Summary: John Calvin wrote, "Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God." The more we look at God, the more evil we discover.
Afraid of God
Over the past few weeks on Sunday evenings we have been looking at the Biblical portrait of Jehovah. We have looked at the fact that we were created by God with a holy hunger that only the creator can fill. Then we spent three weeks looking at the qualities we find in the Biblical picture of God.
First we compared God to our Father who provides for us a loving, accepting relationship that draws us to love Him in return.
Next we said that God is like a mother who is fiercely protective and endlessly devoted. And it is His devotion to us that draws us to be devoted to Him.
Then last week we looked at God as a Groom who is chasing His bride. We noticed that there was no beauty found in us until we entered a relationship with God and He made us beautiful.
All of these pictures point to the Nearness that God desires from his children. God is a personal God who comes to dwell among us and live in us. Though it is difficult for adults to believe that he could really be near us, children apparently don’t have that problem. A couple of books have published letters children were asked to write to God. They are filled with confidence that God is involved in our lives and that He’s an approachable God:
Dear God, Thank you for my baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy. Joyce
Dear God, I would like to know why all the things you said are in red? Joanne
Dear God, Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each [other] so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. Larry.
Dear God, Why do so many persons who begin with "I" fight in wars. Iranians. Iracs. Israel. Indians. You name it. Is it just an accident? Maybe you should check on it. It gives all the "I" people a bad name! Best wishes, Ingred.
Special delivery to God, Why not have a few new commandments. How about one that goes - Thou should not have to wash dishes until you are big and older and have a family or two of your own. Think about this, Stephanie.
I often wish that I could have the same boldness to come before God that these children possess. They truly have the understanding that He is one who has chosen to be among us!
A Glimpse of God
But while Scripture describes God as a personal being, as we have noticed over the past 4 weeks, God is also portrayed as one who is completely sovereign. God is awe-inspiring, a being beyond comprehension, who is not made in our image. In one instance He is as close as a brother and then we are reminded of His awesomeness.
Right after describing the confidence we can have in drawing near to God, the writer of Hebrews reminds us: "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (10:31).
Then in Chapter 12 we are admonished to "worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire’ " (12:28, 29).
I think that we need to be aware of focusing solely on one biblical picture of God, that excludes the other facets of His character. Although God is approachable, He is not just an extra-strong big brother. He is God, and we should be filled with wonder that we can approach Him.
If you can try to imagine what it would be like for an ant to try to contemplate a human. Even though the ant can see proof of our existence, we are the ones that brought the food to the picnic, they will never be able to comprehend what we know, our strength, or our ways of doing things. That’s undoubtedly what happens when humans contemplate God. We can only begin to grasp faint notions of his power, love, and holiness.
Though we might want to see him more clearly, we need to remember that, without exception, those in the Bible who glimpsed the holiness of God were dumbstruck and terrified.
Job, after hearing from the Lord, cried: "I am unworthy - how can I reply to you? ... My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 40:4; 42:5, 6) .
Habakkuk, after entering the watchtower and waiting for God’s answer, was seized by dread: "I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled" (Habakkuk 3:16) .
Peter, recognizing the glory of God in the works of Jesus, responds: "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8) .