I remember as a young whipper-snapper that a group of us went to Green Bay to see the Packers practice. As a little boy this was a big deal, a real cheeseheads dream. You could see the big stars practice. The players would ride in on their bikes, high five the kids, stop for autographs. I got to meet actual players. I still haven’t washed my right hand!? Thousands of people would flock around the practice field just to get a glimpse of their favorite football player. We are all excited to get a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, get a sneak peak at the summers hot new blockbuster, and more.
I wonder what would your response be to getting a glimpse of God?
1. Fear God’s Holiness (Hebrews 12:18-21)
Modern people are not accustomed to fearing God. Fearing God is something primitive people do—along with bowing down to the sun and sacrificing virgins to volcanoes.
Even Christian people are not used to fearing God. You might say, “That sounds way too Old Testament. What about the love and grace of God? After all, John says: “Perfect love casts out fear.” Fear is for the spiritually immature, right?”
There’s a tendency for modern folk to think in terms of God offering man a contract—agreement between equals. “You’re ok, I’m ok. Every thing is ok.” NOT!! Ancients did not make that mistake. The 10 Commands were like terms of a treaty—the kind made between the conqueror and the conquered. No complaining or bargaining. Accept the terms unconditionally.
SHOULD WE FEAR THE LORD?
Let’s look at what the Bible says:
- “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov.1:7; 5:21; 8:13; 9:10).
- “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc.12:13)
- “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall regard as holy. Let him be your fear, and let Him be your dread” (Isa. 8:12-13)
You say, “That’s all from the OT!” What about Phil.2:1? “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
The meaning of fearing God comes into clearer focus if we can imagine what it would be like to actually see God. This hasn’t happened too many times, but it is awesome to have an unfiltered experience with the living God! Isaiah said, “woe is me. I am a man of unclean lips,” (6:1-5) and when John saw the awesomeness of Christ and fell at His feet as a dead man (Rev.1:9-18).
When I was a kid I randomly bumped into things. My mom finally realized after multiple bruising that I needed glasses. I where glasses to see and protect me from potential danger. Fearing the Lord protects me from destruction. Sin makes me dumb. Following God is so smart.
The Bible clearly commands us to fear the Lord. It is a mixture of terror and awe, not just reverence and respect. Fear of the Lord is an appropriate response to the practical awareness of who I am before God. John Piper says, “To fear God is to view God as so powerful and awesome that I would not dare run from Him, but to Him.”
When I was in high school I took a ski-trip with my step-dad out West. We skied a lot. I have one memory that sticks out in my mind. On our last day we went to Copper Mountain (12,300ft.) We decided to take a trip to the summit. The ski lift got us close, but we still had about a half-mile climb to get to the peak. I thought I was going to die. When we got to the summit it was an amazing experience (“This is the sanctuary of God”). You could see for miles, the air was brisk, and God’s glory was awesome. I remember crying out to God. Then it dawned on me we had to go down this mountain. The only way down was to jump about a 20-foot cliff to the powdery slope. I had the feeling of terror mixed with wonder was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. This must have been something like the Israelites’ experience with the living God–terror mixed with wonder. It was something God did not want Israel to forget.
Who is your God? Is He feared? One day you will appear before this God. Every person who has ever lived will appear before Him. You think you will tell Him how you’ve been a good boy or girl; or give Him a piece of your mind for how your live went on earth. No, you will approach Him in fear and trembling. You will be there, we will all be there. This is the God we will meet. The story doesn’t end there. Ready for some good news? There is this holy God “but…”
2. Gratitude for God’s Grace (12:22-24)
The amazing grace showered on you when you come to the God:
- to Mount Zion—we may come to a literal mountain in Jerusalem that represented the heavenly Zion
- to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem—but we come to the dwelling of God.
- to innumerable angels in festal gathering—we come backed by a 10,000 x 10,0000=100,000,000 (minimum) member choir of angels in their party clothes.
- and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven—the believers, church (ecclesia), any firstborns here today? All receive a special rank and privilege. We will be “enrolled in the Book of Life (Rev.3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15) If you are not enrolled you are not there!
- and to God, the judge of all—God is there.
- to the spirits of the righteous made perfect—we will be like Christ! All that things that bug me about you, and you about me will not be there!!
- and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant—HE IS THE CENTERPIECE OF HEAVEN. We come to see the One and Only, the Supreme, who gave us the New Covenant. We come to our Savior and Redeemer.
- and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel—we come through the Atoning blood of Christ through which we have forgiveness of sins. Christ’s sacrifice was better than Abel’s (cf. Gen.4:10). Though Abel’s sacrifice (and ours) is acceptable to God because of faith—it has no atoning power (it represented judgment and vengeance). Jesus’ is (Col.1:20).
Whoohoo! That will be the day!! Are you grateful for the work of Christ? Do you know the God of Mount Zion? (1 Jn. “These things were written that you might know you have eternal life through Jesus Christ”) Do you know that you know that you know Him. Forgiveness and repentance in Christ!
How should I respond to this holiness and grace of God?
3. Worship by Total Submission (12:25-29)
My Response (v.25): I will do what He says. When He says jump, “I will say how high?”
My Response (vs.26-29): I will worship. I give my best to God, I give my first to God, I reserve the most to God. I honor Him, respect Him, awe Him. I do not walk through life casually, placing a checkmark on my fridge that I went to church today. I totally submit to Him and worship for our God is a consuming fire.
Getting a glimpse of God means…
I fear God’s holiness: Do you fear God? Does it show up in your actions?
I have gratitude for God’s grace: Are you thankful for His mercy?
I worship by total submission: Do you worship Him as a living sacrifice?