Wonderstruck by the God Who Does Great Wonders
Some time ago I saw a Christian believer post online that they were praying for rain in a region of the globe that was suffering from a drought. Another person replied with evident skepticism, “You were praying for rain in another part of the world? Just how big do you think God is, anyway?”
This brief interaction, while perhaps an extreme example, provides a small window into why many people in our age are not that impressed with God. Sadly, Christians are frequently not much different. We have too often shrunk our thoughts about God down to not much more than a limited local deity.
Perhaps this is you, in your faith walk, right now. Has it been a long time since you were deeply, genuinely wonderstruck at the nature of God?
One of the healthiest things we can do is recalibrate our perceptions of God by looking afresh at his Word. Put simply, the Bible is impressed with who God is. And rightly so, because of who God actually is.
Behold, He Who Forms Mountains
The Bible presents God as the creator and sustainer of everything and everyone. He is eternal, unchangeable, holy, omnipresent, and almighty. He is the only one, in fact, who performs truly great wonders.
As the prophet Amos addressed the stubbornly rebellious people of Israel, he rebuked them for a similar tendency he saw in his day: the tendency to think small thoughts in relation to God. Amos warns, “Prepare to meet your God!” (4:12). And in the following verse, Amos reminds them of the true nature of this truly awesome God:
For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name! (Amos 4:13)
Because we are so limited ourselves, we tend to project limitations on God as well. Surely (we think) he cannot help in this situation, or heal this loved one, or answer this prayer. Like the disciples in a boat with Jesus in a storm, or like the Israelites in Amos’ day, we have trouble even imagining a God who can tell a storm to be still just as we might tell a dog to heel, or who forms mountains like we … well, actually, like nothing we ourselves can do.
This is why the psalmist elsewhere in Scripture extols God as the one who “alone does great wonders” (Psalm 136:4). He is, the psalmist declares, “the God of gods” and “the Lord of lords.” As impressed as we often are with the latest technological advancements, none of these can even be listed in the same category as making mountains, controlling the wind, or decisively declaring what will happen in the future. Our greatest inventions are trinkets next to the creative works of God.
Yet in the same psalm in which we are reminded of the “great wonders” of God, we find motivation for—not only reverent worship, but also—familial fellowship. The greatest of all wonders, in fact, is that this God cares for us! Thus every verse of the psalm echoes the constant refrain that “his steadfast love endures forever.”
The same God who “made the heavens” and “the sun to rule the day” also “led his people through the wilderness” and “remembered us in our low estate.” The God who is Creator is also a shepherd and a father. Because he is eternal, unchangeable, holy, omnipresent, and almighty—his love for us is eternal, unchangeable, holy, omnipresent, and almighty. His steadfast love endures forever.
In fact, the one who in the New Testament is also described as “Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) would indeed remember us in our lowest of all conditions, as sinful humans in need of a deliverer. And so he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Truly, with this God, his mercy knows no end. His steadfast love endures forever!
Back to the prophet Amos, this is why he calls God’s people to think again about their God, to prepare themselves for what the experience of his presence will actually involve. This God is not only awesomely powerful, but also awesomely merciful: “Behold, the days are coming when … I will restore the fortunes of my people” (Amos 9:13-14). In other words, forget that shriveled little mental idol you’ve been calling “God.” Prepare to meet the real God. Behold he who forms the mountains. Behold the God who has mercy on his wayward people.
How long has it been since you beheld this God? Since you took a long, meditative look at the God who made the mountains and who restores his people? The God who does great wonders, and yet remembers us in our low estate? This is the God who in the Bible perfectly and majestically reveals himself to us. This is the God to whom you are praying, Christian believer!
In the Beginning God
It is no accident that Scripture begins with God. Not with humanity, not even with salvation. Scripture begins with God, because God alone was there in the beginning.
“In the beginning, God” (Genesis 1:1).
This cannot be said of anything or anyone else, period. Not in this or any other world. God alone is eternal, transcendent. He has always existed and always will exist. He predates and will last longer than time, having himself no beginning and no end.
In case we don’t quickly catch the implication: God is not like us! We don’t possess self-existence; we come from someone else. God has no parents, no need for food to sustain him, no need for wisdom or power outside himself. As small and insignificant as it may make us feel, it is nonetheless true that God is eternally, joyfully complete in himself.
God alone is dependent on nothing outside himself. Everything and every one else—from snails to archangels—requires something outside itself to exist. Even ten thousand years into heaven we will not be like God in this respect; we will not be autonomous or self-sufficient. Heaven will exist forever (and we in heaven) because God promises to sustain us forever. Heaven is eternal because God is eternal and promises to sustain it.
Yet, as we continue reading in Genesis, we find the same God who can speak solar systems into existence deals intimately and affectionately with humanity in our creation as his image-bearers.
Notice the personal, even tactile, language used in the formation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2. The Lord God “formed” Adam and then “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” The intimate imagery of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation comes to mind—only this is suscitation, the initial act of giving life! God does not merely speak man into existence, but forms him and then breathes him to life! Likewise, God then takes a rib out of sleeping Adam and from it makes a woman.
The God who holds the universe together is personally and tenderly engaged with humanity, from the beginning.
God Created the Heavens and the Earth
This phrase “heavens and the earth” is a summary statement. This speaks of everything. And God made it all.
As I’m writing this article, NASA is releasing the first images from their $9 billion Webb telescope. One spectacular, full-color image bespectacled with myriad points of light was introduced by NASA chief Bill Nelson with this description: “The thousands of galaxies appearing in the image were captured in a tiny patch of the sky roughly the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone standing on Earth.”
Billions of solar systems in our galaxy, and over 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe (spanning billions of light-years) are summed up in Genesis 1 with one word: the “heavens.”
Then amazingly this one pencil-point-sized planet we live on (“earth”) forms the other half of this description of all of creation: “God created the heavens and the earth.” This reveals something very special and very important, even from the opening sentence of the Bible.
The God who created atoms and Alpha Centauri is especially, particularly, disproportionately interested in what happens in our tiny little corner of his Creation. In this very first verse of Scripture we already have hints of the gospel!
The one true God, who created everything out of nothing and therefore exercises authority over every particle, is especially and particularly interested in the predicament of humans on earth. And as we come to see later in Genesis, this is our predicament: while the universe was created by the one true and perfect God, we humans have sinned. We have walked our own way and so are no longer walking with our Creator as Adam once did.
So just as we needed someone outside ourselves to create us in the first place, we need a power outside ourselves to re-create us and place us once again in a position of fellowship with our Maker. Just as we needed God to suscitate humanity in the first place, we need him to resuscitate our souls as fallen image-bearers.
Yet here is the good news of the Christian message! The same attributes of creation power and authority that are ascribed to God in Genesis 1:1 are in the New Testament ascribed to Jesus as the God-man: “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Jesus, the God-man, has power to create and therefore to re-create, to save us from our broken, wayward condition. The God who reveals himself in the Bible formed you and me. And he invites us to come to him through faith in Jesus, and cast all our cares on him. In Christ, God is restoring the fortunes of his people.
So, yes, Christian—you can pray for your loved one who is ill, for the governments of the world to act justly, and for regions around the globe that are in need of rain. God can handle it. And you can even pray to this God as your Father, because in Christ we have new life and are embraced by a love that is steadfast and endures forever.
This God is especially, particularly, disproportionately interested in us. We ought to be wonderstruck by him.
Check out Justin’s book, Behold: An Invitation to Wonder