In my experience studying it, the Bible is at times the most complex book in the world and at times the most simple. One of the things that makes it so rewarding and enduring is the fact that it can be a mystery. I’ve read passages before and been totally lost only to have them make sense a few months later. I’ve been mystified by the purpose of certain scriptures only for them to become essential parts of my life years later. I love the mysterious aspects of God, the fact that He’s so vast and huge that you can devote yourself to study and seeking Him and still keep uncovering new things year after year.
But sometimes I think we can almost get lost in this adventurous pursuit of the mysteries of God. I know that’s happened at times to me, where I get to a place where I need to step back and focus on the foundational truths of the Bible and of God. To remind myself that beyond the mysteries that I’m still working to understand, there are clear and absolute facts and truths we should always keep sealed in our hearts and minds.
I know that’s a long intro, but I just wanted you to know where my head was at for the scripture in Jeremiah I’m going to talk about today. The Lord is speaking here in chapter 5, as He’s been doing through most of this book, telling Jeremiah all the things to say to the wayward people of God. And something really hit me. God’s talking directly here. There’s no need to study three different commentaries, to pray for understanding with our pastor, or to buy some ten part DVD study guide so we can discover God’s purpose in these passages. He’s talking direct here. No mystery, direct quotes from God.
And as God speaks, my heart was just kind of overwhelmed by something He said. Look at this.
Jeremiah 5:22 Do you not fear me? declares the Lord.
Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea,
a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail;
though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
God’s trying to make a point to His people, trying to remind them of who He is and what He’s done. Of the trillion things God could’ve said to illustrate His point, I’m just so overwhelmed with what He chose to say. In trying to remind people of His power and goodness, God, the creator of the universe, chose to get poetic.
Think of God’s power, of all these shows of strength He’d already done at this point in human history. I think about every possible answer He could’ve given to this question that He asked. “Do you not tremble before me?” I unleashed plagues upon Egypt until my people were set free. I flooded the whole of the world. I consumed with fire those who came against my prophet Elijah. I split an entire sea and let me people walk across, then drowned those who followed.
The possible answers to “Do you not tremble before me” are so numerous. Yet God didn’t highlight any particular deed He’d done here. Instead, He waxes poetic and puts on display something about Him that I think we too often forget about. He puts on display a heart of beauty and a spirit of gentleness. He gets creative, and He focuses on something that displays His love and protection instead of his earth-shaking powers. He doesn’t say “tremble before me BECAUSE I CAN DESTROY YOU.”
Read that verse again, and just think about what it says about the heart of God. That’s the answer to the question “why should people tremble before you?” It’s a beautiful answer. In my next installment, I’m going to share what I believe this verse means, and what God’s trying to illustrate in this verse. I hope you guys will join me as this seemingly endless study of the book of Jeremiah continues!
Father God, I just want to thank you for what you said here in this verse. There are many times in the Old Testament when you put your power on display, so many things you could’ve recalled to illustrate why you’re to be feared. It humbles me, and really just draws me closer to you that instead of picking some fearsome deed, you gave this beautiful answer. To know that your heart contains such beauty, and that it uses a beautiful illustration when some fearsome mighty one almost would’ve made more sense, that tells me so much about who you are. It tells me so much about how I can trust in your goodness. Thank you for those reminders, and thank you for the way you reveal yourself to us in your word. Thank you for loving me and for always standing with me. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.