The Ordinary Fear of God

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

(Isaiah 6:1-5)

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

(Revelation 1:10-18)

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the LORD.”

(Jeremiah 1:4-8)

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

(Matthew 10:26-33)

Sometimes I think that we want to ‘see God.’ That we want a ‘fresh vision of who He is,’ and I think that if we look at some of the verses that are listed above, we can see that to be confronted with the person of God is to come face to face with the fact that we are nothing before Him. To cry like Isaiah did, that we are cursed, that we must surely die. That this death is not simple a physical death, because we still exist, and can see and be seen by that God, rather, it is a total annihilation, so that we cease to exist, that is what we cry for, because there is a need to escape from this alien, holy, perfect, radiant, horribly beautiful being. A being who can see right through us, who can bring us to nothing just by being around us. I read these verses, and I tremble, and I wonder if we really want to see this God, or if we’d rather see a comfortable version of God, and old man in robes that we just can’t see his face. Someone who is safe. The truth is though, that God is not safe, it is not safe for us to be around Him, for He is so other that we cannot comprehend, and when we do see Him, what do we think will happen? Will we be able to stand, more than these ancient men could? Will we not fall down as though we are dead? Will we not fear for our very existence? Will we not come to realise that we have built up a self of shadows and illusion?

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

(Hebrews 10:31)

Do we really want to go there? We need  to go there, because it is there we understand reality, and we know how fallen we truly are, but we also know the depths of what Christ has done for us, and so we must face our own undoing, the unraveling of all that we think we have built that is worth something, but is in reality stubble and hay, that will be burnt up and consumed.

Pursue God, chase Him, ask Him to reveal Himself, for it is for our own good that He does so. Pray for the grace of His holy presence to break in and free you from the prison that you have created for yourself.

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