Nature lies outside the grasp of my control. One decent thunderstorm is enough to make this clear. And in Tennessee, we get some lively storms, complete with lightning, hail, damaging winds, and even the occasional tornado touching down. The thunder can crack so loud it shakes our house. The lightning still startles me, and with good reason.
Scientists say lightning can heat the surrounding air to temperatures near five times greater than the surface of the Sun. The surface temperature of the sun is somewhere around 7,400 degrees fahrenheit. That means lightning heats the air around it to 37,000 degrees fahrenheit. When lightning hits a tree, it can splinter the tree into a thousand pieces, and yet, as powerful as lightning is, it does not always destroy the tree.
Many trees withstand this sun-scorching bolt. Trees in themselves are formidable structures with roots reaching deep into the ground. They are not easily shaken. They are not easily moved. They weigh tons and outlive us by centuries. But still, there is something more powerful than lightning that always fells trees. It is the voice of the Lord.
In Psalm 29:5, we read:
“The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.”
The cedars of Lebanon are massive trees. They grow to heights of 130 feet, but more importantly for our purposes, they thicken to the diameter of 8 feet across. Picture 8 feet across. That’s gargantuan. That’s big enough to live in (a la My Side of the Mountain)! Yet something echoes louder than these massive cedars can absorb. Something splinters these whale-sized trunks. Something makes toothpicks out these giant trunks. It is the voice of the Lord.
God speaks and these staggering trees stagger. God speaks and these immovable trees move. God speaks and the Cedars of Lebanon bend like grass in a breeze. God speaks and these cedars are reduced to pencil shavings. And yet, if this imagery does not content you, if you want greater displays of power, then consider the mountains of Lebanon.
If we read further in Psalm 29, we see not only does God’s voice shake the cedars of Lebanon, but it also shakes the very mountains on which these trees grow. In verse six, we read, “He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.” Lebanon and Sirion represent mountains. Lebanon is a region of mountains and Sirion is another name for Mt. Hermon. When God speaks, not only do tall trees shatter, but massive mountains leap! They move and skip. They bounce and jump around in the most absurd and unhindered way.
I hike. I’ve seen many mountains, and I can tell you mountains don’t move. I’ve seen trees sway in a storm. I’ve seen the splintered remains of a lightning-struck tree. I can kind of get my head around that. But mountains leaping like calves? That’s a power I’ve never seen first hand, but that is the power of the word of the Lord. The Lord speaks and the Andes totter. The Lord speaks and Clingman’s Dome does a backflip.
If this is the power of God’s word, then how precious is God’s word! If God’s word can control uncontrollable nature, then how great is that word! If His word holds this power, then I want his word in my life. I want it in my heart and in my head. I want it taped to my doorway. I wanted posted on my dashboard. I want it scribbled on my notebook. Why? Because not only is His word true, but His word has the power to deliver on its promises.
God speaks “Let there be light” and there is light. That is the authority and power of His word. But listen. That same authority and power is active when Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The word that fells trees also gives rest. That same authority and power is also active when Paul writes, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The same word that makes mountains leap also makes hearts calm and still. God’s word has the power to do what it says.
We then cling to God’s written word because it is true in a way that nothing else is true. We cling to the Bible because it gives the diagnosis and the cure. We cling to the scriptures because they contain promise and life. This is wholly unique.
A coach may say follow me and I will make you a superstar. But he cannot necessarily make it so. His words ring hollow. A politician may say vote for me and I will change this country for good, but he cannot guarantee it. He utters empty promises, as well-meaning as they may be. But God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11), and it will be so. You can bank your life on it. The same word that splinters Redwoods and shakes Mt. Everest is the same word that secures ultimate peace.
Let us cling to God’s word.