Fear and Trembling
To encounter the word of God is to encounter God Himself.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:12-13
For me, in my faith journey, there are times when reading the Bible is simply boring. Dry … dull … lifeless.
But there are other times when God shows up. In these “other times,” something happens within me, and to me. In between yawns, sips of coffee, and thoughtlessly reading the scripture, my soul begins to stir. It begins to wake up as I remember what’s been done on my behalf.
And then, the Book begins to speak. It begins an internal dialogue.
“Living and active” describes a movement of the text upon my soul. “Sharper” and “piercing” describes an unseen surgery on my heart by the Great Physician who loves me, and gave himself up for me, through Jesus’ death on the cross. When my soul is awake and I remember what’s been done for me, fear and trembling is not at all about being afraid of God. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18).
Fear and trembling is the realization of where I am—in the presence of God—and who I am, an adopted son of God. Remembering what’s been done for me creates shifts within that make me the “me” I want to be. Things like
As Isaiah 66:2 puts it, “But to this one I will look (that is, with favor and grace), to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Trembles? That doesn’t sound like fun. As John Frame puts it, “With such power, with such a God, we dare not trifle.” But this powerful, awesome God … gave himself up for me, to save me, not judge me.
So, fear and trembling is not a fear of punishment. It is having a heart of reverence and awe at the self-sacrificing God who became incarnate, walked this earth, died on the cross, and now chases my heart.
God still speaks—through the pages of scripture—and there we can encounter God Himself in the Word of God. This revealing of God, by God, to us, was also described by Jesus …
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21).
So, what would it be like for Jesus to disclose himself to you today? What might happen in your life, if you came to scripture with a heart that said, “Tell me what to believe and I will believe it. Tell me what to do, and I will do it.”
Fear and trembling is a heart attitude of reverence. And obedience is the opener of eyes.