In the last post I talked about the demonic, oppressive dread that makes us a slave to our feelings. But I also mentioned that another kind of dread exists — a good dread, a holy dread. That might sound “dreadful” to you, but bear with me. It’s something amazing and healthy for our daily relationship with Him.
Job said, “…let not the dread of You make me afraid.” There was something distinctly good about this dread that Job was talking about that makes it different from fear. What is this good dread? It starts with understanding the immensity of who God is, and the power He holds in His hands. The universe can’t contain Him, because He made it and He’s beyond its scope. Time doesn’t limit Him because a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. He always was, is, and will be for eternity and can even heal wounds of the past and alter the course of our future with ease. The kingdom of darkness wages war against God’s Kingdom, but even hell itself has to bow before Him. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
This idea of teaching about a holy dread is not popular in most churches. We’d rather talk about God’s love, comfort, care, meekness and humility, about His generosity and forgiveness. Christians like to paint mental pictures of Him as a gentle passive being. Just look at the hundreds of lovely quotes about God on Facebook with soft wistful images of flowers or children running through fields. All of those aspects of God are true, but without balancing them with His dreadful and terrible power, we weaken the greatness of His goodness.
You may have seen pictures of soldiers in wartime armed with the deadliest weapons, caring for children and aiding vulnerable people. Those are powerful images of a more beautiful and intense generosity. When someone appears strong or invincible but chooses to show kindness just because he wants to, it takes on a deeper meaning. It moves us to gratitude, to appreciate the undeserved grace of those actions. That’s why we need to have this holy fear, this holy dread — to see how intense and deep His love is for us.
God doesn’t need to forgive us, but He does. He doesn’t need to show kindness, generosity, understanding, patience, mercy… He needs absolutely nothing from us because He is all, and everything exists because of Him. But He chooses to anyway, and if we had even a tiny grasp of how truly awesome that is, we would be on our faces in gratitude for our salvation every day. He has every right to cast us into hell, but He chose to make a way for us through the unfair death of His own Son. The God of the Universe took our place! Holy dread needs to fill our minds and hearts because what He has done is unthinkable.
So, the next time you want to complain about life and reduce God to the level of a weak friend who has disappointed you because He didn’t give you what you wanted the way you wanted it when you wanted it — remember who you’re speaking to. Dwell on His immensity, His dreadful and beautiful power. The greater you exalt Him in your mind and heart, the more you will feel His great love and kindness.
Then the earth shook and quaked; the foundations of the hills also moved; they reeled because His anger burned. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, and fire from His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it. He bent the heavens and came down, and darkness was under His feet. He rode on a cherub, and flew; He flew swiftly on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; His pavilion was surrounding Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness before Him His thick clouds passed by, hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High gave His voice, hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows and scattered them, and He shot out lightning and distressed them. Then the channels of waters appeared, and the foundations of the world were discovered at Your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. Psalm 18:7-15 MEV