Trembling at God's Word - Part 2 of 3

by J. D. Watson

"Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:1-2).

In Part 1, we meditated on the first of three aspects of the great statement before us: the meaning of trembling at God's Word. We continue with the second aspect:

II. The Manner of Trembling at God's Word

What frame of mind (or heart) is involved in trembling at God's Word? Please prayerfully ponder three attitudes.

Reverence for God's Word:

We are to approach the Bible like no other literature. While we might be amazed by a novelist's vivid description of a scene or character, or be stunned by a clever twist in the mystery writer's story, such things fade to nothing in comparison to our reverence for Scripture. We come before it quietly, in abject silence, because we are in truth entering the Throne Room of God, hearing the very words of the Sovereign God of the Universe.

At the risk of offending some readers (and that is most certainly not my intention), I can think of very few things in our day more disgusting, more blasphemous than the blight of so-called "Christian comedians" in the church today. We should be ashamed of ourselves for tolerating such irreverence. These so-called teachers twist Bible stories, verses, and even principles to make people laugh so they supposedly will better accept the Bible.

"If you keep them laughing," it is insisted, "you can better get your point across." What worldly nonsense, and I say again, what utter blasphemy! Nothing can excuse that kind of irreverence for the holy things of God, no matter what arguments are used to justify it. We are not dealing with things that are funny! We are handling the serious, holy things of God. Mark it down: the only way people will understand Scripture is by humbly and reverently coming before it, not guffawing in laughter at the comedian or the pastor who doubles as entertainer.

Desire to Hear It Read and Preached:

No better example exists than Nehemiah 8, when after the completion of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem upon the return of some of the Israelites from a 70-year judgment in Babylon, "All the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel" (v. 1).

The people then stood for six hours while the Law was read and explained (v. 3). Since they now spoke Aramaic instead of Hebrew, the Law had to be explained, that is, "exposited" to them, providing us an unmistakable picture of expository preaching. A pulpit was even constructed for that purpose (v. 4).

Oh, but not today! We have to have pageants and stage plays, music concerts, motivational talks, and ten-minute devotionals that appeal to people's feelings and stroke their sensitivities. Such people (both preacher and pew-sitter) do not tremble at God's Word.

I heard one preacher say it very well; when someone said to him, "Your sermons are getting a little too long," he lovingly responded: "It all just depends upon how big a cup you bring to church." As Paul declared, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). Indeed, the people today who are satisfied with all the junk that's going in churches are not looking into God's face and most certainly are not trembling at His Word

Submission to God's Word:

To tremble before truth means to submit to its every command. We do not resist, argue against, or bring frivolous questions and objections before it. To tremble before God's Word means that we are submitted to whatever it declares before we even hear the declaration. When we do that, we will never get "hung up" on any issue or get upset when a preacher tells us how we should live, based upon Scripture. Once we settle the issue of submission to God's Word no matter what, we will accept whatever it says. The real problem in all of us, and the real problem in every single issue that arises, is always biblical authority. We must settle that issue before we can even address any other.

In his book, The Holy Spirit, theologian John Walvoord writes: "The yielded Christian has an unusual relationship to the Word of God. As its revelation becomes known and its application becomes evident, the issue of being yielded to the truth as made known by the Holy Spirit becomes very real. (The Holy Spirit [Zondervan, 1954, 58, 79], p. 198.).

How true! The yielded Christian does, indeed, have "an unusual relationship to the Word of God." Yes! He trembles before it! That is so unusual, in fact, that he will seem very odd in today's world, even among some Christians. To tremble at God's Word is to be filled with His Word (Col. 3:16) and filled with His Spirit (Eph. 5:18)-both of which are synonymous, in fact. It is to submit to Him no matter what other people might think.

We will conclude our thoughts in Part 3 by considering the motivation for trembling at God's Word.

J. D. Watson is pastor-teacher of Grace Bible Church in Meeker, Colorado and author of
A Word for the Day: Key Words from the New Testament (AMG Publishers)

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