Fearing the presence of God

After writing the post yesterday about being the righteousness of God in Christ, I was settled in my heart and mind that I was where I needed to be in my relationship with God.  Then about 4:10 AM CST, I was woken up by thunder that was so loud and lightning that followed, that it felt that the heavens were opening up and I had a reminder of the power of His presence.  I was going to write about this fear of His presence, and I opened up my Bible to find the notes, and the first verse I opened up to was, “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?  For You are holy.  For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been made manifested.”  Revelation 15:4

This word for fear in the Greek is phobeo, which we get the word, phobia from, but in this verse it means to revere, or to regard with awe.  But I think this meaning to revere and to regard with awe, actually cannot accurately describe the way that God should be feared.  He is so holy, and majestic, and powerful, that no one can stand in His presence.

When John had the vision of Jesus in Revelation in vs. 1:17, he could not stand in His presence. “And when I saw Him,” he says, “I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.”  This word afraid, is the same word phobeo, but with a different meaning, and it means to be “seized with alarm”.

God was and is so holy, that in Exodus, God told Moses, that the children of Israel could not see Him face to face because they would not be able to stand in His presence.

Exodus 19:10-13 examines this –

10 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.” 

Then the third day it happened (it was a three day journey to get from one side of Israel to the other, and when people went on a journey it always took three days) –

16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain[a] quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. 20 Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 
21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the LORD, and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” 
23 But Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 
24 Then the LORD said to him, “Away! Get down and then come up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest He break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.

When God was speaking the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 people were still afraid of God’s presence:

The People Afraid of God’s Presence (biblegateway NKJV)

18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” 
20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

So even Moses was telling them not to be afraid.  The Presence of God is so holy, that the only way He could directly communicate and to have that relationship with the people was to send Jesus down and tear down that veil of separation between God and man that was stolen in the Garden of Eden.  Before Adam and Eve sinned, we can figure that the LORD God was in the habit of walking in the Garden with them in the cool of the day.  It’s very interesting that I just noticed, but in Genesis 2, it says that on the seventh day God rested and sanctified it and blessed it, and in the very next chapter Adam and Eve sinned.  You may ask, “Where was God when Adam and Eve sinned?”  This is just my opinion, but I think that God was resting when Adam and Eve sinned, but He was completely aware of what they were doing.  He was leaving them alone to test them.  So after they sinned, they hid from His Presence, and the LORD God, actually said, “Who told you, you were naked?”  That’s when the fear of God actually came into the picture.  Before that they were in communion with God, and all was good.

We know from the Bible that before the foundation of the world, that Jesus was already slain, in His Father’s heart, and that He had to humble Himself, as it says in Hebrews, so that He could be in the presence of men.  So how are we, as fellow men, supposed to fear the Lord, knowing that He is holy?  It is because Jesus shed His blood that we can enter into His Presence because He has torn the veil of separation.  Before that only the high priest could enter the temple once every year and that was on Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.

So reflecting on my reaction to the thunder and the lightning it was very similar to the Israelites, but it was different in one regard, that I realized the power, awe, majesty of His Presence, but I was thankful that I still have a relationship with Him and that I know Him and that His blood makes it so that I don’t have to be afraid.  In Exodus when the Angel of Death passed by the homes, the Angel say the blood on the door posts of the homes and did not go and kill the people who had the blood on the door posts.  When we have the Blood of Jesus on our hearts, the LORD sees the blood, and remembers our sins no more.

If it seems that the message changed from beginning to the end it is because I know that even though God is holy and a God to be feared, because He loves me, I fear Him for His awesomeness, and I desire not to sin because who would ever want to be in a place of the wrath of a Holy God?