By Don Ruhl
If God looked upon you, would you not tremble? Would you not tremble, if you saw Him looking at you? “He looks on the earth, and it trembles” (Psa 104.32).
If you were looking upon God, would you not tremble? “The mountains saw You and trembled” (Hab 3.10, 11). Do you know who He is?
Biblical Men Trembled Before God
Moses was up on the mountain of God and saw Him in ways no man had ever seen Him, “And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling’” (Heb 12.21). Imagine speaking with God directly. We would tremble, even as Moses did (Acts 7.32), and even as Israel trembled (Exo 19.16; 20.18).
When Isaiah saw the holy God, the prophet trembled, saying, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isa 6.5).
The presence of God affected Jeremiah, causing the prophet to be like a drunken man, with strength leaving his body (Jer 23.9).
When Ezekiel saw the glory of God and then the cherubim bringing the glory of God to Ezekiel, the prophet responded as though dead (Eze 1.28; see also 3.23; 43.3; 44.4).
Chapter 10 of Daniel shows how the man of God continued to tremble before God, requiring God to strengthen the man repeatedly to prepare him to receive the message that was finally given in chapters 11 and 12.
Perhaps someone says that was all Old Testament, but in the New Testament it is different. He who says such things does not know God, as He ought to be known. Has God changed, or is He still the same God?
When Paul saw a vision of Jesus Christ (Acts 9.6), the future apostle trembled. When John saw the glorified Jesus (Rev 1.9–17), the poor old man could not help himself and fell down as dead at the feet of Jesus.
Tremble Before God
We should certainly tremble at the thought of sinning against God, but we should also tremble before God simply for who He is, even as the earth trembles at the presence of God (1Ch 16.30), for we are His creation.
The word of God should bring trembling into the soul of every person, even as it did in the days of Ezra (Ezra 9.4). Should not God’s word draw the same response from us? Isaiah 66.2 even pronounces a blessing on those who tremble at the word of God.
Why We Tremble Before God
Trembling comes naturally when we understand the nature of God. If you do not yet know the nature of God, perhaps meditating on Jeremiah 5.22 will help you to see Him in the proper light, “‘Do you not fear Me?’ says the LORD. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.’” Whose power matches this? Do we understand the power of God?
Contemplating God’s generosity causes trembling (Jer 33.9; Mark 5.33).
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2.19). We are better than demons. So then let us believe and obey (which the demons do not do) and tremble as we, “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in [us] both to will and do for His good pleasure” (Phi 2.12, 13).