Seven Epithets: 5. 4 El Hannora (אל הנורא) Awesome God
Sometimes, something can happen – an experience of God’s love for us; a view of an aspect of God’s creation; an answer to prayer as God speaks to us – that stops us in our tracks. It is hard to process, to grasp and contain, yet we know it is of God. It fills us with a sense of wonder at God; of love for Him as He loves us; of gratitude to Him as we realise the price He has paid for our salvation; of how small we are as we look beyond the conceit of our own significance; of fear as we catch a glimpse of some of His power and might. Truly, He is awesome.
We can only relate and describe such events, and hope that our listener understands something of what we are trying to get across. I remember the sense of how vast God is when as a child I stared at the stars, and realised how big the universe must be, how small the earth is and how tiny I was. I remember the feeling of completion and deep, pure love when I realised that my wife (then my girlfriend) really, truly (madly, even) loved me; that God had set us together. And I remember the feeling of elation on my bike, completing l’Etape du Tour de France – that first one when I did not know what to expect, was utterly emptied by the effort in the heat on the final climb, prayed for the Holy Spirit to help and just felt lifted as on eagle’s wings … and a split second after experiencing that ‘lift’, my wife texted to my bike computer:
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary … (Isaiah 40:31)
That. That sense of God’s power that stops you, overwhelms you in love and invites you to lean into Him. That is to experience something of El Hannora, awesome God.
Nehemiah related to El Hannora – an expression of this great, awesome and loving Father:
Now therefore, our God, the great God, El Hannora, who keeps his covenant of love (Nehemiah 9:32)
And Nehemiah had been brought to this moment by the ‘Big God – Little everything else’ imagery which stopped him in his tracks, for just before that he had written:
You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:6)
‘Hannora’ is linked to the word for ‘fear’ but this shows something of our respect for the mighty God, not terror of Him, for after all:
“Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … (Proverbs 9:10)
Be in awe of God, not terrified. He is with us and all else is less than Him, so do not fear.
Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is El Hanorra. (Deuteronomy 7:21)
[from Timothy Pitt]