The gap or distance between us and the Lord is millions of miles apart, according to some with the worldly view of spiritual things. They say that God sits on his heavenly cloud and just watches us, not intervening on anyone’s behalf. They say He allows the floods to kill, the famines to starve, the hurricanes to destroy, and the evil to run rampant. They ask, “Where is God? Why is he so impersonal?”
I say the gap between us and God is much smaller. True, He is in heaven on his throne, but He is also amongst us, and His Spirit is within us.
Even when He performs undeniable miracles, with the sole purpose of sparing lives and saving people from slavery and certain death, people still choose to stay aloof and distance themselves from God other than be drawn in closer. To make matters worse, it is usually God’s own people that choose to stay aloof and distant; those that take on the namesake of Jesus Christ and call themselves Christians, are the guilty ones.
Prime example from the Old Testament is the Israelites after the Lord led them safely out of the land of Egypt. He personally led them by day in a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire. He was among them. Then He parted the Red Sea for all to see His hands in their lives. The Lord followed that with water from a rock, and quail in the wilderness for dinner, and manna from heaven for breakfast. He used Joshua and his men to conquer the warring army of Amalek. God was actively among his people.
After all of this, He led them from the wilderness to meet with Him at Mt. Sinai. The Lord was willing to reveal his glory to them and let the Israelites hear his voice.
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe forever.'”
“Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire…And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder…And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods…”
“Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightening and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off…
Moses said, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.’
The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.”
Exodus 20:18, 20
Granted, meeting the Almighty God, the “I AM” in this way would be terrifying, so the Israelites’ reaction to all of this is somewhat understandable. Even so, they continued to respond to Him by remaining distant, even going so far as making a fake golden god and worshipping it instead. In spite of God being on that mountain, right in front of them that they saw every day, they acted upon their own doubts and ambitions with the hopes of gaining another god’s attention.
As Christians, we are often aloof and distant from God, looking to other means for approval or wisdom, and deny the Lord access to our heart. We doubt the hand of God or the timing of God, therefore we take matters into our hands. Our fears tend to override our faith, just as the Israelites’ did. They were afraid to have that personal encounter with God at the mountain, so they asked Moses to speak to them instead of the Lord. They stood back, withholding themselves from a deeper personal relationship with their Redeemer.
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”
1 John 4:13
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Our faith over fear, which grows deeper and stronger every day that we live it out, can be one of the greatest tools we have to use for witnessing to the world that still stands far off in doubt of God. We know the short distance between the Lord and ourselves, and that He is within reach of all people. We know that Jesus is the one that bridged that gap for us to know our Father. We know because He has placed his Spirit within us, and has given us the wisdom to recognize these truths: that are written in his Word, that He speaks to us regularly in life, that are evident throughout his creation.
“Now therefore if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Food for thought: Have you kept the Lord at a distance lately? Have you felt him drawing you closer? Do you believe that God is so personal that He had his Son die on your behalf?
Fun facts: “We talk about heaven being so far away. It is within speaking distance to those who belong there. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” Dwight L. Moody
“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” Robert Southey
“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” Anonymous
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Mount Hood