3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. Psalm 29:3-5
The thunder of a mighty storm is not a testament to the greatness of nature, but to the power of the awesome God who “speaks” about his grandeur and unsurpassed might to us. Verse 5 is a statement of fact: God breaks the cedars of Lebanon. Now breaking down trees is not inherently significant. Lumberjacks fall trees all the time. A man with only a hand axe might labour for a long time, but with perseverance, he will succeed in chopping down the tree. However, God’s tree-falling instrument is not an axe, chainsaw, nor even an excavator. He does not summon a work crew to consult with on how he should make his cuts. No! He does not use the things that we weak creatures must use. The instrument that God uses for smashing the massive cedars of Lebanon is his “voice”! If there is anything to be learnt from this simple phrase, it is that there is a massive difference between us and God.
Who is like our God? Could you throw away your chainsaw, stand beside a cedar tree and shout until it broke into pieces? Would you accomplish anything more than scaring termites off its bark? And yet, the Lord is different as his voice thunders in the storm. At his “words,” not even the mighty trees of the forest can stand. At his voice, their bark is stripped and their massive trunks snapped by an enormous invisible force. The same voice that commanded the earth to sprout and brought the tree into existence is the same voice that can tear the great trees apart, limb from limb, and snap their twelve-foot trunks like a child would snap a small twig.
I have heard many say that they wish that they could hear the Lord speak. But I daresay we do not understand what we are asking for. When the Israelites were assembled around Mount Sinai and saw the thunder, the flashes of lightning and the entire mountain smoking as if it were being consumed by flames, they trembled in terror and stood far away. You speak to us Moses, and we’ll listen! But don’t let God speak to us lest we die! Who has such a voice? And if God’s awesomeness is heard in the storm that destroys giant cedars, how much more awesome must the person of God himself be? If the very sound of his voice levels entire forests and causes people to fear for their lives, what must seeing God be like? No wonder Isaiah upon seeing God in his glory fell to the ground in fear that he would be struck dead. How can unworthy creatures like us look on him who is eternal, all-powerful, and has a voice like thunder that smashes the greatest of trees?
Can you see then why the person of Jesus Christ is so stunning? He was fully God, yet people could hear his voice, and not flee in terror. People could look at him, and not be struck dead. The holy God was veiled in humanity as an act of mercy so that we could see the Way to eternal life and not die in our sins. Yet, the mercy of God was repaid with contempt. The great King whose voice can break trees was instead nailed to one. The voice that can calm storms stayed silent as his tormentors mocked him. His voice could have summoned twelve legions of angels dressed in shining robes and with burning swords in their hands to slaughter his enemies, yet, his voice called out for their pardon instead.
Christian, are you grateful that Christ’s words on the cross were not “Destroy all my enemies,” but “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?” Are you grateful that the storm of God’s wrath will not break you like one of the cedars of Lebanon because Jesus’ body was broken for you? Christian, if you are discouraged and need to be reminded of the power of God, remember that his voice alone can smash the cedars of Lebanon! If you find yourself proud of your own achievements, remember that your voice does not carry across the oceans like the voice of our God. He was wounded for our transgressions and slaughtered for our sins. He took the penalty we deserved so that we might one day be in fellowship with him forever.
Brothers and sisters, let us rejoice that the mighty voice of God did not break us like the cedars of Lebanon, but broke his own Son so that we could be whole. To such a truth, there is only one proper posture—worship. Thank you, Lord Jesus.