Journal Rev 1 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (John speaking) “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and, in the midst of the lampstands one like a Son of Man, clothed with a long white robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead, but he laid his right hand on me saying, ‘Fear not. I am the First and the Last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore…’” Rev 1:12-18a
Observation: Thirty-six or so months of hanging out with Jesus and a number of decades later, all John can do is fall down in fear.
Yep, I could have seen that one coming.
Application: Really, I am not as flippant about this as it reads. Seeing God is a serious thing, much more serious than contemporary Christianity portrays.
Thinking about this section of Revelation, I am reminded of three other instances in Scripture:
- The temporary transfiguration of Jesus (Matt 17:1-7; esp. Mark 9:6 [Peter babbling] “…for he did not know what to say, for they were terrified…”)
- Paul and the Damascus incident (Acts 9:1-9)
- Moses and the burning bush (Ex 3:6b)
In each one of these, the Trinitarian God appeared, and the respondents reacted in fear. Real fear, not the deflected definition of fear that some folks want to forward—“The word ‘fear’ is properly translated as ‘deep respect’—We shouldn’t ‘be afraid of God’; God is Love, you know…” I think about this. When Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid”, he is not saying, “Don’t respect me.” Being afraid is about fear…
Tell that to all the folks to whom the Trinitarian God appeared to or the bunch of angels sent, like the shepherds in the night—there is hardly a place in the Scriptures where heavenly beings appeared and “fear” wasn’t the next description of the humans being appeared to.
“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” (Luke 2:9)
There is a place for familiarity with Jesus. I appreciate that he is not only my Lord and God, but he is my advocate before the Holy Judge (Himself! That is a mind twister…”And [the Father] has given [the Son] authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man…” (John 5:27)) and is my Friend.
But there is also a place for worship and fear, and perhaps I don’t remember that well enough; my heart does not burst, tears do not flow, I am not stricken to my knees and fall on my face. I do not sing in worship as if it is my last breath, I do not squeeze my eyes shut so that I would not gaze on his Glory in arrogance and pride, etc. etc.
Solomon had it going on:
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Prov 1:7
- Because they hated knowledge and did not CHOOSE the fear of the Lord…Prov 1:29
- …then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God…Prov 2:5
- Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil…Prov 3:7
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight…Prov 9:10
- The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life…Prov 14:27
This makes me think of the Jewel figure of the Gospel…lots of stuff equal in brilliance and intensity…and yet I can only think of them one at a time.
Prayer: Father, please keep me in wonder about You and yet focused at the same time.
Build me, mold me, into the shape of the vessel you want me to be.
Ricky Two Shoes