Trembling at God’s Word

tremble word of god lion

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” — Psalm 2:11 (KJV)
“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” — Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 4:7 (NKJV)
“My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments.” — Psalm 119:120 (NKJV)
“On this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” — Isaiah 66:2 (NKJV)
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” — Philippians 2:12 (NKJV)
“For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” — Hebrews 2:2-3 (NKJV)
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” — Hebrews 4:12-13 (NKJV)

When King David heard the word of God through the prophet Nathan – condemning for his sins of adultery and murder – he repented and said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13, cf Psalm 51).

Jonah preaching in Nineveh

Jonah preaching in Nineveh

When the people of Nineveh heard the word of God through the prophet Jonah – that the city would be destroyed in forty days – then they fasted and put on sackcloth and ashes (Jonah 3:4-9).

When King Hezekiah of Judah heard the word of God through the prophet Isaiah – that he would “die and not live” – then Hezekiah “turned his face toward the wall” and “wept” (2 Kings 20:1-3; Isaiah 38:1-3).

When King Josiah of Judah heard the word of God through Moses (Deuteronomy) – from a book that a scribe had discovered in the temple – then “he tore his clothes” and “wept” (2 Kings 22:11, 19; 2 Chronicles 34:19, 27).

When the prophet Daniel heard the word of God through a vision of a man (pre-incarnate Christ), he “stood trembling” (Daniel 10:11).

When the scribe Ezra heard that Israel had not separated herself from the abominations of the peoples around her and had taken their daughters as wives to her sons, he “sat down astonished … until the evening sacrifice” (Ezra 9:1-4). Ezra even tore his robe and plucked out some of his hair (9:3). All those who “trembled at the words of the God of Israel” sat with him (9:4; cf 10:3, 9). Ezra later confessed and wept over Israel’s sins (9:5-10:1).

peter pentecost preaching

Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost

When the people of Jerusalem heard the preaching of Peter – that the Jesus whom they had crucified was “both Lord and Christ” – then “they were cut to the heart” and asked the apostles, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:36-37)

When Saul (later Paul) heard the word of God on the road to Damascus, he trembled: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6)

It takes a tender, humble heart to weep or tremble at God’s word. Most don’t.

When the wicked prophets, priests, and people heard the word of God through the prophet Jeremiah – that God would make the temple “like Shiloh” and Jerusalem a “curse to all the nations of the earth” – they seized Jeremiah and told him he would die (Jeremiah 26:6, 9).

When King Jehoiakim of Judah – the son of King Josiah – heard the word of God from a scroll written by Jeremiah, he burned the scroll (Jeremiah 26:21-23). The king didn’t fear God, tear his garments, or weep (26:24).

The stoning of Stephen

The stoning of Stephen

When the Pharisees heard the preaching of Stephen at his trial, then “they were cut to the heart and … gnashed at him with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). Unlike the men of Jerusalem, these men didn’t ask Stephen how to be saved. After he saw the “Son of Man standing at the right hand of God,” the Pharisees “stopped their ears” and stoned Stephen outside the city (7:57-58).

Many other people who heard the apostles’ preaching arrested, beat, or stoned them (Acts 4:3, 5:18, 5:40, 12:3-4, 14:19, 16:22-23, 18:17, 21:32-33). When the people of Jerusalem heard Paul’s testimony, they cried, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live” (22:22). Other people mocked (17:32) or blasphemed God (13:45, 18:6). King Herod killed James the brother of John, just to harass the church (12:2).

After God’s two witnesses prophesy to Babylon for 1260 days, the beast will lead all unbelievers on the earth to “make war against them … and kill them” (Revelation 11:3, 7).

Only those who tremble, weep, confess, and repent because of the Word of God will be saved. Those who don’t will be destroyed.

  • King David was forgiven of his sins (2 Samuel 12:13). God took the life of his first child with Bathsheba, but gave him a second – Solomon (12:24).
  • The people of Nineveh were spared from destruction (Jonah 3:10).
  • King Hezekiah was healed and received the promise of fifteen more years of life (2 Kings 20:5-6, Isaiah 38:5).
  • King Josiah was spared witnessing the calamity that God would bring on Jerusalem and Judah (2 Kings 22:19-20, 2 Chronicles 34:27-28).
  • Ezra received a promise from those with pagan wives that they would separate themselves and would bring a ram for a trespass offering (Ezra 10:2-5, 19).
  • Over 3,000 people who heard Peter’s preaching were saved and baptized (Acts 2:41).
  • Paul was converted, received his sight and anointed to preach (Acts 9:17-20).

By contrast,

  • Most of Jerusalem’s wicked people (prophets, priests, kings, and commoners) were taken captive or destroyed by Babylon (2 Kings 25, 2 Chronicles 36, Jeremiah 39 and 52).
  • King Jehoiakim was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:6).
  • God struck King Herod with worms so that he died (Acts 12:23).
  • The temple and most inhabitants of Jerusalem were destroyed in AD 70.
  • After God resurrects his two witnesses and takes them to heaven, he will destroy 7000 unbelievers with an earthquake (Revelation 11:11-13). The beast will then be cast into the lake of fire (20:20).

When you hear the word of God, do you tremble and weep? Are you cut to the heart with conviction? If the answer is ‘no,’ confess and repent of your sins. Only God can melt the heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:36).


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