There are many things in this world that can be hazardous to the health of humans. Some of those things can even be found right under our noses. For instance, did you know that there are things in your house that can be extremely toxic to your health, even causing death? From the thermostats on our walls and the thermometers in our bathrooms, to the batteries in your TV remote, to the glue your child used for his rainy day project, to the asbestos insulation that used to wrap around your plumbing, to the chemicals in the fire extinguisher that is there to help save your life in case of a fire, to the radon fumes coming up through your basement, to the lead paint that may or may not be on your walls, we dwell in death traps! All of these objects are common, everyday items that most of us may have in abundance, but in all seriousness they are hazardous to our health. Now, before you pack up and trade in the death trap you call a home for a tent out in the woods somewhere, let me make you aware of an even greater hazard that seems to get overlooked…a lot.
In the beginning…
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In six days, whether literal (Ken Ham, young earth) or figurative (Hugh Ross, old earth), God created everything that was to be created for the existence of the pinnacle of His creation, which was man. As God created the light to divide the light from the darkness, He also created the expanse in the midst of the waters to separate the waters from the waters. Furthermore, He created dry land upon which He caused all of the vegetation to sprout, including all plants and trees that bear their own seed for regeneration. God continued to create two great lights in the expanse of the heavens, one to light the day and one to light the night, so that the swarms of creatures of the air, land, and sea would have seasons and days and years. In the midst of all of this preparation that was good, God finally reached the culmination of His goodness and brought forth the pinnacle of His creation; the unique creature who was created in His image, mankind. And God blessed them and charged them with the responsibility of upholding His image by having dominion over the creatures of the earth.
“God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31 (NASB95)
This world that the first parents occupied was a safe place. It was free from the hazards and toxins that produce the radical health concerns of our modern world. It was a world where they were free to be exactly who God had created them to be, without the worry of traffic accidents or old age or black mold. They were at liberty to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to, however they wanted to do it, all without any kind of harmful consequences for their actions! Well, almost none. There was that tree that God commanded them to stay away from, which they failed to do.
Broken Covenant, Broken Lives
What a sad story. Every time I read the first three chapters of Genesis, it breaks my heart all over again. I always find myself going through a certain amount of inner turmoil, saying, “What if they hadn’t given in to temptation? Just think of all the pain and misery that could have been avoided.” And then the reply, “But God had a good plan for His creation because Jesus was ready even before the foundations of the world to ransom His creation.” So a deep trust in the Lord for His infinite wisdom is required as the account of creation is contemplated.
We trust Him, even as we see that the good relationship that mankind had with Him suddenly changed as a result of sin. Instead of God being the omnibenevolent friend of Adam and Eve, He suddenly shows up in a storm cloud of wrath and fury causing them to scramble and hide. (Note – I believe the perception of the “cool of the day” in Genesis 3:8 as a picture of the nice, peaceful relationship experienced between God and man in a pristine Eden is probably inaccurate and needs to be rethought; the Hebrew phrase more accurately suggests this is a picture of the coolness that floods the atmosphere preceding a summer thunderstorm which causes a drop in the temperature just before the violence of the storm is unleashed; this harmonizes better with the picture of God’s wrath as He approached Adam and Eve; it also is more compatible with the ‘cloud symbolism’ as seen throughout the rest of scripture as a picture of judgment, especially by the prophets. – Chad)
Now, because of the influence of sin upon the relationship between God and man, God has become dangerous!
A Dangerous God
The story of Adam and Eve on that fateful day is not the last story of mankind’s run-in with the dangerous God of creation. For instance, more than a few years later, as humanity has successfully been fruitful and multiplied themselves over the face of the earth, wickedness has also been fruitful and multiplied itself through the hearts and lives of God’s once good but now corrupt pinnacle of creation. The scripture makes another very sad statement concerning mankind, saying,
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Genesis 6:5–6 (NASB95)
As a result of sin, we find a holy, all-powerful God who is dangerously opposed to creation; threatening their very existence.
