“And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard and sat down astonished. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the transgression of those that had been carried away. And I sat astonished unto the evening sacrifice.”
When we realize what we hold in our hand and Who gave it, we cannot help but do the same.
God’s Holy Word.
What’s that Book you hold in your hand, Pilgrim—the one that says “Holy Bible” or something similar on the outside? Do not spend much time focusing on which version it is—i.e., KJV, RSV, NIV, ASV, Good News, etc.; focus instead upon the fact that the words within were “inspired (Grk. ‘theopneustos’—‘Divinely in-breathed, to breathe hard, a breeze, etc.’) by God and are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17).
Likewise, do not entertain devilish doubts on the authenticity or accuracy of the manuscripts or the number of times the Book has been translated down through the years; instead, focus on the Truth that the same One Who inspired it is sufficiently able to ensure its preservation.
Simply put, rest in God’s Faithfulness (“Who He is and What He has Promised”).
Then, “be still and know that He is God” (Ps. 46:10).
And, you, too, will begin to “tremble at the words of the God of Israel.”
This is not, as some have accused, “Bibliolatry”—an idolizing or worship of the Word—for we do not worship the Book. But, by faith, we worship the “Word made flesh” (Jn. 1:14), Who led men of old to commit His Message to print by faithfully (and painstakingly) recording what the Spirit said.
Such reverent awe of the Author will also lead to heart-wrenching anguish of soul as we realize the sinfulness of self and depraved condition of those around us. Isaiah knew this feeling (Is. 6:5). Jeremiah knew this holy horror (10:19). Habakkuk shuddered (3:16). Josiah knew this “terror-trembling” after Hilkiah found the Book of the Law in the Temple rubbish and heard how far they were from God (II Chron. 34:14-19). And, Ezra certainly knew it when he realized how far his countrymen had strayed after returning to Jerusalem.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem some 82 years after the first group, Ezra discovered there were “none of the sons of Levi” present (8:15). They’d chosen to stay in captivity! But, thankfully, some returned when he sent word back for them to come (v.18a) and they “proclaimed a fast that they might afflict themselves before God to seek of Him the right way” (v.21).
Oh, dear Pilgrim, when we really get to know God, we, too, will “tremble at His Word”—partly because of His Greatness and partly because of our sinfulness (Is. 6:1-5; Ezra 9:5-15). Thankfully, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid even as the holy seraphim did to Isaiah (6:6-7) and strengthen us for the work that must be done. The task will be great. . .the time will be long (Ezra 9:13). . .and the trembling will be continual. But, stay the course. God is faithful.