Summary: God does come to us. He comes with divine retribution, meaning he comes to make things right for us and with us. I want to give you three good reasons to be ready.
What Happens When God Comes to Us?
Pastor Jim Luthy
"Be strong." "Don’t be afraid." "Your God will come." These were the encouraging words that the Lord instructed Isaiah to tell the people who were floundering in the wilderness of judgment and exile.
James also encouraged us: "Come near to God and he will come near to you."
John the Baptist was a little less encouraging and a little more direct: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
What do you think when you hear these words of the prophets? Do you get excited about God coming near? Afraid? Isaiah said, "Your God will come." Is that a promise or a threat? What happens when God comes to us? As we look at that question, I think the answer will make you hungrier than ever to come near to God and have him come near to you.
As a young adult I worked at a health club selling memberships. That job was high pressure. We were under great pressure to sell, meaning our customers were under great pressure to buy. We made used car salesmen look like philanthropists. The sales manager for our region was a power lifter named Craig. Craig was very big and very intimidating. I would be spending time waltzing around the club, visiting with the members, and Craig would call the receptionist. She would mouth to me, "It’s Craig," and I would run off like a puppy with its tail between its legs as though Craig could see through the phone and would come through the phone line and grab me by the throat and fire me because I wasn’t in my office making cold calls. He scared me. He scared our whole staff. He actually fired one of our sales guys when he visited our club because the guy smelled bad. When we knew Craig was coming, we were ready for him. We would have phone calls lined up, tours scheduled, and pre-arranged sales ready to close while he was there. Why? Because we feared Craig.
There is a place for fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord alerts us to be ready. It is reflected in John the Baptists message, "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" and also in Amos’ warning to Israel, "prepare to meet your God." But fear is not the whole of the story. It makes us alert but it does not motivate us to desire his coming. John the Baptist preached repentance because he knew that God’s message was not that he wants us to live in fear of him like we lived in fear of Craig. He wants us to be ready so that we can enjoy him. We can’t enjoy him if we are ignoring him or disobeying him or dishonoring him with our sin. So we are called to repent not only to avoid his anger, but beyond that, to delight in his goodness, his holiness, and his everlasting love for us.
It is not what happens when a frightening God comes near that makes us want him to come. It is what happens when the love and power of God comes to us that makes us hunger and thirst for him. And the promise is clear that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. God does come to us. He comes with divine retribution, meaning he comes to make things right for us and with us. I want to give you three good reasons to be ready.
The first thing we look forward to when God comes near is healing. Isaiah says, "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy." The gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give one report after another of people that were healed by God in the flesh. Blind men. Crippled men. Even a dead man was raised when God came near in the person of Jesus.
After Jesus ascended into heaven and God came to the early church as the Holy Spirit, accounts of people being healed continued. Throughout history, whenever revival came to a city or country, these revivals were marked by accounts of people being physically healed. During the early part of what Tony Cauchi describes as the 5th Great Awakening from 1880 onwards, which featured the ministry of D.L. Moody, C.T. Studd, and Andrew Murray, God came near to Christian & Missionary Alliance founder A.B. Simpson. Simpson was miraculously healed of a chronic heart disorder during a vacation at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. With that experience, Simpson ensured that the good news of healing was part of the whole gospel message we proclaim. We ought not reject that message now.