“The Son is the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor, the exact expression of God’s true nature—his mirror image! He holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word. He accomplished for us the complete cleansing of sins, and then took his seat on the highest throne at the right hand of the majestic One.” – Hebrews 1:3 (TPT).
We all have times in our lives when God feels distant, when He seems silent, and when we can’t see Him working. These times can last for a day or for a season, and one of the biggest challenges we face during these times is being tempted to humanize God in order to make Him easier to understand. In other words, we have a tendency to reduce God to a human level as we try to comprehend His ways. We should never lose a sense of awe before God, to be overwhelmed by the wonder, the depth of the greatness of God. We should be in awe of God’s transcendence, of His holiness and uniqueness. We can’t even begin to comprehend His greatness, His glory, His might, His majesty, His justice, His mercy, His love. All of these attributes in Him are beyond our broadest, wildest imagination.
The concept of awe runs in a thread that appears in some of the most significant stories in the Bible. For instance, after Jesus rebuked the wind, the disciples were described as being “terrified and amazed.” (Luke 8:25). The women who found the tomb empty were described as “trembling and bewildered” (Mark 16:8). Those first filled with the Holy Spirit were described as being “amazed and perplexed” (Acts 2:12). Saul’s companions were “speechless” when Jesus appeared, and it would be fair to say that Paul’s conversion to Christianity involved being awestruck (see Acts 9:1-19).
Most of those stories I mentioned refer to the emotion of awe, a powerful and short-term reaction to a particular situation. However, there are many passages in the Bible that teach that people should be generally sensitive to the awesomeness of God. For example, we are told in Isaiah 29:9: “Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor!” Again, we are told to “Stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God!” (Job 37:14). In the New Testament, believers are encouraged to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12 ESV). Much of this comes together in the consistent Biblical teaching that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 1:7), the basic idea being that an awesome respect for God is central to leading a fulfilled life.
We should never let our life become so routine in prayer or Bible reading or in worship. There is an awe that should mark every prayer, every Bible reading and every worship service. Paul tells us in Romans 11:33: “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!” The Bible puts an exclamation point on that, and the same thing at the end of the next sentence, “How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” He’s so beyond our understanding, we can’t even begin to understand the wonders of His ways, His judgments, His riches, His wisdom, His knowledge. It’s unending and we are left in awe.
- What does it mean to be in awe of God in a day-to-day way?
- What can we do to ensure we never lose our awe of who God is and what He did for us?