Monday, February 1, 2010

Awesome...

Long Beach, WA
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." 17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."

Awesome...what a word!  It used to have meaning, and it still has meaning, but I'm becoming more aware of how we use and mis-use this word.  As far as I can tell, this passage in Genesis 28 is the first time the word "awesome" is used in the Bible.  So what does it mean?  First, I'm not a Hebrew scholar by any stretch, but I did do some digging, and here are some notes I gathered (using Logos Bible Software).  The english word "awesome" in our Genesis 28 passage, comes from the Hebrew word "yare."  Look at these notes on this Hebrew word;

3372 יָרֵא, יָרֵא [yare’ /yaw·ray/] v. translates as “fear” 188 times, “afraid” 78 times, “terrible” 23 times, “terrible thing” six times, “dreadful” five times, “reverence” three times, “fearful” twice, “terrible acts” once, and translated miscellaneously eight times.  Definitions: 1 to fear, revere, be afraid. 2 to stand in awe of, be awed. 3 to fear, reverence, honour, respect. 1b2 to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe. 1b3 to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe.

Our english word "awesome" means "expressive of awe" or "inspiring awe" which isn't a big help until you know what the word "awe" means - 1 : an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.


So what's my point with all of this?  Hang in there, I'm getting to the point.  First, I have to recognize how often I mis-use this word;  "That was an awesome song," or "an awesome game," or "that sub-sandwich I ate was awesome."  Do I really mean, "Wow, that sub-sandwich was so good it made me feel dread, veneration and wonder inspired by the sublime"?    Do I really mean "that football game was so good, I hold it in awe, in dread and reverance"?  Of course not! That's ridiculous.

Now on the flip-side, what if I said "that sunrise was so absolutely stunning, it was awesome - it gave me a sense of wonder and awe, and I suddenly felt reverent as the colors moved across the expanse of the sky."  Now we're getting somewhere.  Or if I said "God, Jehova, is surely awesome.  I love Him, fear Him, revere Him, and my relationship with Him fills me with wonder, mystery, and awe."  Now we're really tracking.

What's my point?  I think I'm on a one-man mission to recapture certain words...words like "awesome."  Someone once said "if everything's important, nothing is important."  In a similar way, if we use powerful words like "awesome" to describe everyday things, then the word loses it's power.

God is Awesome
His creation is Awesome

Today, in your day, look for an "awesome" moment...and then, and only then, use the word.

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