The Splendor of God’s Majesty is Terrifying
Sometimes we use words without really knowing what they mean. I’m certainly guilty of this. Christians sometimes throw words around without completely understanding what the words are communicating.
For instance, when you think of the words splendor or majesty, do you think happy or horrific thoughts? Do they make you think of peace or pain?
In the second chapter of Isaiah, there’s some rich teaching we can learn from.
Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made. So man is humbled, and each one is brought low—do not forgive them! Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty. (Isaiah 2:8-10, ESV)
Sometimes we forget that God’s holiness could kill us.
We often prefer to speak of God’s holiness, splendor, and majesty in a way that is lofty and light. Let’s be honest—who wants to be entertained by the fact that God’s majesty should make us want to hide in a cave?
This is simple evidence that we don’t really know God as well as we think…
God is unlike us. We are made in his image. But God is the fuller picture—He is the original, eternal substance. When around other people, our presence minutely shifts the atmosphere in the room. If God fully entered the room, we would die.
Here’s one quick example to back it up—”You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live!” (Exodus 33:20). God’s glory, majesty, and splendor must be veiled to us to some degree, or we would perish.
The beginning of Isaiah ministered to me earlier this week. Thinking about this helped me realize that God is more holy than I think. He is more righteous than I think. I haven’t fully grasped what God is capable of.
You won’t be able to NOT bow down to God.
Reading further in Isaiah chapter two, there’s more for us to chew on about God’s splendor and majesty.
In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:20-22, ESV)
What a sobering thought. There’s obviously so much to take away from such a rich chapter. What stands out to me is the imagery resulting from God’s splendor and majesty.
Before soaking in this text, I hadn’t related terror with these two words. But it really makes sense. God is that holy. He is that righteous. He is that terrifying.
And yet, God is gentle.
It wouldn’t be hermeneutically sound to assert that God is only terrifying. Yes, his holiness could kill us if it weren’t veiled. Yet, God is gentle, and humble, and soft too.
The Prophet Isaiah understood this. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
God is also a gentle shepherd. He is not only terrifying, but he is also gentle and gracious. Needless to say, if he wasn’t also gentle, we wouldn’t still be alive.
That is what’s so beautiful about God. He is deep. He isn’t shallow and easy to comprehend. He is complex. He is able to relate to anyone because he is not a simple person. There is so much vastness to his personality that he can reach anyone he has created. He is God!
There’s more for us to learn about God.
Getting a random wake-up call from Isaiah chapter two has reminded me that I don’t know God as well as I think.
What comes to mind when you think about the splendor of God’s majesty? Are they lofty, feathery thoughts? Or does it make you want to hide in a cave?
On that Day, when we see him in all his glory, I believe we will realize that we had no idea how holy, righteous, and awesome the Lord really is.
Though the splendor of his majesty is terrifying, it doesn’t mean he isn’t gracious and gentle enough to comfort us in our troubles too. Thanks be to God he is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
He is God and there’s more for us to learn about him today.