Saturday, May 24, 2008

Awe: Towards an understanding.

Someone emailed me:
I have been thinking quite a bit about 'the fear of the Lord'. Do you think this 'fear' could be compared to or have some similarity to 'awe' or is that a cop-out?
My answer:

I would say fear would have to include awe, but it has to be more than awe. I am in awe before the beauty of a quiet lake, but I am in awe in front of a tornado with an entirely different effect on the heart. I think that people talk about God as though he is only the former, and never the latter.

What do you all think?

Is 'awe' (which is commonly said) a cop out for describing the 'Fear of the Lord'?

Pic by A Guy with A Camera.


psychodougie said...

yeah good call

i recently encouraged someone preaching on Deut4 not to wuss out on the warnings, that God is indeed a consuming fire.

the NT doesn't nullify God's fearsomeness, doesn't reinterpret it, but reaffirms it, warns us in many and various ways to take God at his word.

i guess the hard thing is to hold both his fearsomeness and his steadfast love together, but that doesn't mean re-reading fear as just awe

Edmo of the No-Blog said...

I don't see how it is possible to encounter God, the way that someone like Job did, and not experience butt clenching fear. Job knows he's crossed a line when he gives God some "what for" and when God responds - a voice from a raging whirlwind (like your tornadeo Jud) - the pucker factor had to be high, even for a man inclined to place his hope in God. Awe may include humility, but fear is the stark realisation of just what we are in contrast to God. Without Jesus, of course, fear would be all there is...but thank God we have grace and mercy (just like Job!!).

Anonymous said...

I've always thought someone who fears the Lord worships Him...does fearing the Lord involve worship, or is worship the direct consequence of true fear?

Chelsea Grainger said...

yeah I think you're right, I think it needs to include more than awe alone.

I have been thinking about this topic quite a lot too recently - and actually just started reading the book 'The joy of fearing the Lord' (Bridges) - so while Ive literally only read chapter 1 so will probably have a lot more to add to this discussion once the books finished, my interpretation of fear of the Lord has to understanding His holiness and our sinfulness, and therefore our place before Him, and the respect and obedience that comes with that... which obviously still relate to awe especially in terms of respecting someone etc, but fear steps in when we are confronted with the reality of who we are before him,or rather who we are in comparison to him even...
things like obedience and awe and worship etc i think are all consequences of this initial and essential realisation....

hmm more thoughts to come though no doubt...

Drew said...

Not necessarily.

Two people might use the same word, in the same circumstances, and one would intend it in a weak sense, the other in a strong sense.

And who would know the difference?

Scott said...

Rico Tice's comment on this:

Fear of the Lord is like fear of the sea.

You love it, but you never turn your back on it. Cause it is bigger and stronger than you and will take you in a moment.

Far of the Lord calls us to see him for what h is really like, not what we want him to be, and to treat him with the respect he deserves.

But I like yours too Jman.


Goldy said...

I like your picture, but I wonder whether or not it makes it sound like God changes somehow. Sometimes he is a lake, sometimes he is a tornado?
I think that the distinction between awe and fear is often a reflection of our awareness/acknowledgement of our own sinfulness.
Maybe Awe is being in the middle of a massive lake & realising it's awesome size next to you (both on the surface as well as those uncharted depths!), but fear is realising that your boat has too many holes for you to ever bail out...
I don't know what kind of image I would want to give Christ? a life preserver? some scuba gear (allowing us to explore the depths of God).
Anyway, that's my 2c

Stan said...

Aslan is not a tame lion.

Justin said...

Stan -- good call.