Our Untamed God

The power of encountering the Lord

Our Untamed God.html

We stood on the deck while other tourists boarded. The Maid of the Mist, a massive ferry that travels in circles at Niagara Falls, was the largest I had ever ridden. We were visiting family in upstate New York, and my dad wanted to introduce us to one of his favorite places. At the observation tower an hour earlier, I’d stood in complete awe of Niagara’s beauty and majesty. But then my father said we’d be going out onto the river, to the bottom of the falls. With a sinking feeling in my 8-year-old stomach, I earnestly hoped the boat would float.

Though the falls were still at a distance, I could feel the pounding of the water under the ferry’s hull. I wanted to protest, and I could see the same panicked look in my little sister’s eyes. Terrified, we clung to the rail, and I prayed I wouldn’t throw up.

 

I hadn’t thought about that moment in years, but it came to mind recently as I read Revelation 1, where Jesus gives John visions to write down. In Revelation 1:15, the apostle describes the Lord’s voice as being “like the sound of many waters.” He repeats the phrase again in Revelation 14:2, which echoes an experience the prophet Ezekiel had of the Lord, whose “voice was like the sound of many waters” (Ezekiel 43:2).

The ancient Hebrews had a word for the formless deep at the moment of creation: Tehom. Speaking of this vast depth, Genesis 1:2 says that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Though a different entity, the ocean of their time represented a similar powerful unknown. For Ezekiel and John to have experienced God in this manner reveals the intensity of the moment—it wasn’t the trickle of a babbling brook but a thunderous pounding of waves. If we read between the lines, we see that these men would have felt a greater reverence and fear of the Lord than they felt about the deep.

For me, any time a prophet of the Bible has a vision of God, I experience a disconnect. Those moments seem so wild, so untamed, that even the computer-generated images of modern films can’t do them justice. I wonder what it must have felt like to stand in the presence of the Almighty, to see and hear things as described in the Word.

I wonder what it must have felt like to stand in the presence of the Almighty, to see and hear things as described in the Word.

In a sermon titled “The Power of God,” Dr. Stanley says, “When you recognize who God is and what He’s like, you’re going to be, in some way, in some expression … praising the Lord [every day of your life].”

I have to think that as Ezekiel and John experienced God in this way, they became unmoored. One had known Him from the stories passed down since the parting of the Red Sea; the other saw his intimate friend and Savior in a new and intense light. Both experiences led to a profound and unprecedented level of devotion.

Though terrified while approaching the base of Niagara Falls, I admit that once I understood the captain would keep us safe, I felt free to enjoy the moment. As the wall of sound rattled my little chest and mist sprayed over us all, terror turned into wonder. Though undoubtedly far less than what Ezekiel or John heard, I think in my own way I’ve carried this experience as a signpost for what it will be like one day to be fully in the presence of the Lord.

 

Illustration by Adam Cruft

Related Topics:  Sovereignty

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2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

2 and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.

2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood--

6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

8 I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

11 saying, Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;

13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.

14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.

15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

19 Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.

20 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

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