Encountering the Overwhelming Presence of God


Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Lord, awesome God, who reveals with great power who You are and Your ways, I come to You in awe and humility today. If the might of storms and hurricanes show forth power, how much greater are You, the God who made those storms and hurricanes? “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and “clouds and thick darkness surround him” (97:2). Your power and majesty are overwhelming and unyielding. No wonder the Israelites trembled with fear after the Exodus while at Mount Sinai, begging Moses not to go up the mountain but to wait at a safe distance. You are not a God who by any means is safe. So “who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” (24:3). The question is not only who may but who would want to do something so bold? As it says elsewhere, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Yet here is an equally overpowering and awe-inspiring series of truths. “We have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God” (4:14). “Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant….he is able to save completely those who come to God through him” (7:22, 25). “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (9:14). “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:16). This seems almost as a different world from those overwhelming words of distance earlier. On our own we could perchance try to ascend Your hill, but the revelation of our own inabilities and insignificance would lead us to falter, even hinder us entirely. Who can ascend? The One who is blameless, even Jesus the Messiah, who then makes a way for us to draw near to Your throne? of grace, finding there not fear-filled judgment but even awesome and undeserved mercy and grace in the presence of You, the holy God.

Thank You, Lord, for this greatest of gifts and the wonderful opportunity to know You and the responsibility to serve You upon earth. May we live in response to Your grace today!

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