God scares me

This may seem like a strange title for a post.

But it’s true. I said this to the GAP class last week as we were reading through Joel 2, because it contains a hair-raising description of the Day of the Lord. And now I’m reading through Joel 3.

Multitudes, multitudes,
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the Lord is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel.

– Joel 3:14-16 (ESV)

Now, when I say “scares”, I don’t mean that I love him less (in as far as I’m capable, wretch that I am, of loving him at all). Humanly speaking, fear is too often mixed with hatred. But not this fear. God possesses the ferocity of a mighty warrior, protecting his city, and he is the mightiest One of all. No one can stand before him. He scares me, but I’m so thankful to be standing behind him, under his protection.

I have often in the past explained away the word “fear” in the Bible as “awe”. “We’re not to be afraid of God,” I’d state, “rather, it is a reverential awe.” I think I was woefully mistaken. I honestly don’t know, but I’m beginning to think that maybe “fear” is the right translation after all! And it’s a good fear – it drives me to love him more, because it makes his grace that much more amazing.

Our God is mighty, and scary, and powerful, and he is very, very able to save us to the uttermost. Our Lord roars from Zion! And I’m just barely grasping all of this.

Praise him forever!

You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

– Psalm 22:23 (ESV)

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