“The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”” Genesis 6:7 (NASB95)
As in the days of Noah, when God and sin come face to face with one another, something must yield. And it will not be God. When the holiness of God and the unholiness of man are at odds with one another, sin will lose to judgment every time. In a situation where sin stands in the middle of God’s path, He is not going to be the one to relinquish His position. When darkness seems to have the upper hand, we must understand that God dwells in unapproachable light, in fact, a light that the darkness can’t even comprehend.
“For no man can see Me and live…”
Moses was a unique character in the Old Testament. He knew the depth of the sinful heart first hand, but yet, he also had a deep desire to pursue the Holy One. In fact, this desire took him to the place where he actually wanted to see God! While he didn’t always get things right in his walk with God and the leadership of God’s people, one certainly has to admire his tenacity to chase after the Lord.
After the Israelites left Egypt, Moses used to meet with God in his tent outside the camp. Whenever he would enter the tent, scripture says that the pillar of cloud would descend upon it and stand at the entrance to the tent. It was at this time that the the Lord would speak with Moses. During one of these times, Moses prayed to the Lord, saying, “Show me Your glory!”
Now I am sure that the Lord was honored by this request, just as I am sure that Moses was sincere. But the response that Moses received was probably not at all what he was expecting.
“And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”” Exodus 33:19–20 (NASB95)
What a disappointment! What a letdown! What sadness! What a terror! The good thing that Moses had requested was shot down by the Lord. Not only was his request denied, but He also gave him a glimpse of how dangerous He was! And we are left wondering why. Why was Moses denied seeing the face of God, and why did God say what He said? It is simply because of sin. Sin has corrupted God’s good creation and human nature to the degree that man would simply die if they were exposed to the fullness of God. The point being, because of sin, the Lord is dangerous!
Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!
But that is not the end of the story. In the merciful providence of God, by the New Covenant established in Jesus’ blood, we have been given the answer to Moses’ request…we will see the face of God along with all of His goodness. While our ability to see the Lord face-to-face is a reality yet future, it is a reliable future just the same.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” 1 John 3:2 (NASB95)
This is made possible only through the gracious work of Jesus Christ, who reconciled a sin-saturated humanity with an almighty, holy God who hates sin. God made Him who knew no sin, to be a sin sacrifice for us so that we may become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. In Christ, we become the righteousness of God, shedding off our old person of sin and evil. Where there was no way, God made a way for us to be reconciled and brought into fellowship with Him again. For this inexpressible gracious gift, we give abundant thanks.
I love the imagery that C.S. Lewis uses in his Chronicles of Narnia series where Aslan the lion is portrayed as a type of Christ figure. In the first book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the question is asked whether Aslan is a safe lion or not. I love the startling reply.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”
I think this is a fitting analogy to describe our God. Because of our sin, He isn’t safe. But He is good. And in His goodness we are afforded mercy. But may we never forget that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
If we were to ask the question, “To what extent is the Lord dangerous to us today?” The answer would be, “To the extent that we practice sin.” Remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira who intentionally lied to the Holy Spirit and lost their lives because of it? Remember the warnings to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation that predicted God’s wrath unless they repented and returned to their first love? Remember the admonition of John, who stated that those who insist on practicing sin are of the devil and Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil? God is very dangerous to those who seek to establish themselves as professional practitioners of sin. But to those who receive Him, God gave them the right to become children of God, even those who believe in His name.
This is all very strong and graphic language which states the seriousness of the consequences of sin. If we insist on abiding in sin, then the only thing there is to look forward to is a terrifying expectation of judgment.
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26–27 (NASB95)
But on the other hand, if we cling to Jesus Christ, we have the promise of God for hope and deliverance from judgment; having passed out of death into life. As Jesus said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24 (NASB95)
Therefore, in Christ, we are given stern warnings from scripture, such as this one:
“… at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:10–13 (NASB95)
Given the eternal consequences that are at stake, the fact that all creatures will bow and confess Him as Lord in the near future, scripture time and time again warns us to remain on the narrow path that leads to life. And honestly, I don’t think the scriptures are kidding, because the Lord is not safe…but He is good!
“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:17–19 (NASB95)