Approaching God Appropriately

Mountains are majestic and awe inspiring.  The Israelites once stood before the mountain of God in the book of Exodus.  They were terrified because the presence of God was on that mountain.  They could not touch it.  They could not go near it.  Even animals that wandered onto the mountain were to be stoned because God’s holy presence could not be approached.  Look at what verse 21 says:

The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” – Hebrews 12:21 (NIV)

You and I, when we gather with other Christians as the church, approach a different mountain.  It is not a mountain of fear.  We do not have to be trembling and terrified as we approach God.  Jesus died to do away with terror when it comes to our relationship with God.  He is not out to “get us.”  He is not in the business of pouring out His wrath on us.  I love what the author and radio personality Steve Brown once said.  He said something to the effect that God has no more wrath for you because He poured out all of His wrath on His Son, Jesus, on the cross.  Did you hear that?  God is not angry with you.  God is not biding His time until the day that He can smite you for stepping out of line one too many times.  He will discipline us as we saw on Friday in the first part of Hebrews 12.  But His discipline is far different from His wrath.  His discipline is for our benefit.  It is for our good.  It is gentle and corrective.  Not punitive and painful.  It is never fun to be disciplined, but it is for our best.
This does not mean that we can approach God flippantly.  Look at what the last two verses of Hebrews 12 say:

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 12:28-29 (NIV)

We must worship God with reverence and awe for He is a “consuming fire.”  God is good and kind and loving and gentle, but He is still God.  We should approach Him to worship Him, not in fear and terror, but with reverence and awe.  So as you go to Him in prayer and worship this week, remember that He is still God and we must come to Him as He truly deserves – with reverence and awe.
Hebrews 12:14-29  (NIV)

Warning and Encouragement

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 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.”


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