What scares you when you read the Bible?

The great tremor

Then later, after many years of serving this god from the burning bush, Moses wants to know. "Let me see your glory!" He demands. That's not possible, answers God. "No one will live who sees me." But Moses is allowed to see something from God. God puts him in a cleft in the rock and holds his hand over him protectively while God's glory passes outside the rock. God en passant. Moses is allowed to look after him.

These twofold and threefold precautionary measures, with which God saved Moses from the force of his greatness, give an idea of ​​how enormous it is when God comes close to people. So close that he becomes human himself. When Jesus calms the storm and silences the troubled sea, his disciples are frightened. A moment ago they were scared to death and feared that their boat would go down in a storm. Now the lake is still. But Jesus has become scary to them. "Who is he that wind and sea should obey him?" They fearfully ask (Mark 4:41). Taming the forces of nature, only God can do that.

There are places in the Bible where the power of God is so powerful that people experience God as their enemy. They fear the gaze of God will destroy them. "Hide your face from my sins," implores God whoever prays Psalm 51. At the same time it is the gaze of God that revives. "Look so that I do not fall asleep to death" (Psalm 13: 4). The ultimate fear is the fear of death. It is the greatest because nobody knows what to fear. Because death is the great unknown. It is the nothing that threatens to destroy all being.

In the Bible, greater than fear of death is reverence for God, who creates life out of nothing. This belief is at the beginning of the Old and at the end of the New Testament. The amazement at God's creation can be felt in Psalm 104: »My God, you are very great. Light is your dress. You spread the sky like a tent. You founded the earth. How big and many are your works! You have arranged them all wisely, and the earth is full of your goods. «This astonishment and awe is known to anyone who looks at the night sky, is frightened at the blackness of the universe and at the same time cannot take his eyes off the luminous dots of the stars.

"I was so overwhelmed by happiness that I couldn't speak a word," says a young father of the birth of his first child. "On the other hand, I had to recover from the birth first," says his wife. But both agree: They feel great gratitude and awe for life when they hold their newborn in their arms. Awe mixed with horror: O God, we are responsible for this little person from now on. He absolutely needs us, no ifs or buts.

A mid-30-year-old says of his mother's death: “It was infinitely sad. And at the same time I felt how beginning and end belong together. We come from somewhere and we return there. ”Death inspires respect. The grief is combined with the fear and the certainty that one will die one day. Many feel how precious it is to be able to live.

Moments of awe also know those newly in love. One is overwhelmed by the happiness of having found this person, waking up by his or her side. The whole world appears in a new light, and the heart is amazed: this really happens to me!

For many people who believe, the experiences of love, death, birth, or the wonder of creation have to do with God. The Bible calls the feeling of being very close to the depth of being and the origin of life, reverence for God.

Awe is very different from the fear of God that some people try to instill in others. There is the nursery rhyme: “Watch out, little eye, what you see. Take care, little hand, what you do. Because Heavenly Father is always looking to you. ”That sounds harmless, but it can poison the souls of the little ones with a hell of a fear of God. Who learns to believe in this way, for him or her, the great God becomes a little, lousy overseer who only waits for you to do something wrong. It is as far removed from reverence for the Creator of life as morning is from evening