The same story is in the news on a regular basis in Montana. The only difference is the characters, the activity, and the time of year. The story goes something like this. Someone goes into the mountains hunting, fishing, hiking, or skiing and disappears. Sometimes they are found alive, but much of the time they are not. Some are never found again. Of the ones that are found, the response is often the same. “I didn’t realize the mountains could be so dangerous and things could go wrong so quickly. I just wasn’t prepared for what happened.” The majority of the time, the problem is completely underestimating the mountains and the wilderness and going into them unprepared, as if one was going for a walk in the city park. The result can be tragic.
Unfortunately, this is often what we do with God. We severely underestimate who He is and do not view Him as the Bible calls us to view Him. The result can be tragic. When we lose sight of who God is, we begin worshipping a god who is formed in our own minds. Typically, we underestimate several things about God.
First we underestimate that He is a holy God. In Isaiah 6, we read that majestic creatures surround the throne of God, crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts”. When Isaiah has this vision of God, he cries out “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips”. When Isaiah sees how holy God really is, he is utterly terrified for he sees how unholy he is compared to God. Hence he says “I am undone!” The more we lose sight of the holiness of God, the more self-righteous and comfortable with sin we become.
Second, we underestimate that God is a majestic, mighty, all-powerful God who reigns in glory. We read in Psalm 97, “His lightnings light the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” This is no mild mannered God who casually watches humanity while sipping on a sweet iced tea! He is glorious and mighty! Perhaps one of the reasons we do not have much awe and zeal for God is because we do not see Him as the glorious, eternal King who reigns on high!
Third, we underestimate the judgement of God that flows from His perfect justice. David writes in Psalm 7, “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.”. It is an absolute tragedy how averse we are to the justice of God. It is in the justice of God that we find hope in the midst of evil. The reason? God is a God who will perfectly deal with evil and bring justice to the oppressed. There will be a day in which God’s justice will be fully executed and evil will be no more.
Let’s not underestimate who God is! To underestimate God can lead to great tragedy. But, as we more clearly understand who He is, we more clearly see the beauty and wonder of the Gospel! This holy, all-powerful, just God reaches down to sinners and rescues them for the purpose of restoring them to Himself so they can worship Him, rejoice in Him, and serve Him for all of eternity. Redeemed sinners can live in peace and joy because of how great God truly is. What a glorious God we serve!