Summary: Should we fear God? Many of us have been brought up in a Christian climate where the fear of God is missing. We like to think of the nice comfortable side of God but not His fearful awesome side. Here is just a small insight into the awesomeness of God.
Jacobs Ladder - How awesome is this place!
Verse 17 “And he was afraid, and said, How fearful is this place! This is nothing but the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven!” (Modern King James Version)
How awesome is this place!
The Fear of God came on him. The Holiness of the presence of God should make us all tremble as we become aware of our condition.
We like a God who is comfortable and palatable like a friend we can introduce to our friends and neighbours. We like the side of God that is loving, gracious, merciful, forgiving, tender, gentle, comfortable, friendly etc
But there is a bigger picture - God is awesome, a consuming fire, Holy, a judge, just, to be feared,
As this year is progressing I am seeing God in a new light – I am becoming more and more aware of His awesomeness. His holiness that expects purity in His church, His justice that convicts of sin, He is a Consuming Fire that burns up the rubbish.
It is not a comfortable picture of God but it is God all the same.
Where does the true fear of God come from? It comes from the knowledge of our own sinfulness and a sense of the presence of God. Jacob sensed this and so did Isaiah
He had an intense experience of his personal uncleanness and of the awesome presence of God: the two were more than he could stand. On his face he cried out a confession of his own sinfulness, made all the more intolerable because his eyes had seen the King, even the Lord of Hosts.
In the thinking of the day if you saw God you died. Isaiah expected to die.
Isaiah said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! In modern English “Oh! I’m a goner”
He saw himself in comparison to the purity and holiness of God. He was in fear for his life. You didn’t look upon God and live.
Rope around the ankle
There is a legend that says that the High Priest when he went into the Holy of Holies had a rope tied to his ankle so that if he didn’t come out because he had seen God and died they could drag him out without anybody else going in and risking their lives. This is not found in scripture and not found in Jewish writings. But he did have bells on his garments when he went into the Holy place but not when he entered the Holy of Holies. Somebody would be outside listening to the tinkling of the bells to make sure the priest was still alive. He never wore the bells inside the Holy of Holies.
Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God. In fact, anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die. Even the high priest, God’s chosen mediator with His people, could only pass through the veil and enter this sacred dwelling once a year, on a prescribed day called the Day of Atonement.
The picture of the veil was that of a barrier between man and God, showing man that the holiness of God could not be trifled with. God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil and He can tolerate no sin (Habakkuk 1:13). The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s awesome presence. Even as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to make some meticulous preparations: He had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make atonement for sins.
Hebrews 9:7 “But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”
So the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel. However, Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross changed that. When He died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom. Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it. (The Jerusalem temple, a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, had a curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick.) Furthermore, it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above.
As the veil was torn, the Holy of Holies was exposed. God’s presence was now accessible to all.