I Saw the Terror of the Lord

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This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Who is God?

I Saw the Terror of the Lord

Last night, I had the privilege to attend a conference meeting where Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, was speaking. It was awesome. For the first time, during worship, I saw the terror of the Lord.

What do I mean by “terror of the Lord”? Well, before worship–actually right when Pastor Bill walked in the room, because he carries so much of the Presence of the Lord–and during worship, the Lord revealed a side of Himself that I had never encountered before: His terrible-ness. I caught just a glimpse of how powerful He is, and how awesome, and how totally other He is.

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    God is not like me.

    Am I made in His image? Yes. But God is not like me.

    He is OTHER.

    And He is terrible.

    Seeing this side of Him first-hand inspired me to fear.

    Was it a holy fear? Yes. It was not a demonic fear. But it was fear nonetheless. It wasn’t just respect, and maybe there’s a better word for it than “fear,” but if there is I don’t know what it is. So I can only use the language I have to describe how I felt when He revealed Himself to me.

    I felt afraid.

    It was the first time I have ever encountered the Lord and literally prayed, “Please don’t kill me.”

    Because He could.

    And other than praying “Please don’t kill me,” I was mostly speechless, except for having this prayer going over and over in my head:

    “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness. According to Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.

    And please don’t kill me.”

    I had heard about how terrible He is, and read about it in the Bible, but I had never encountered this side of Him.

    It was awesome. And it was terrible.

    I must have felt something like Isaiah felt like, when he saw the Lord in Isaiah chapter 6: “Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

    Some people say the fear of the Lord is just respect. Bill Johnson says, “Yeah, you stand in front of the One whose eyes burn with fire, and tell me it’s just respect.” The apostle John saw Jesus one day and immediately fell at His feet as if dead (Revelation 1:17). That’s what I felt like doing last night.

    I don’t have a point to this blog post other than to describe what I saw. I’m not an authority on this subject. This is the first time I have seen this side of God. I literally felt like I could have died, on the spot, before His awesomeness. I prayed and prayed for this Perfect, Holy One to cleanse me. And eventually, the Holy Spirit moved me into a place of feeling just His love, and not His terror.

    But it was an encounter I needed. Too often, I trivialize God. Don’t you? We obey if we feel like it. We worship when we feel like it, or when we have time.

    But God is great, and mighty, and terrible. Is He loving? Yes. Is He good? Yes. But He is terrible as well.

    And His terror commands a holy, yet still gut-wrenching fear.

    Series Navigation<< Jesus Christ is Perfect TheologyArchitecture as Worship: Monastery of the Holy Spirit >>


    1. Jim Wells says:

      I have often thought that English was insufficient to convey the ‘awesomeness’ of God. When you use the word ‘terrible’ it is probably the true sense of the KJV word and not what it has become in current language. Our God is a consuming fire. Case closed. It is awesome to hear about this kind of manifestation traveling with a true apostle like Johnson.

      A note on the Isaiah passage…the terror Isaiah felt made him cry out what lepers were required to cry out in Ancient Israel, “unclean.” He loathed himself in comparison to the King of the Universe. He was un-done.

      1. Very cool thoughts, Jim. Yes, I was definitely using the word in the KJV sense: terrible to behold. 🙂

    2. Angela Bley says:

      Jamie: thank you for sharing. Jim: thank you for enlightening more on the “awesomeness” of God. If only we all could have the same experience that you had. I believe we would think differently. We would act differently. We would not hesitate in obedience. We would have a whole new perspective regarding our walk with God. Don’t you think?

      When I read about your experience, I think of Exodus 33 where Moses saw the back side of God. Was your experience comparable to this?

      1. Angela, no, I would not presume to say that my experience was anything like the experience Moses had. But it was still new and awesome to me.

    3. Angela Bley says:

      Jamie, I find your experience amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    4. Hi Jamie! My name is Carmen and I was browsing “ how to know the Holy Spirit ” you are such a blessing to many who are seeking the Holy Spirit and wanting to know him. I have felt him but not been able to know how much he has to offer !!! Blessings ??

    5. Barbara Richardson says:

      I attended a revival some years ago where there would be hours of worship taking place and one night (I didn’t know it at the time), I experienced the Shekinah Glory of God. There seemed to be a fog in the room and people started wailing and running to the altar. I felt a heaviness in the room, so heavy that I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die. It definitely opened my eyes to the awesomeness and terror of the Lord.

    6. Hello Jamie, your obedience to the Lord is always such a blessing to us!!
      I’ve never shared this before, but I had a similar experience of God’s Great, Mighty, and Awesome Terribleness. I lived in a small studio apartment at the time, and was pacing around praying in the spirit. It was so overwhelming there wasn’t enough “room” in the room, I had to open the door and look outside to let it expand out… and to see that I was really still on the physical earth! A few other times I have experienced the Shekinah Glory of God, and there is a weighty-ness and calmness and a kind of sensing of “glowing” to the shekinah. This was NOT like that, this was extremely powerful; fire-y (but without a sense of being consumed), with a feeling of being stretched out, of feeling the immense-ness of God.
      I hope everybody experiences God like that at least once in their lives!

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