An Overwhelming Sense of Dismay

Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. —Exodus 3:6

In olden days men of faith were said to “walk in the fear of God” and to “serve the Lord with fear.” However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent runs through the whole Bible and gives color and tone to the character of the saints. This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a nonrational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty.

Wherever God appeared to men in Bible times the results were the same—an overwhelming sense of terror and dismay, a wrenching sensation of sinfulness and guilt. When God spoke, Abram stretched himself upon the ground to listen. When Moses saw the Lord in the burning bush, he hid his face in fear to look upon God. Isaiah’s vision of God wrung from him the cry, “Woe is me!” and the confession, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” [Isaiah 6:5].

Lord, when do I ever get that sense of sinfulness and guilt, fear and dismay in my encounters with You? Forgive me for my casual approach to You and renew in me a fear and wonder in Your presence. Amen.

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