Sunday, February 2, 2014

Restoring Respect and Awe for God

"When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”

This has to be among the top ten favorites stories for me in the Bible.  This happened when the conniving, scheming Jacob ran away from his furious brother because he had stolen his blessing of the firstborn.  But God saw in Jacob the con artist, a heart that hungered for His blessings, and so He graciously gave him a dream of angels climbing and descending a staircase to heaven.

When Jacob awakes in the middle of the wilderness, he is a changed man.  He is filled with awe and reverence, and sees the vast wasteland around him as a holy place, the house of God, the gate of heaven! From that moment on, Jacob is a man of faithfulness to God, a man of honesty and a clean heart.  A man filled with reverence for God, is a man that God can empower to change the world.

God renamed Jacob, Israel, who fathered the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel, from where our Savior and Lord Jesus came to save the entire world.  That alone shows the power that comes from a life of sincere reverence for God.

What people commonly consider to be "reverent" means walking around with a long face, speaking in religious sounding terms and basically being a boring snob.  Of course the devil would love to paint the most powerful attitude of submission to God in that light, so no one would be attracted to it.  But reverence can take on many forms.  God is the inventor of all pleasure and joy, as CS Lewis has noted in his Screwtape Letters, but there is no true joy without utter respect for God as God.  There can be no pleasure without a hatred and disgust for sin.  There can be no power without a total surrender and willingness to serve, merely because He deserves to be served.  But with respect and awe, come joy, pleasure, power, victory, peace, and all things good that come from our Father above.

The Temple of God in the Bible was a constant reminder that sin is evil and that His people need to live in a constant state of repentance.  How about now?  Too many people that I have come to know repent only when they are caught red-handed.  But people who live in the power of God, are constantly repenting and constantly reminding themselves that they are weak, and the God who loves them is strong to deliver them.

The Temple was also a constant reminder that the presence of God is so awesome that when anything defiled or evil approaches Him, that thing is burned up and destroyed.  Not because God is cruel and has no love, but because God is such a pure and powerful love, that evil cannot exist in His presence.

When you kneel down to pray, or even pause in the middle of your day on your job, do you realize that you are in the presence of an awesome and fearful God?  When you walk into your church every week and see the same bulletin board, the same kids class teachers, the same seats and carpeting, do you remind yourself that you are actually stepping inside the very house of God? The very gate of heaven?

Watch this video and think about how we need to recapture that sense of holy awe for the God who has given His life for us.

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