He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.
In 1 Kings 19, when Elijah goes to Mt. Horeb to meet God, God sends three "appetizers" that prepare the way for his coming -- a mighty wind that breaks the rocks in pieces, an earthquake, and a fire.
In the classic hymn, "O Worship The King" one stanza declares,
"His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form / And dark is his path on the wings of the storm."
I'm always amazed at how lightly we take God. I keep him around, sort of like my car keys -- when I need access to something, when I need help getting myself from here to there, when I need a temporary shelter, he's right there and I can take advantage of him.
This all-powerful God who dwells in lightning and thunder, who sends storms that shatter the foundations of buildings, and I treat him like a key ring, forgetting him or remembering him as it serves my purpose.
But this God, whom I glimpsed last night in the wall cloud and the lashing rain, who tears oaks limb from limb, is so far beyond me. If I begin to contemplate his power, his strength, the capability of what he can do, I should rather be terrified ... except for one thing.
God chooses to be merciful.
He is powerful beyond my comprehension, yes. But he harnesses that might and turns it toward saving, not destroying, me. Like the song says, he is "Mighty to Save." His wrath lasts but for a moment, but his mercy is for a lifetime.
Luther said that apart from Jesus, the face of God is hidden and God's character is indistinguishable from the devil. If all I knew was the God of the storm, it would be impossible to trust him. But thanks be to God, in Jesus I meet the God who heals, who washes feet, who raises the dead, who forgives sinners. I meet God at the cross and the empty tomb.
I need to remember that though Jesus is merciful, that in him I meet God who loves me, that doesn't change his power or his authority. His mercy, his love, give me all that much more cause to fall at his feet and worship him.
This picture was taken about an hour after the first one as we drove home into the brilliant sunset: