walk in the word
“Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might . . . Like a shepherd He will tend His flock.” (Isaiah 40:10) Most of us get the idea, we just don’t have a clue about its magnitude. When we call something awesome these days, we mean “cool” or “wow” or “what an upgrade!” Awesome is our label for everything superlative. The lid on the cookie jar slams and I hear “Mom, these cookies are awesome.” Your co-worker praises you, “Awesome job on that project!” A neighbor kid brags, “Check out my stereo system—the sub-woofers are awesome!” Then we come to church and sing, “Our God is an awesome God,” and wonder why our worship falls flat. We’ve ruined another word. God is awesome indeed, but our flippant use of the term has made it as interesting as vanilla. At best, a cliché. When we do encounter the only One who is truly awesome—we are speechless. We have no words left that belong to Him and Him alone. But maybe speechless is the best way to approach God’s awesomeness. By far, I think this unique aspect of God’s character is His coolest. Everything that is God is awesome and everything that is awesome is God. At my house, you’re not allowed to use “awesome” for anyone or anything except God. It’s the rule . . . because it’s the truth. To call anything else awesome is a joke. The real kind of awesome sends shivers up your spine. At the risk of sounding simplistic, awesome means producing awe. Look it up; you won’t find any warm, soft synonyms for awe. They’re serious and threatening. Awe promotes fear and terror. Dread and fright. Awesome says, “watch out!” Hebrews 10:31 says it right, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” But the flip side is that when you are gripped by God’s greatness, His awesomeness runs like a river of joy through the very center of your being. You know beyond any doubt that you were created for Him for this moment. God’s awesomeness takes you to your knees in total reverence, to worship without self-consciousness, and to walk in glad surrender. The prophet Isaiah knew all about God’s awesomeness. He proclaimed it without apology to an apathetic and aggressively wicked audience. Within the limitations of language the Holy Spirit gave Isaiah the greatest description of God’s awesomeness ever penned; his words are God’s words about Himself and they are worthy of our careful study. Which God do you know? Isaiah begins his description of God with what sounds like a contradiction. Look at Isaiah 40:10-11: “Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him. Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” Most people know either the God of verse 10 ORthe God of verse 11. Which side of God’s nature are you most familiar with? But both are true. Both are powerful. First description: Isaiah says, “Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense [justice] before Him (Isaiah 40:10). Do you know the God who rolls up His sleeve, bears His powerful arm, slams it on the table and says, “C’mon people—get it together. Live right.” Have you experienced that strong arm of God? Good! But if that’s all you know, then be gripped by His other arm described in verse 11. Second description: Verse 11. “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs. He will carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” In other words, God is a shepherd, scooping up His lambs and carrying them close to Him. God provides special treatment for special needs. At certain times your shepherd says, “This one is hurting. Careful of his wound. We’re going to have to carry her for a while.” This tender arm of God reminds us of His unique and personal care for us. God has two arms . . . One arm is mighty and powerful, demanding holiness and righteousness. One arm tenderly cares for the weak and wounded. Almighty and tender . . . one awesome God.
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