen pulling the cart stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark (2 Samuel 6:6).

When he touched the ark—the most holy object that symbolized the presence of the Lord—God struck him down, and he died (2 Samuel 6:7b). We read David’s response to Uzzah’s death:

And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:8-9)

God had given explicit instructions on how to transport the ark (Exodus 25:13-15). But they disobeyed God’s command, thus making the ark unstable. Touching the holy ark was also a direct violation of God’s command (Numbers 4:15). We might look at the mode of transporting the ark or touching it as minor offenses, but that shows how little we understand about the fear of the Lord and His absolute holiness. David may have been angry with himself for treating God’s holiness so lightly and not fearing Him as he should. But after the death of Uzzah, “David was afraid of the Lord.”

How wonderful it is to live in light of the cross! Christ bore the fullness of God’s wrath at Calvary, and His righteous anger was satisfied toward us because of our faith in Him. But, like David, we are still learning a lot about God’s ways. Sometimes the things that happen in this fallen world challenge our view of God, just as happened with David when Uzzah touched the ark. We will never fully understand the ways of our God; we will always live in the fear of the Lord.

God is always bigger and more mysterious than any human mind can grasp. The God who rules this world in His sovereign power and glory is not predictable or manageable. Even though He is our Father, we will never be completely comfortable in His presence. We often hear people say of God, in light of a tragedy or injustice, “That is not a God I can be comfortable with.” But when we finally create a god in our minds with whom we can feel comfortable, we no longer have a God who is worthy of our worship, or one who is able to hear and answer our prayers.

LIVING IN AWE AND WONDER

I find it interesting that the dictionary defines awe as “a mix of veneration, terror, wonder and fright.” When we stand in awe of our God, we experience the tensions of those characteristics together at once! That was Job’s response to God when he felt God had treated him unjustly and owed him an explanation for his suffering. God did not give Job an explanation. Instead, God gave Job a bigger view of His greatness, power, and glory over all His creation.

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:3-5)

The prophet Habakkuk responded in a similar way when God was about to act in a way that did not conform to his human expectations or fit into his worldview. God was going to use the hated Babylonians to bring judgment on His own people. Habakkuk was confused and even cried out in protest before the Lord! Israel was God’s chosen nation, and the Babylonians were more evil than they were. But when he knew that God would fulfill His purposes and the earth would still be filled with His glory as the waters cover the sea, he said,

But the Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Habakkuk 2:20)

When we live and pray in the fear of the Lord, we do not run away from Him because we are afraid of how He will respond to us. Rather, we are drawn to Him because of His beauty, greatness, power, and goodness. We know His steadfast love for us, and we have experienced the faithfulness of our God. We believe what God has said about our sin and His wrath. It is finished! We come boldly before Him because of the blood of Christ. Yet we always bear in mind that we are finite and He is infinite. So we come to Him in reverence, wonder, and worship.

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3:11-12)

MEDITATION AND PRAYER

Thank you, Father, for opening this relationship of love, life, and security with me as Your child. Let me never escape the wonder of Your grace to me! Please let me remember, too, that the One who has provided this relationship is the God of the universe. Permit me to walk with an awareness of Your power and glory, and may I always acknowledge that the Lord I worship and serve is the sovereign of the universe.

Lord, please make me wise as I walk in the fear of Your greatness. When I live knowing that You are in heaven and I am on the earth, it helps shape my perspective to be more in awe of You. I confess there is so much I do not understand, and sometimes I feel there is so little I am able to accomplish for Your pleasure because I am made of dust. Please display Your greatness in me as I seek Your power displayed in my weakness, and even in my smallness may I walk with You. Lord, fill this earth with Your glory as the waters cover the sea.


This post is an adaptation from Bill Mills’ new book Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters & Meditations on Prayerwhich is available in paperback or an eBook in our webstoreAmazon, and in the iBooks Store.

From July 20th—23rd, a free sampler of Language of the Heart is available in the Kindle store.

Below is a short interview with Bill Mills, the founder of Leadership Resources and author of Language of the Heart.

Bill Mills

Bill Mills is one of the founders of Leadership Resources International. His ministry began in youth work, where God gave him a heart for encouraging young people by teaching them the Bible. That same vision has remained through the development of our church conferences, pastoral training, and work with missions. Bill’s passion is still to bring the encouragement of the Scriptures to God’s people in order to equip them for ministry, and God has graciously allowed him to fulfill that passion through many hundreds of conferences throughout the world. Bill studied at North Park College, Northern Baptist Seminary, Luther Rice Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Two of Bill’s great joys are sharing this work with his life partner, Karen, and fishing with his two sons, Peter and Joel.

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