I wonder if our familiarity with the Nativity doesn’t have, if not a damaging effect, sometimes a dulling one. That we can look in the manger, see the Baby, and subconsciously think to ourselves, “That’s a manageable God.”
We behold Him in His humanity and somehow think there’s a degree of equality. Having “emptied Himself” of His eternal majesty and power, “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Php. 2:7), because He presents Himself less than He really is, we think of ourselves more than we really should.
But a couple of readings this morning destroy that notion. Reminding me that my God is untamable.
One of those readings was in Revelation 19. There we see the heavens opened and the one called Faithful and True ready to make war against the enemies of God on earth.
His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God. . . . From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
(Revelation 19:12-16 ESV)
Nothing silent about this night. Nothing calm. Nothing bright. Not so tender. Not so mild. The Babe in the manger is the Warrior of heaven. King of kings and Lord of lords.
But it was chewing on Job 41 this morning that really got me thinking about our untamable God. There God is addressing Job who has been begging to go toe-to-toe with the Almighty over his unfair circumstances (though, had Job really thought about the implications of going one-on-one with the “All Mighty,” he might have cooled his jets a bit). And God says, in effect, “Face off with Leviathan first.”
After God reminds Job that He is God of all creation, with power over every living creature, God draws Job’s attention to one creature in particular, Leviathan. Don’t know the exact identity of this beast, but think a cross between the biggest, meanest croc you can imagine and a fire-breathing dragon.
Not to be found in a merchant’s market because it’s next to impossible to trap, contain, or kill the beast. Its skin impervious to harpoons and spears. Its teeth a terror. When he raises himself up the most mighty of men shake in their boots. When he starts to thrash they are beside themselves.
“Can you put a rope in his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he make many pleas to you? Will he speak to you soft words? Will he make a covenant with you to take him for your servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you put him on a leash for your girls?”
(Job 41:2-5 ESV)
Will you put him on a leash for your girls? That’s the phrase that caught my attention. (I wonder why?) That’s the thought that led me to read Job 41 over a couple of times.
Bottom line? You don’t mess with Leviathan. Lay your hands on him, it won’t happen again. To look at him will be to drop in dread. So fierce that no one dares even stir him.
“Who then is he who can stand before Me?” ~ God (Job 41:10b ESV)
If a mere creature is so untamable, then what of its Creator? If what was spoken into being is beyond our power to domesticate, then what of the One who did the speaking?
It makes the wonder of Immanuel, God with us, all that more wondrous. The awe of the Christ child, in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19), all that more awesome.
And while it makes Him, in a sense, all that more accessible, beware lest we think Him governable.
He is accessible not because He is any less God, but because of the steadfast love that compelled Him to pursue a wayward people, coming in flesh, coming to serve, coming to offer His life as a ransom for many, in order to provide us a way into His holy presence.
So, while our God has made Himself approachable, He is still untamable.
O, let us enter into the holy of holies by the blood of Jesus. And let us worship Him in the splendor His might and power.
And this, by His grace alone. And this, for His glory alone.