Photographer Martin Rietze captured this image of the Sakurajima Volcano in southern Kyushu during a recent lightning storm.
I’ve looked at this picture for ten minutes now and I can’t tell you if I think it’s more beautiful or terrifying. It’s both, of course.
This image, so powerful, reminds me of a passage in Deuteronomy. Moses is reflecting on the time God spoke to Israel from Mount Horeb “out of the midst of the fire.” It’s here where he says, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire.”
Seven verses later Moses writes, “For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you.”
Today, in honor of our fiery mercy God, I thought we might read together about the God-ness of God. Here’s Moses in verses 32-38 of Deuteronomy chapter 4:
For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of.
Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire.
… the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
God didn’t deliver you from Egypt, ten plagues and a split sea in your rear view mirror, but He did deliver you—from mediocrity and sin and death. He didn’t talk to you from a fire-topped mountain, but He did talk to you—through His son, the incarnate Word, through His messengers, through His creation, through His children…
You’ve seen lighting and lava (if only in pictures). You’ve seen babies born. You’ve seen butterflies and tadpoles turned toads. You’ve watched men and women wage war on poverty and hatred, winning. You’ve lived beyond and outside of death.
You’ve seen wonders.
God Scout, “to you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God.”
Praise be to the Lord God in Heaven above and on the earth beneath!
There is no other.