Why to Love God Means to Fear God

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October 27, 2021

Numbers 14:5-9 (NIV)

10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

CONSIDER THIS

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)

It’s today again! ;0) 

Recovering our place in this meeting that just won’t end, Caleb has just taken his seat after giving the Braveheart speech of his life. “Maybe, just maybe,” he thinks to himself, “they will rise up and call me blessed and line up to take the hill.” If so, he could not have been more wrong. Look what happened next:

But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.

Them, in this case, were Joshua and Caleb; aka the minority report. Does the phrase, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,” ring a bell? Thank you, Jesus. 

Now the drama goes next level. Get a load of this:

Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites.

This can’t be good. I think of the glory of the Lord like a flaming diamond with infinite facets. The particular facet one sees depends on the moment they face. It could be a calming whisper, as in Elijah’s case. It could be a blazing chariot, as also in Elijah’s case. No matter the particular moment and mode of manifestation, one thing holds true—one must never assume, presume or in any way become familiar with the glorious presence of the Lord. 

There is an old saying that seems apropos for today’s text: Familiarity breeds contempt. The closer we come to power, the more familiar we tend to become with it, and the more contempt we tend to develop for it; especially if we think we have power and our power is somehow being called into question or offended. This is the prideful nature of the human heart. This is where hardness of heart comes from. These people had become familiar with God. Hear the Word of God in this light:

The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?

In case anyone was wondering, this meeting is not going well, nor is it going to end happily. Read on . . . 

I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

We humans have a tendency to want to be cozy with the God of the Universe. Because we are family we trend toward familiarity, and we know where familiarity leads: contempt. No matter how long we walk with God, no matter how far we have come, the minute we begin to lose the holy awe and fear of God we need to cover our faces, rend our hearts, and hit the floor. In fact, this familiarity that unwittingly trends toward the presumption of mercy and even grace, is the sign that our heart has become hardened and sin has, in fact, deceived us. It is a perilous place. The sign of walking closely with Jesus is that though we know we have everything in him, we take nothing for granted from him. He will be our friend, but not our “little buddy.” 

This letter to the Hebrews opens with the word on encouragement, but I want to show you where it closes. It is not a pleasant text but one we must heed for we are people of the whole counsel of God. 

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 13:28-29)

THE PRAYER

Father, thank you for letting us call you Father, and yet thank you for reminding us that you are THE ALMIGHTY GOD OF THE COSMOS, THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, THE LORD, THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE. We stand, I stand, in awe of you. I bow in trembling fear before you. And I live in holy love for you. Forgive my familiarity, my casual ways of approaching you. And yet thank you, Jesus for being my friend like no other. Come Holy Spirit and train my heart to walk well with you in this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.   

THE QUESTION

So where do you locate yourself these days on the spectrum below:

Casual Familiarity—————————————————Holy Awe, Fear & Love

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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