God Is… Awesome

This morning, we continue to dive into the depths of who God is.
God’s love is so vast that it is beyond measure.  It is so great, that it is the essence of who God is.  Living in these days of God’s abundant love, mercy, and grace that we freely receive through God’s salvation is incredible!  Cooperating with God by the empowerment of His Holy Spirit is an adventurous life as we see God’s kingdom established here on earth right before our eyes!
However, this sometimes gives us a lop-sided view of God.  We have a tendency to forget just how awesome our God truly is.  I’m not referring to the, “dude, that is awesome” kind of awesome, I’m referring to the kind of awesome where in the presence of God, we stand in absolute awe and fear and trembling.  Yes, our God is loving and compassionate and merciful.  However, these attributes can only be fully appreciated after we stand in the presence of God and understand just how holy, righteous, and pure He is and just how sinful, wretched, and tiny we are!  This morning, we’re being reminded of just how awesome God truly is.
Our God is the Creator whose Spirit hovered over the waters where there was nothingness; there was a formless, empty void and darkness was over the face of the deep (Genesis 1).  That’s right,
“our whole universe was NOT in a hot dense state, then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started.”  It didn’t all start with the big bang!
What happened was that over that nothingness, God spoke, and the entirety of our universe with all of its vastness and complexity was created.
Isaiah 40:21-22;25-26
21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth
    (yes, Isaiah said that the earth is round in the year 700 BC),
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Our God is awesome!  He is far greater than we could ever think or imagine; far beyond our comprehension!  The whole earth is full of His glory and splendor if we choose to see it!
We know the account of Noah when God opened the floodgates of heaven and all the earth flooded destroying all but the creatures of the sea and those in the ark (Genesis 7-9).  We know of how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sexual immorality by burning them with sulfur and how Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt for looking back (Genesis 19).  We know of how God opened the earth to consume and kill Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families for raising up against Moses and that the other leaders who were also against Moses, 250 of them, were destroyed by fire (Numbers 16).
We know of how God spoke to Moses through the burning bush (Exodus 3), the plagues of frogs, gnats, flies, all livestock dead, boils, hail, locusts, complete darkness for three days, the death of all firstborn sons which all only affected the Egyptians and not the Israelites (Exodus 8-11).  We know of how Moses parted the Red Sea and how God lead the Israelites by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13-14).  We know of the account where God gave Israel the ten commandments:
Exodus 20:18-21
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
We know of Balaam’s donkey speaking to him (Numbers 22).  We know of how the sun stood still for an entire day so that Joshua could defeat the Amorites (Joshua 10).  We know of how it did not rain for three and a half years by Elijah’s word and how God provided for him and his widow friend (1 Kings 17-18).
We know of how God spared Daniel from the fiery furnace and from the mouth of the lions (Daniel 3,6) and of the great end-time visions that Daniel received where he even saw Jesus (Daniel 7-12).  We know of Jonah and the great fish (Jonah).
However, we have a tendency to somehow disconnect the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament.  This just simply is not the case, however.  I have to admit that I’ve often struggled with reconciling how God dealt with mankind and sin in the Old Testament and how he dealt with mankind and sin in the New Testament.  The answer to how they become reconciled, however, is found in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus came and fulfilled the law and took on the punishment that we deserved.  However, that doesn’t change who God is by any means!  After all,
Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
In the New Testament, we find the account of Ananias and Sapphira who sold a piece of property, but kept back part of the money for themselves.  They lied to Peter and claimed that they were giving it all.  The Holy Spirit killed them both and the church became seized with fear as a result (Acts 5).
When Jesus came around 2,000 years ago, He came not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:17).  Through His earthly ministry, He sent demons fleeing as they continually reminded Him that their time had not yet come.  He healed every sickness and disease and forgave people their sins.  He calmed the seas and walked on water.  At the passover, Jesus made a whip and drove those selling animals for the sacrifice from the temple courts and flipped the tables of the money changers.  Zeal for what was His father’s consumed Him just as it should also consume us!  Even while helpless on the cross, the power of God was revealed through the death of Jesus as He overcame sin and death once and for all!
Matthew 27:50-54
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Jesus may have died and been exalted in the heavenly realms that at His name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord and has been given all power and authority, however, He plans to return!
We are reminded many times throughout scripture regarding the Day of the Lord.
Isaiah 2:12;17-19
12 The Lord Almighty has a day in store
for all the proud and lofty,
for all that is exalted
(and they will be humbled),
17 The arrogance of man will be brought low
and human pride humbled;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
18     and the idols will totally disappear.
19 People will flee to caves in the rocks
and to holes in the ground
from the fearful presence of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.
When entering the presence of God, Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1), and the apostle John (Revelation 4) all saw four living creatures.  They are human in appearance, but covered in eyes with six wings with four faces (human, lion, ox, eagle) with human hands and their bodies are bright like a fire and lightning.  Day and night they never stop crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, is, and is to come.  The whole earth is full of his glory.”  As they cry out, the throne room of Heaven is shaken and filled with smoke, 24 elders bow down to the throne of Jesus and cast their crowns before Him and they cry out, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
The apostle John saw Jesus enthroned in Heaven (Revelation 4) and described Him as having the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.  These four living creatures are circled around the throne of Jesus.
Circling this scene (Revelation 5), there are countless thousands and thousands of angels crying out in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”  Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, is seen by the apostle John right before the wrath and judgment of God on all who reject His salvation is unleashed.
John said, “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

Revelation 6-9 and 15-16 then detail out three waves of terrible, horrifying, and intense judgment (seal, trumpet, bowl) that come upon the earth in the end times.  Then, we see Jesus return to the earth in His second coming:
Revelation 19:11-21
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
Revelation 20:11-15
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Our God is an awesome God who never changes!  He is far beyond what we can ever think or imagine!  Jesus is the awesome savior, comforter, and healer of all who come to Him and give up their lives to and for Him.  However, to those who reject His salvation by either denying Him altogether or by praying to accept it, then continuing to live in sin with no desire for holiness or to overcome their temptation, Jesus is an awesome terrifying God of wrath and judgment.
How should this practically affect our lives in the here and now, though?  Knowing just how awesome God is, how should this change my life when I walk out these doors?
2 Peter 3:3-14
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Be at peace with God and embrace the fullness of His salvation.  Though temptation comes on strong, overcome it by the grace of God!  Live a holy, set apart life for Him and always be ready for His return so that you may hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” and not be cast into hell to be simply, “well done!”