• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 65 - The Thick Darkness

Exodus 20:19-21 ASV And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die. (20) And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before you, that ye sin not. (21) And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

Heb 4:16 Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.

Hebrews 12:18-25,28,29 ASV For ye are not come unto a mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, (19) and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that no word more should be spoken unto them; (20) for they could not endure that which was enjoined, If even a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned; (21) and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: (22) but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, (23) to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (24) and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel. (25) See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not when they refused him that warned them on earth, much more shall not we escape who turn away from him that warneth from heaven...Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe: (29) for our God is a consuming fire.

For the Israelites God was scary, He was to be feared, He dwelt in the thick darkness, He sent fire from Heaven, and only through blood sacrifice could He be approached. He was best left to the priests - Moses, you go and talk with God! Such awesome spiritual power was clearly unsafe. Today we have gone to the opposite extreme, and God is portrayed not just as safe but as so "nice" that He can be approached on the most casual and flippant of terms. C.S Lewis counters this when he portrays Aslan, the Jesus figure in the Narnia novels as unsafe - but kind. This is close to the New Testament picture where God is still to be feared and seen as awesome but also approached boldly for mercy in time of need. Reverence, humility and awe before God are still required, for He is still a consuming fire.

God appeared to the Israelites and spoke with a voice of a trumpet from the mountain for a purpose "for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before you, that ye sin not. " The fear of the Lord is the foundation of holiness and a great help in times of temptation. Grace is not given so we can sin with impunity whenever we like. Grace is given so we may approach God and become holy. Sin was taken seriously - even in the New Testament and even under grace. In fact NT church discipline was so tough that we would find it impossible to implement in most churches today. (For an article on church discipline in the first century go to: http://www.aibi.ph/articles/managsin.htm) God has not changed, and the imperative "that ye sin not" is still a vital part of the Christian faith. God deals with His saints so that we will walk in His ways and be holy and blameless. This means taking His commands seriously and fearing to step outside His proper boundaries. The Almighty God prefers reverent saints to casual sinners.

When the author of Hebrews refers back to the experience on Mt. Sinai he says that we should tremble even more now than the Israelites did then, because we are dealing with higher and holier spiritual realities. The camp of Israel came to an earthly mountain but we have come to the heavenly Zion! Christians should thus be more reverent than Muslims or Jews or those in other religions for we handle holier things. Disobedience is more serious for we know more and have more direct knowledge of the Holy Spirit and the things of God. "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not when they refused him that warned them on earth, much more shall not we escape who turn away from him that warneth from heaven..." On the positive side we also have much greater spiritual authority, we can directly approach the throne of God and are greater in that respect than all the OT saints (Matthew 11:11-13). The average Christian has the authority to cast out demons with a word- which no OT saint, even the prophets, is ever recorded as doing. Since we came into the heavenly Zion things have changed in the spiritual realms, we are now placed in the heavenly realms with Christ (Ephesians 2:6) and are far above the "powers and principalities" of this world with which we now wage war (Ephesians 1:20, 6:10-18).

Christians now have direct access, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, to God (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:18, 3:12) and to His throne (Hebrews 4:12-16). We can approach the blazing mount and the God hidden in the thick darkness. We can approach the King of Kings. We are a privileged and peculiar people and this should cause us to live holy lives that are fitting for the grace in which we stand. We should not flee from the voice of God as the Israelites did, and neither should we ask a priestly caste to approach God on our behalf. Each born-again Christian has the privilege of direct access to God through faith in Jesus Christ. But neither should we become flippant with divine things , casual about sin, or fearless about disobedience. We should serve God with reverence and awe, keep our promises to Him, abide in His love and obey His commandments. This is not "salvation by works", for no work can give us such access to the throne, nor is it legalism, for no law can make us holy- but only the Spirit, rather it is simply our right service to an awesome God.


John Edmiston


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