The Trembling Earth

“The Red Sea waters saw them coming and ran the other way!
Then later, the Jordan River too 
moved aside so that they could all pass through.
The land shuddered with fear. 
Mountains and hills shook with dread. 
O sea, what happened to you to make you flee? 
O Jordan, what was it that made you turn and run? 
O mountains, what frightened you so? 
And you hills, what made you shiver? 
Tremble, O earth, for you are in the presence of the Lord, 
the presence of the God of Jacob.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭114:3-7‬ ‭TPT‬‬

We read the historical and prophetic accounts contained within what we Christians call the Old Testament, and wonder about the nature of the events described. Are they accounts seasoned with traditional, word of mouth legends handed down from one generation to the next, or did the described events actually happen? Did the Red Sea really part? Did the Jordan River really stop flowing? And there are other events that took place in the Bible that seem against natural laws. Did the rock really release rivers of water when Moses struck it with his staff? Did the Jericho walls really collapse when the Israelites gave a shout and blew their trumpets? Did the ground really collapse and swallow up the family of Korah in the Numbers 16 account? Over the years I have heard two categories of response to these questions – one is the secular and liberal theology approach, that these Bible stories are just that, stories. Fictional accounts, or at least myths that some people try and explain away or discount by applying modern thought and archaeological research. But the other response is one of a fundamental belief in the infallibility of Scripture. A belief that these events really happened, just as they had been written. Sometimes people adopt a hybrid approach to these two extremes, accepting some accounts and not others. Others protest with the thought, “What does is all matter anyway?” 

This Psalm contains a fundamental, irrefutable theme – that God is the Creator of the Earth and everything within it. That He is able to make things happen in His creation because He is God. He is the all-powerful, ever present Almighty. And the palpable sense of awe in God’s presence manifests itself in the Psalmist’s graphic language of how the earth was responding, our world that we take to be fixed and immovable, but in his account frightened and shivering when God was there. 

As pilgrims in this life, we can trudge along, bounded by what we think are “natural laws”, or we can develop a sense of excitement that we are in the presence of Almighty God, our Creator who is able to do anything because he is all-powerful. Adopting an expectant feeling that whatever is facing us in our journey, God is there to help us, able to move the mountains in our paths. Without God’s intervention, the Israelites would have been recaptured or destroyed by the well-equipped Egyptian army when they encountered the Red Sea. Without God’s intervention, they would have been unable to pass over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. However, such miraculous events were not just for the Old Testament; Jesus Himself taught about the power we have over the natural world in Matthew 17:20, “I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! There is nothing you couldn’t do!” Jesus walked on water. He stilled the storms. He healed the sick and raised the dead, and, amazingly, He said in John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Now that’s challenging. 

So what do make of all this? Are we feeling a sense of excitement building within us at what we can do though and with our amazing Heavenly Father? Or are we going to continue to tramp through a monochrome world, bounded and limited by our puny and inadequate natural abilities? We may not have the faith to make one of our local hills disappear, but what about stretching our faith to pray for the sick old lady next door, believing for her healing? Or believe God for …. (fill in your own faith need)? Tasha Cobbs sings a song, “This is a Move”. Let’s sing it together today – it’s on YouTube if you don’t know it. Here are the first two verses.

Mountains are still being moved
Strongholds are still being loosed
God, we believe
‘Cause yes, we can see it
That wonders are still what you do

And bodies are still being raised
Giants are still being slayed
God, we believe
Yes, we can see it
That wonders are still what you do

Come and See

“Come and see what God has done, 
His awesome deeds for mankind! 
He turned the sea into dry land, 
they passed through the waters on foot – 
come, let us rejoice in Him. 
Come and hear, all you who fear God; 
let me tell you what He has done for me.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭66:5-6, 16‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

“Come and see”. “Come and hear”. God invites us to use our eyes and ears to check out all the wonderful things He has done for us. Traditional Jewish families to this day remember the Biblical events such as crossing the Red Sea, an event mentioned in the verses today. But what about God’s ability to wow us with His abilities in 21st Century Scotland? Or in the societies within which we live? Personally, God never ceases to amaze me as I wander around the woodland paths close to where I live. His creation shouts out His wonderful acts to me and those around me – if we look for it. The plant life in its abundance. The trees growing straight and strong. The birds, filling the air with their music. The deer crossing my path just a few yards ahead. The rodents grubbing around near the forest streams. Even occasionally a fox or two, slinking away into the undergrowth. Further afield, I continue to be amazed by beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The news reports of wonderful creatures not found before. The physicists making discoveries about nuclear particles. The medical scientists researching and finding ways to treat disease. The list is endless. Our natural world is a wonderful testimony to God’s “awesome deeds for mankind”. Sadly, the evolutionists will say this all happened by chance, missing out on the opportunity to be able to rejoice in our wonderful God, missing out on the opportunity to thank our Creator for His awesome deeds. 

But it doesn’t stop there. God also does wonderful things in the realms of the supernatural. Through the power of His Spirit as He permeates the world and people within it. I look back in my life and remember occasions where things could have gone horribly wrong, but they didn’t because God did something awesome. Coincidence or chance the sceptic might say. But to me there have been too many occasions where God has moved in response to prayers, bringing outcomes that fall into the category of “His awesome deeds”. I would go as far as to call some of them “miracles”. And in particular the situation of my own daughter’s healing from encephalitis, a virus attacking her brain with such severity that the medics were convinced that her lengthy time in hospital would not end well. But after her total recovery, one of the doctors wrote on her notes, “This is a miracle”. And as a family we thank God continually for His miraculous intervention, taking every opportunity to tell what He has done for us.

In verse 16 of today’s Psalm, the Psalmist invites those people around him to listen to what God has done for him. Those of us who are Christians have a story to tell. A story of the journey in which God found us and we responded to His grace and love. A story that may not contain the earth shattering events such as the crossing of the Red Sea, but it will contain those personal details of the wonder of what our loving Heavenly Father has done in our lives. I could tell you of drug addicts whose lives have been transformed by the power of God working in their lives. I could tell you of miracles of healings that have brought people back from the very gates of Heaven. But perhaps the biggest miracle is the one in which we have been transformed from a dismal life in the kingdom of darkness into citizenship of the Kingdom of Light. Financially it cost me nothing, but it cost Jesus everything, even His very life on that cross at Calvary. And by so doing we are assured a future with the very Person who does “awesome deeds for mankind”. So I invite you today – “Come and see” and “Come and hear”. “Let me tell” – that’s what I will be doing and saying, grabbing every opportunity to invite those around me to join me in this wonderful life, life with our loving and gracious Heavenly Creator God.