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There is something to beauty that makes us tremble. I’m reminded of the tornado I stood staring at when I was five from my second story bedroom window. I wasn’t alone, as my mother and father rushed in to get me, we all were paralyzed. We just gazed at it in utter awe and fascination. It was beautiful. Why do I recall and feel, to this day, compelled to call it beautiful? I have no other explanation but that there is an element of fear in many moments of beauty; aestheticians (people who study beauty) have observed this more than once. There is something about the unknown that when it is combined with something untamable evokes awe in us. When this untamable unknown comes too near, however, our awe quickly turns to dread, then horror. If God is the foundation for beauty, as I believe, then God’s most repeated command to fear Him takes on new significance in light of this connection between fear and beauty. God is called the fulness of beauty at any rate (Ps. 50:2), so Scripture has already disclosed such a combination (Ps. 96:6). If ever the term “untamable” was properly applied, it would be to God. The vastness of His freedom is unimaginable, and we are warned, through poor but righteous Job, that all creation is only the slightest glimpse of God’s might (Job 26:14). Drawing too near to God would be insane danger, but, in His love, God has provided a Mediator, the Lord Jesus, so that we can draw near to God without impending doom. God — it must be ever remembered — dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16). Certainly, Jesus is untamable Himself — flipping tables and such — but He brings in Himself the unknown God who stands at a distance we could never reach, and tames the incendiary danger of God, who is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). The commands to fear God imply an enjoyment of God, a delight in His beauty, but always with an eye to the endangerment that comes by such nearness. God is commanding us to fear Him, and, through that fear, to enjoy His majesty, sublimity, beauty. God’s commands to fear Him are not about our utmost for His highest, but, instead, about His utmost for lifting us higher. God is truly awe-inspiring in His utmost heights, and we are lifted higher when we set our eyes on Him.

Dr. Scalise