Numbers 3:10 “Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death.”
If we aren’t aware of this verse we don’t understand just how revolutionary the New Covenant is. When we do understand, a very familiar verse becomes earth-shaking. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) This was the meaning of the veil of the temple being torn from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross. (Matthew 27:51) That had to be initiated from the top, from God, because man certainly didn’t have the authority to do it. We tend to forget the absolute holiness of God, and so think stories like the death of Aaron’s two older sons indicate a capricious, vengeful God. That was no more capricious and vengeful than the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. God is indeed “slow to anger,” (Exodus 34:6) but sometimes we need strong object lessons to teach us just what a big deal it is that God allows us access to Him at all. That access is a precious thing and is to be enjoyed to the fullest, but at the same time it must not be taken lightly. The same book of the Bible that talks about coming boldly before the throne of grace also says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Jonathan Edwards’ message based on that verse sparked the revival that is called The Great Awakening. America needs such a revival today!
I have never been much of a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher, but I must not ignore the reality of God’s holiness and our accountability before Him. This past Sunday’s message, delivered by my assistant pastor, was a strong one about hating everything else in comparison to Christ. I knew it would be that way as soon as I saw his root Scripture, Luke 14:25-27. That’s not a bad thing! I need to keep God’s holiness clear in my own heart and mind and I must not skip over it in my teaching and preaching. The biggest danger for me is the all-too-accurate proverb about familiarity breeding contempt. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about God, and I have always known Him as love. (1 John 4:8) I must remember that genuine love disciplines, sometimes severely. The grace of God comes to mean very little when we take it for granted, and I must not do that.
Father, thank You indeed for Your grace. Help me grasp its reality more and more through grasping Your holiness more and more. Help me lead more and more people before Your throne, not presumptuously but in humility and gratitude and joy, so that all of Your plans for us may be fulfilled, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!