Hebrews 10:30-31 “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
American history, more specifically, American Christian History recounts the famous sermon by Pastor Jonathan Edwards; “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Preached July 7th, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut; this was the second time he had preached this sermon. First, in his own church in Northampton, Massachussets; it was received with no great outpouring or salvations.
Revival was sweeping through this newly formed nation. Men like George Whitfield were traveling throughout the east coast seeing literally, hundreds and thousands come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But on this day, he preached to a group of people known to be resistant to the gospel as the Great Awakening was occurring all around them.
It is said that he never finished the sermon.
People began to cry out for God to have mercy on them. Many weeping loudly, drowning out the preacher’s words. It reached not only those in the church but those outside began to be touched by this movement of the Holy Spirit throughout the crowd.
This great movement of the Holy Spirit began to light a fire that spread throughout all the colonies. But, as I read – “…It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” I thought “Do people even fear God today?” moreover – “Does the church; we who are saved, fear God as we ought?”
I know that growing up, I feared my father’s wrath. Not that he had a temper, but he did not tolerate disrespect or disobedience. Each instance that I crossed that line, I received correction. I learned, in time, that he did it because he loved me – not because he took some twisted pleasure in hurting his children. My Dad learned from our Heavenly Father:
Hebrews 12:5-6 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
I have come to know that as my love for God grows, my desire to please Him grows with it. I have come to learn that God is not this vengeful, sour old man waiting to cast his thunderbolts of death on those who step over the line. No, He draws us to Himself. He places obstacles to hedge our way TO Him and His presence – not away from Him.
The dichotomy between reading of the earth opening and swallowing Korah, his family, his followers and their families:
Numbers 16:32-33 “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.”
To the great outpouring at Pentecost that saw thousands saved.
Those hands spoken of in Hebrews – the hands of the living God – hold such love and justice at the same time. But the fear spoken of here is one of respect for the potential they hold; not cringing; waiting for the other shoe to drop. Knowing that my God is both Judge and Savior brings comfort to my soul.
My sins were judged at the cross. They will never be brought up again to be judged, or have a penalty associated with it. Jesus’ love for me placed that upon Himself to bear what I couldn’t lift; to pay when I had nothing to give.
The chastening or correction I receive here on this earth is nothing to compare to the fire and eternal damnation reserved as punishment and payment for sin. So, those hands to me are hands of love – even if they come to correct me.
Dear reader, enjoy this season. Take the time to reflect ont he fact that those we will be sharing the holiday with are in need of a Savior as well. We have the most wonderful oopportunity to share the gospel with those around us because it is His birthday we are celebrating.