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).
Previously we have considered two of the three aspects of Isaiah's startling statement in this text: the meaning and manner of trembling at God's Word. We conclude with:
III. The Motivation for Trembling at God's Word
What is it that we see in God's Word that makes us tremble before it? What is it about Scripture that drives us to such awe and reverence? Here are four of the most important motives.
It Is There We See God and His Glory:
Many today say such flowery words as, "Oh, I love to be out in nature; I see God there." While there is a certain amount of truth in that (cf. Ps. 19:1; Rom. 1:20), most of those same people would never come under the reading and preaching of the Word of God. As a result, they are clueless as to who God is because it is only in His Word that He has to any great extent revealed Himself.
How high has God elevated His Word? The Psalmist answers: "Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name" (138:2). Jeremiah Burroughs writes: "Oh, the Word of God has more of God's name in it than all the world besides. Take heaven and earth, the whole creation altogether has not as much of the name of God as the Word of God has. There is more of God, there is a greater and more divine luster in the Word of God, than there is in heaven and earth."
Dear friend, just open God's Word, for it is there that you will find Him. You could gaze upon the most beautiful vistas on earth and even gasp at their beauty, but when you tremble at God's Word, you'll just shrug your shoulders at those other things and say, "Yes, those are nice, but it is God's Word that is truly majestic, for it is there that I see Him."
To consider a single example, it is in His Word that we see Him in His holiness: "Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy" (Ps. 99:3). "Holy and reverend is his name" (Ps. 111:9). "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory," the seraphim surrounding His throne perpetually cry (Isa. 6:3). Are we like Isaiah who was "undone," that is, silent and "beside ourselves"? That is what it is to tremble at His Word.
It Is There We Find Truth and Authority:
In our day, absolutes have vanished. Everything is relative and dependent upon each person's background, environment, or point of view. In striking contrast, Peter declares: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost"
(1 Pet. 1:19-21).
"More sure" translates bebaios, which means "fit to tread on, having a firm foundation, durable, unshakeable, sure, reliable, and certain." Further, used in a legal sense, it meant "valid and legal." One Greek authority writes, "Thus the hope and confidence of man is firmly secured as by an anchor, when the object of the trust is the Word of God, which He has legally confirmed with an oath (Heb. 6:16, 19)" (Colin Brown, NIDNTT [Zondervan, 1975], vol. 1, p. 658.) Another points out that this word "is not used of persons but objects (Heb. 6:19), that which does not fail or waver, immovable, and on which one may rely." (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament [AMG Publishers, 1992], p. 331.) So as long as we cling to the Word, we will be firm, unshakable, sure, and certain.
Likewise, Hebrews 4:12 declares: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Many today use the Bible as a "Leatherman MultiTool" that will fix all our problems. But Scripture is the double-edged warrior's sword, a bloody combat weapon designed to kill. It cuts right to the bone, right to the heart of every issue. It doesn't waste time negotiating with untruth; it hacks it to pieces!
My dear Christian friend, you will never be the same when Scripture takes over your life and you allow it full control. You will be altered forever, if you will but tremble before His Word and live by its discernment.
It Is There We Find Power:
Ecclesiastes 8:4 declares, "Where the word of a king is, there is power," and so our Lord says, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations" (Matt. 28:18-19). It is by those very words that we are assured of power in our living and witness. He has given us the power we will need to carry on the war (cf. Acts 1:8;
2 Tim. 1:7).
Isaiah 55:11 promises, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." God doesn't need our programs and gimmicks to generate "results." Rather God says in effect, "Just proclaim the truth and it will do exactly what I decree it to do."
Additionally, men have tried for millennia to destroy God's Word, but it always prevails. Our Lord Himself promised: "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:18). The "tittle" was a small projection on the top of an altar and referred to the small marks above Hebrew letters that could change the meaning of a word. None of it will change until God fulfills it.
It Is There We Find Justice:
God's Law is "a fiery law" (Deut. 33:2). When the Law was given in Exodus 19, the mountains shook and trembled. And even though he was a godly man, "so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake" (Heb. 12:21). Think of it! Even Moses trembled before God's Word! Likewise, as mentioned in part 1, Ezra and some of the people trembled at the sin of the nation and judgment to come.
Our Lord Himself also declares, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). Did you get it? The response of men to the Word of God will be the basis on which they are judged. At the very foundation of God's judgment will be whether or not we have obeyed His Word. As our Lord said earlier, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (5:24).
Dear Christian friend, if we really believe that we will be judged on how we have viewed, treated, and responded to God and His Word, we will, indeed, tremble before it.
Do you love God's Word? Do you tremble before it?
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)