Psalm 29: 3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
Here the psalmist ascribes to God the awesome power of a storm. One can imagine the cracking of thunder, streaks of lightning lighting up the night sky, the shaking of the ground striking fear into the hearts of people. Through much of scripture, the God of Abraham is fundamentally awesome and mighty – one to be fearfully respected and revered. Fear of the Lord is an appropriate, natural, logical response to such power. This kind of mindset dominated the people’s understanding of God for thousands of years.
And then came Jesus.
As many of you know, the disciples noticed a clear connection between Jesus’ deep prayer life and his role in ushering in the Kingdom of God. If they were to become like Jesus (which is the whole point of being a disciple) they would obviously need to learn to pray like Jesus. So, one day they asked Jesus to teach them to pray – which Jesus did. Jesus gave to them, and to us, what we now refer to as the “Lord’s Prayer”.
At the church I serve in suburban Dallas, we are in the midst of a sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. Yesterday we discussed the first petition of the prayer, “Our Father (“Abba” in Aramaic) in heaven, hallowed be your name”. It’s hard to overstate the profound paradigm shift Jesus ushered in as he suggested to his disciples they address God as “Abba”, which can be loosely translated into English as “Daddy”. It’s a term of endearment implying a kind of intimacy and affection that was previously unheard of when addressing the God of heaven and earth.
Is God the awesome, mighty Creator to be revered and respected? Absolutely. But God is also One who seeks close relationship with people. God seeks to know us and to be known by us. It’s a key reason why God became human in the person of Jesus – so he might take a form more accessible, more approachable to people. Jesus helps us to understand that God doesn’t want us on our faces in fear before him – so much as he wants us to take his hand and walk with him in this life and the next.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for us. Give us grace to reach out to you and take your hand extended in love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.