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Our Awesome God!
The word awesome has been robbed of meaning today. We now use it so flippantly that anything can be awesome, from the latest movie that we saw at the theatre to the most recent version of the iphone. But the word originally meant something deeper.
Awesome is an adjective with the idea of 1) Inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear; causing or inducing awe, or 2) Showing or characterized by reverence, admiration, or fear; exhibiting or marked by awe.
This leads naturally to the definition of "awe." According to Webster's Dictionary: " It is an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime."
In this sense, God is the only person or thing of which we should truly be in awe. He alone is awesome. He is awe-inspiring.
I. God the Great "I Am"
It is William Shakespeare who wrote: "What's in a name?" Well in biblical times names meant a lot more. In some way they represented a person's character or something prominent about him or her. When God told Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land, this brought on a dialogue between the two of them in which God revealed a very important covenant name by which He became known. Here is the dialogue from Exodus 3:
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ "This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation." (3:11-15).
God is the Great "I Am." This is the name that the Lord gives to Himself, denoting His self-existence and eternality. All other creatures in this and any other universe are derived from the hand of God, and therefore had a beginning. God is the only self-existent person. He needs no other person from which He derives His existence. And He will always be this way. He was, and is and ever will be. He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. Before the first atom was formed, God was. His thoughts and words brought everything into being. And yet there was nothing before Him to bring Him into being. He just is.
II. God the Unique Person
God is one of a kind. We can never compare Him to anyone or anything, because there is no other person or thing like Him. That is why, when we talk about God being a Trinity, or one God eternally existing in three persons, there is no analogy that quite explains it.
We say that it isn't good for people to be jealous, and yet, because of His uniqueness, God is said to be a jealous God (Exodus 20:4,5). We must be careful here to understand that God is not jealous in the same way we are. Our jealousy is more like being envious of something that someone has that we want, or has qualities that we wish we had. God is not jealous in that sense. He doesn't have a need or a want for anything. He is completely self-sufficient. Rather these verses are used in the context of someone giving to something else what rightfully belongs to God. For, if the Lord is one of a kind, who else is worthy of our worship.
Exodus 20 is talking about God's people not having other gods or bowing down to them. The truth is, there is no god but the Lord. All others are idols. The only person who deserves our worship, indeed our awe, is the one and only God of the universe. In that sense God has a right to be jealous.
An example here might be a husband who sees another man flirting and making a pass at his wife. The other man is way out of line here, for there is only one husband and only he, the husband, has a right to flirt with his spouse. In God's case, it is His loved one flirting with something that isn't a real god.
So, we see that the uniqueness of our God leads us to be more awed by Him. A true awe and reverence for our one of a kind God will keep us loyal and not attempt to seek a "substitute". For, truly, anything other than Him is a cheap imitation.
III. God the Sustainer
Man is such a fragile creature. Yet many people have come and gone on this earth who thought that they were great and some claimed to be immortal. However, none of them would have a breath in their lungs, or a beat of their heart unless the Lord gave it to them.
In Colossians 1:16,17, Paul is speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, when he says:
16 "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
And the writer of Hebrews, in the first chapter, tells us of Christ:
3 "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power."
It is interesting to study the universe. It is indeed strange that it continues to exist. All of creation is made up of atoms which have both positive and negative charges. At the risk of oversimplification, these opposites should repel one another and should cause the atom to explode. However, scientists, for lack of a better term, have said that there is a sort of "atomic glue" that holds these atoms, and thus our universe together.
Well we know that Jesus is the ultimate sustainer of the universe. If it were possible for Him to remove His attention from this world in which we live and all of it's creatures for even a second, it would cease to exist. And when we talk about Him upholding the universe, we are also conveying the idea of movement and progress. Jesus, the Son directs all things so that they are moving toward the consummation of God's purposes. No matter what happens He is causing them to work together for good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
Now that we understand more the meaning of awesome, let us stop using it in a way that takes all meaning away from the word. We must give the term back to the One for whom it was intended. Our God is truly an awesome Lord, and He alone deserves our allegiance, love, reverence and worship.