Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Awesome, Dude!

I am getting tired of the word awesome.  It has become cliché. I hear and see it most often in advertising directed toward children and teenagers. Anything that gives a fleeting moment of pleasure is considered awesome. Adults are not exempted from this. Who do you think comes up with the marketing campaigns? Advertisers influence young consumers who influence older consumers for the cash to back the purchases. The lingo goes upstream.

I decided to take a look at my Bible for what is authentically awesome. Firstly, the concept of awesomeness does not mean thrilling, rather there is the idea of something fearful and demanding honor and reverence (see Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). That disqualifies 99% of modern usage. Secondly, I was pleased my presumptions were proven correct—awesome is what God is and does. Here is a short look at what I found just doing a word-search in my ESV of what things God's word says are awesome.

His might (Deuteronomy 7:21; Nehemiah 4:14)
His justice (Deuteronomy 10:17)
His appearance (Judges 13:6; job 37:22)
His covenant-keeping (Nehemiah 1:5; 9:32; Daniel 9:4)
His dominion (Psalm 68:35; 89:7)

God's Deeds
In covenant-keeping redemption from Egypt (Exodus 15:11; 34:10; 2 Samuel 7:23; Psalm 66:5; 106:22; Isaiah 64:3)
In righteousness (Psalm 65:5)
In power (Psalm 66:3; 145:6; Zephaniah 2:11)

God's Name
In righteousness (Deuteronomy 28:58)
In holiness (Psalm 99:3)
In covenant redemption (Psalm 111:9)

God's Presence (Genesis 28:17; Ezekiel 1:18, 22)

God's Judgment Day (Joel 2:11, 31; Malachi 4:5)

The reader will notice that these are all Old Testament references. I do not think that the word no longer suits the need but that there is no longer a need to continue its use. The point is made and does not need repeating in the New Testament.

What does flow throughout scripture is the proper reaction to all this—awe. As mentioned above this reaction has a certain foreboding about it. There is a reckoning of sorts. Repeatedly, the glory of the Lord has the same effect on the observer. Sinful man cannot bear the presence of God's awesome glory and can barely contain his work. If not for the reassuring and strengthening hand of the Lord, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John would never have stood in his presence much less be coherent. An understanding of that awe leads us to worship correctly (Acts 2:42-43; Hebrew 12:28-29).


As a sidebar item, I did find an interesting reference, that of a husband describing his wife (Song of Solomon 6:4, 10). I was pleasantly surprised by this, and after pondering for awhile, the picture seems fitting. Man and woman together as one flesh is the ultimate of God's creation work. Of course, the man as head should tell his wife this. Of course, she is awesome.

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