Why did God sometimes appear in frightening ways, such as in Psalm 18:7–15?


Psalms 18:7 - 15

ESV - 7 Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. 8 Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.

Clarify Share Report Asked December 11 2022 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
Assuming the phenomena described in the cited passage to be pertaining to literaI events, I would say that God's behavior, or the ways in which He manifests Himself, are perfectly proportional (in His omniscience) to the behavior or threat posed by the enemies against whom He is engaged, or the needs for protection of those whom He is guarding or defending.

Such displays are meant to convey righteous anger in a manner that will either punish/strike terror, or (alternatively) provide comfort and assurance of His active involvement.

At the same time, however, even at their most frightening or justifiably punitive, these displays have secondary purposes of desiring to cause those who have made themselves God's enemies to realize the futility of their efforts, and turn to Him so that they can be saved, or to serve as a cautionary message to His followers, warning or reminding them of the consequences of disobedience so that they will remain faithful to Him.

December 11 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Justin Hale
This is actually a really neat question because it is the reason why the nation of Israel agreed with GOD to have Him come to them as 'Messiah.'

In Deuteronomy 18, Israel is in the Sinai desert gathered and encamped at the base of a mountain called 'Horeb' where GOD the Father was revealing His 'Names' (His unique attributes, power, glory and majesty).

The scripture explains that the entire nation was 'trembling' in fear at the sights and sounds and began to beg Moses to approach GOD and ask Him an unusual question. They wanted to know if GOD could display Himself and His same 'Names' in a different way that was less frightening. They even suggested that GOD somehow come to them as a man and prophet like Moses, since they revered Moses but did not feel a constant sense of mortal dread as if they would imminently die at any moment. 

GOD did not become angry with this request. He did not laugh at the idea of 'becoming human' either, as Moses was presenting it to Him. Surprisingly, GOD simply said:

"The people have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their brothers, and I will put My words into His mouth, and He will speak to them all that I command Him." (Deuteronomy 18:17-18). 

Only GOD also gave them a warning about this request. He explained that the punishments attached to rejecting this prophet's words would be to answer directly to GOD Himself and not the lesser judgments of Moses or other men. They would be cut off from the holy assembly of GOD's presence forever. From then on also, anyone acting presumptuously and speaking in the Name of Yahweh falsely would answer similarly.

The people agreed to this new arrangement and the promised 'Messiah' became the new focus of the nation of Israel and all of its future prophets. Messiah is 'all of GOD's Names' presented to us in a 'less frightening' and 'more familiar' Form. Only we must be reverently cautious and recognize that this does not mean that GOD Himself has changed, or that He Is any less powerful, glorious, holy, or worthy of our greatest respect and obedience.

"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES."

"Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy by the mouth of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as defiled the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?"

"For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:26-31).

December 11 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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