Back in the autumn of last year, God gave me a significant prophetic word. He used a lovely French lady, who I had never met before, to speak it over me – and there was a witness, a British man, also unknown to me. I recall how she had a beautiful accent and he had an exquisitely trimmed beard!
I knew, almost instantly, what the word meant – and what God was requiring of me. It was clearly aligned with specific Scriptures in support. So me being me, I noted it in my journal and committed to pray into it.
But I didn’t obey – or not straightaway.
It was partly a lack of faith, partly a lack of trust, and partly a lack of awe and reverence at what had happened. Put simply, my relationship with God had become over-familiar.
It went along these lines: God is my friend, so of course he speaks to me, because that’s what friends do.
But what I had momentarily forgotten was this: God is also the Lord of the entire universe, sovereign over all. Yet he has chosen to speak into my life, in a specific and personal way, at a precise moment in time, because he knows that I need to hear what he wants to say. How much he must love me! How much he must care for me!
Put simply: Who was I to disobey?
It was against this backdrop that a dear friend gave me a life-changing Scripture, which has resonated, again and again, in the months since – and is still echoing in my heart today.
The verse my friend highlighted to me was this one, in which God says: “But this is the one to whom I will look. He who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my Word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
It hit me like a lightning bolt from heaven: He wants those who are humble, contrite and God-fearing. He wants those who have an awe and a reverence for his Word.
I instantly knew that I did not have the right posture in my heart – towards God or towards his Word. Needless to say, I humbled myself before him, falling on my knees in repentance and worship, until there was a shift change within me.
The context here is that, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God has just authoritatively announced that: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” (Isaiah 66:1)
He is asserting that he sits enthroned in the heights of heaven, far above this world. He is pointing out how, from his perspective, the nations are like miniscule specks of dust. So which of us human beings, within those nations, could possibly capture his attention and draw his gaze?
God answers by specifying three non-negotiables – humility, contrition and a reverential awe for his Word.
FIRSTLY, GOD SAYS HE WILL LOOK TO THE ONE WHO IS “HUMBLE”.
The word here for “humble” speaks of lowliness. It isn’t speaking of physical stature, but of an attitude of heart. It’s speaking of a modest, self-effacing, unassuming stance. It’s saying that, if we want to be enlisted by God, he won’t even give us a glance if we’re seeking the spotlight. He must become higher; we must become lower.
SECONDLY, GOD SAYS HE WILL LOOK TO THE ONE WHO IS “CONTRITE IN SPIRIT”.
The word here for “contrite” speaks of being stricken or smitten. It’s saying that we need to yield to God, with remorse for our sin, allowing him to break and shape us.
And the word here for “spirit” suggests that we need to cultivate this kind of repentance in the innermost part of our hearts, not in a surface-level sort of way, on an ongoing basis.
THIRDLY, GOD SAYS HE WILL LOOK TO THE ONE WHO “TREMBLES AT MY WORD”.
There is a reverential awe in the use of this word, “tremble”, and it’s this which has so spoken to me in recent months. To tremble at his Word means reading and treating it seriously and respectfully. It means embracing it and taking it to heart. It means approaching and responding to it with sober devotion.
Put simply, God will honour those who honour his Word. But woe betide anyone who mistreats or belittles it.
These three timeless requirements remain the same today, just as they did when God first spoke them through Isaiah. He still looks for those who are humble and contrite. His gaze is still drawn to those who tremble at his Word, with utter reverence, in awe of the authority, power and weight that it carries.
God’s Word is never to be taken lightly, ignored or disobeyed.
Now, when I read the Scriptures, I have fresh respect for what he is saying – and when I sense him speaking, I don’t hesitate to obey.
Of the three prerequisites contained in Isaiah 66:2, which one challenges you the most? How often do you humble yourself before God? How regularly do you come before him, contrite in spirit? And when was the last time that you truly trembled at his Word?
Also, perhaps, like me, you have had an experience where you sensed God speaking, backed up by the Scriptures, but you’ve failed to obey. If this is you, what was it that held you back? And what will it take to make you do what he asked of you?
As ever, constructive comments are welcome!
Please note: This is my ‘thought for the month’ reflection for July. (You can find all my ‘thought for the month’ reflections here.)
Image by Doung Tep Ro from Pixabay