". . . Thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity . . ." (Isaiah 57:15).
In this ungodly, secular age many people—even professing Christians—seem to have lost sight of the divine majesty of God. Many behave with unrecognized shallowness and irreverence, lacking respect for our Creator. It seems His name is uttered more often in profanity than in respect.
But what about those who have glimpsed the majesty of God? How have they reacted? Scripture shows that their response has nearly always been one of profound humility. When the prophets of the Old Testament scriptures and the apostles of the New Testament experienced God, to a man they saw themselves as utterly inadequate in comparison.
Close encounters with the divine
The patriarch Job, for example, became acutely aware of his own profound lack of understanding when God revealed to him some aspects of the magnificence of His creation (Job 38-41). Job's humble reaction was immediate: "Then Job answered the Lord and said: 'I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You...I have uttered what I did not understand...Listen, please, and let me speak...I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes'" (Job 42:1-6).
When Moses first met with God at the burning bush, he "hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God" (Exodus 3:6). In Joshua's encounter with the divine, he "fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, 'What does my Lord say to His servant?'" (Joshua 5:14).
In vision Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on His throne amid the angelic host (Isaiah 6:1-4). The prophet immediately reacted by lamenting, "Woe is me...because I am a man of unclean lips,...for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5).
When Ezekiel saw "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord," he, like Joshua and many others, fell down on his face (Ezekiel 1:28). Experiencing firsthand the revealed majesty of God's splendor instantly humbled these prophets and patriarchs of old. Theirs were dramatic, life-changing experiences.
The New Testament reveals the great God of the universe in the person of Jesus Christ. On the momentous occasions when Christ's disciples caught a glimpse of God's majestic powers as revealed through Jesus' miracles, their reactions reflected an awesome encounter with an unseen and powerful world far different from ours.
On one occasion Peter and the others had caught nothing after an entire night of fishing. Yet when Christ told them to drop their nets in a different spot, they suddenly caught so many fish that their nets began to break and their boats started to sink (Luke 5:4-7).
Peter was overwhelmed. "He fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!'" (Luke 5:8, New Revised Standard Version).
Later, Peter—along with James and John—briefly witnessed a preview of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. God afforded them the marvelous opportunity to see a vision of Christ transfigured in glory with Elijah and Moses. When they heard a voice from heaven, they reacted by falling on their faces. They were "greatly afraid" (Matthew 17:6).
Many years later, when the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, he reacted to his vision of the resurrected, glorified Christ by falling "at His feet as though dead" (Revelation 1:17, NRSV).
At one point in his ministry, the apostle Paul reported that in vision he "was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat" (2 Corinthians 12:4, NRSV). He, too, was filled with awe.
Understanding the natural human reaction to such circumstances, God often encouraged His servants to not be afraid. Each of these men glimpsed the glory of God and was awestruck by His grandeur.
Our thoughts of God
Do we perceive God as these men did? Do we realize with Solomon that we dwell on earth while God is in heaven (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2) and that we should pay proper respect to God, speaking His name with dignity, realizing that He knows exactly what we do and that He will ultimately hold us accountable? (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
Do we have the apostle Paul's attitude when he described the Lord to the young evangelist Timothy? "... He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power" (1 Timothy 6:15-16).
The awesome glory of God the Father and Jesus Christ far exceed anything we can even imagine. Realizing this should lead us to a profound sense of wonder and humility!