Deuteronomy 5:1-31; Luke 7:11-23; Psalms 68:32-35; Proverbs 17:16
OT: “The Lord spoke these commands in a loud voice to your entire assembly from the fire, cloud, and total darkness on the mountain; he added nothing more. He wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. All of you approached me with your tribal leaders and elders when you heard the voice from the darkness and while the mountain was blazing with fire. You said, ‘Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that God speaks with a person, yet he still lives… Go near and listen to everything the Lord our God says. Then you can tell us everything the Lord our God tells you; we will listen and obey.’ “The Lord heard your words when you spoke to me. He said to me, ‘I have heard the words that these people have spoken to you. Everything they have said is right. If only they had such a heart to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that they and their children would prosper forever. Go and tell them: Return to your tents. But you stand here with me, and I will tell you every command — the statutes and ordinances — you are to teach them, so that they may follow them in the land I am giving them to possess.’” (Deuteronomy 5:22-24, 27-31 CSB)
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines awe as an emotion variously combining dread, veneration (respect), and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime. After Moses re-told the Ten Commandments to this new generation of Israelites, He reminded them of how their parents before them had stood in complete awe of the Lord at the first giving of the commandments. They were in such awe, that they even feared for their lives, begging Moses to be their mediator and relay the words of God to them for fear that they would be incinerated in His glory. Yet, how quickly their awe grew into indifference and disrespect. God’s words to Moses were, “If only they could maintain that awe of Me forever – then they would obey my commandments.” Emotions are so very fickle – and awe is an emotion. Yet God’s awesomeness doesn’t wane. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. How many times to we as believers have a “mountain top experience” in a Sunday morning worship service, only to completely forget everything and revert back to normal as soon as we sit down in our cars and head out to lunch. That is one of the reasons why praise and thanksgiving is so powerful – the discipline of offering praise and being thankful reminds us of Who our God is and what He has done. That is also why it is so important to be continually filled with The Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit reminds us as well. How do we maintain a healthy and proper awe of Our God? We maintain by remaining in Him and allowing His words to remain in us, by keeping our eyes ever on our Lord and King, and having truthful words of praise in our hearts and on our lips.
NT: “Then John’s disciples told him about all these things. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” …At that time Jesus healed many people of diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits, and he granted sight to many blind people. He replied to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”” (Luke 7:18-19, 21-23 CSB)
Right before this interaction with John the Baptist and his disciples, Jesus had brought a dead man back to life, which caused all the people in the town of Nain to be in awe of Jesus. That is what John’s disciples were reporting back to him. But for some reason, John wasn’t fully convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus wasn’t doing all the things He expected Jesus to do. He expected Jesus to bring the justice and vengeance of God… to defeat Israel’s oppressors once and for all and make all things right. Obviously, Jesus had the power and authority – for an entire town was in awe of him… But Jesus wasn’t bringing the hammer down. Jesus’ response to John harkened back to the passage from Isaiah that He read in the synagogue in Nazareth. He was the anointed one, anointed to bring sight to the blind, to heal, to restore, to bring liberty to the captives and to proclaim the year of the Lord. The day of vengeance would come one day – but now was the time for liberty – and Jesus was doing exactly what He was anointed to do – and what He was anointed to do was truly awesome.
Psalms: “Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; sing praise to the Lord, Selah to him who rides in the ancient, highest heavens. Look, he thunders with his powerful voice! Ascribe power to God. His majesty is over Israel; his power is among the clouds. God, you are awe-inspiring in your sanctuaries. The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!” (Psalms 68:32-35 CSB)
This is a good example of praise that develops a healthy and proper sense of awe. It ascribes to God the power and glory that he deserves – and in properly ascribing the level of power, authority, glory, faithfulness, etc. that God has… at least in our limited understanding… it creates in us a sense of awe. It generates healthy dread, respect, and wonder that helps us walk in faith and obedience.