Tenderness and Trembling
Lord, I speak words of praise, adoration and thanksgiving to You today. I rejoice before You.
Read Exodus 19:1-25
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“He isn’t safe, but he is good” (C.S. Lewis, through one of his Narnia characters). How very true!
Seven weeks after God spectacularly broke their chains of bondage and brought them out of Egypt, the Israelites arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai. The desert air was thick with anticipation as God prepared to encounter his people and issue the words of the covenant he was making with them. It was a solemn occasion and a terrifying one. The people had to prepare themselves for the divine encounter by consecrating themselves, washing their clothes and abstaining from sexual relations (14,15). Such was the sacredness of their meeting with God. God’s presence was marked by frightening thunder, blinding lightning and palpitation-causing trumpet blasts. No wonder everyone trembled (16)! God’s weighty presence was felt by the mountain, too. Covered with a mysterious thick cloud, it trembled violently (18). We have lost much of our sense of God’s awesome presence in these secularized days.
Strangely and unexpectedly, amid that terrifying trembling, we hear the most tender words from God: “I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself” (4). He declared that Israel was his “treasured possession”–a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (5,6). These deeply personal and intimate words were whispered across the terrifying chasm between a holy God and his sinful and ignorant people.
Today, in our eagerness to speak about our intimacy with God, we forget that God is awesomely different from us. We sing songs that sound like popular love songs, and in that superficial sentimentality we forget that God is both stern and kind (Rom. 11:22). If we tremble in God’s presence and at the same time hear his tender words of love, then we have met the biblical God, the true and living God.
Ask the Lord to help you stand at the foot of the cross and tremble—and also hear tender words of forgiveness and love from the lips of Jesus.
Caring God, it is amazing to think of Your love for me and how special I am to You. May my life be worthy of such grace.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2024 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.