Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Touch of Grace

If you want to know what God's grace feels like, all you need to do is put your feet on the ground.  Feel the earth pushing up against your weight?  That's God's grace.

If you don't believe me, ask Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.  Their fateful story is in Numbers 16.  They didn't think they needed a mediator.  They thought they could approach God directly, without help from Moses and Aaron's family (who served as mediators at that time).  So they launched a movement to make all Israelites priests with direct access to the sacred tent in which God revealed Himself.
...they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown. They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?" (Numbers 16:2-3, NASB)
But when we look at ourselves, haven't we felt the same way as Korah?  We think we're good enough to come into God's presence on our own.  Or if we've done something bad, we believe we can "atone" for it by asking forgiveness, not doing it again, and being generally nice to people.  We don't think we need a mediator.  But what did God think of Korah's idea? 
...the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, "The earth may swallow us up!" Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.  (vv 31-35, NASB)
Yes, we do need a mediator.  Our deeds of piety can never atone for past actions of rebellion against God any more than driving under the speed limit can atone for driving over the speed limit.  The penalty for our crimes against our Creator must be paid.  Being swallowed by the earth is a fitting symbol of the terror that we deserve in hell.  Here's what American pastor Jonathan Edwards said:
Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff on the summer threshing floor.
Yesterday's sinkhole in Guatemala City is a sobering reminder that we should not be surprised when we see a sinkhole.  We should be surprised that we do not see one beneath our feet.  When we feel the earth hold us up, it is God's mercy we feel. Yes, we need a mediator.  God has provided one.  And only one.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time. -- 1 Timothy 2:5-6, NIV
 Don't wait.  Turn to Jesus today in repentance and trust!

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