Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Not a "Tame" God

Majesty.  Glory. Trembling before Him.  These are all concepts in our modern, more comfortable ways that are hard to resonate with.  

But I remember the first time I stood on the shore before pounding waves and realized just how small and powerless I am.  I've seen the magnificence of a lightening storm in the West Texas sky.  I've ridden up, up, up, up the mountainside at the top of India only to look up and find myself dwarfed by the Himalayas still above.  I've been on a boat in the South Pacific and been amazed by the seemingly bottomless, clear depths of the deep, Deep Blue. 

Creation clearly shouts His majesty and power.  If we only stop to listen.

One of my favorite parts of the Bible is where God speaks to Elijah in a whisper.  Elijah has just experienced one of the highlights of his 'career.'  After the prophets of Baal asked Baal to answer all day long and the heavens were silent, Elijah called God just ONCE----and fire fell from heaven.  It must have been a big 'Ah ha!" moment for everyone there.  Jaw dropping proof of the might and power of the Almighty, Living God. 

But others denied that moment, threatened Elijah's life, and he ran. He ran into the wilderness and begged for God to take his life.  God sent strength in the form of food at the hands of an angel instead.  Then for forty days more Elijah ran.  He ran to the mountain where God had spoken to another great prophet.  A man who had led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. A man used mightily by God who was actually just as human as Elijah.

The story gives me chills:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  (1 Kings 19:11-13)

During the impressive disasters of windstorm, earthquake, and fire Elijah went from standing before God on the mountain to hiding in a cave.  Uh, yeah!  I think that would have been a given for me, too!  

But then God spoke in a 'gentle whisper'...............

When Moses stood on that same mountain he spoke with God face to face.  His physical body responded so strongly to being in the presence of God's glory that his face glowed----even behind a veil.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of Moses on the mountain as well.  It's a beautiful picture of how, through the blood of Jesus, we are sons not servants.  And an intense picture of how the sacrifice that Jesus made for us enables us to come into the very throne room of the Father, not hover terrified, trembling, and separate on a mountain:

"You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness and gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai.  For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking.  They staggered back under God's command: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death."  Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, "I am terrified and trembling."

No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering.  You have come to the assembly of God's firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things.  You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect.  You have come to Jesus, the one who mediated the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel..............

........Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe.  For our God is a devouring fire."  (Hebrews 12:18-24, 28-29)

He's our Savior, our Best Friend, but we often seem to forget that He's also a 'devouring fire" to be worshipped with 'holy fear and awe.'  Yet, as Oswald Chambers so eloquently said, "He comes with a grip of the pierced hand of his Son, and says 'Enter into fellowship with me; arise and shine."'

While we are to seek Him, the very same God who was at Sinai is always reaching out to US through the 'pierced hand of his Son.'  With a whisper.  And a nail-scared grip that never lets go.

And when we get to know Him, He's never EVER boring!

"He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” (C.S Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)