In God’s Presence — Fear & Delight
Does the reality of the presence of the LORD frighten you? Thrill you? Maybe both, as though, “Yes, I have reverence, but also some fear?”
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
– Genesis 3:8, ESV
At one point Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden. Now they hide from the same God in the same garden. Is this unusual? A unique case?
No. Not at all.
Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
– Genesis 4:16, ESV
When sin violates a pure and holy relationship with Yahweh, the people hide, or run in shame. You’ll notice that it was not God who ran away or hid. God was looking for Adam and Eve in the garden.
Read it again and note how it is God who calls out to Adam.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
– Genesis 3:8–9, ESV
I would argue that, today, most Christ-followers do not hide from God. Rather, we actively, deliberately call out to God for a greater sense of his presence. We cry out saying things like, “Be near me. Let me feel you near me. Let me know you’re here.”
Michael W. Smith wrote an entire song (Draw Me Close) on this very subject. It includes such lines as, “Draw me close to You. Never let me go,” and “[I want to] feel the warmth of your embrace.” How unlike the hiding and running of Adam, Eve, and Cain. How are we to account for such a dramatic difference?
Sin and Separation
Sin always results in separation. Sin separates us from God and sin separates us from one another.
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
– Isaiah 59:1–2, ESV
The problem is not with God. His hand is fine. His ear is fine. The problem is with me.
My sins made the separation between me and God. My sin destroyed intimacy and drove me from his presence. My sin against you does the same thing. It destroys intimacy and drives us from one another’s presence. Sin destroys everything it touches.
But for those who are in Christ, those for whom there is now no condemnation for sin,¹ neither is there separation. Whereas Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden, for the Christ-follower, we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us.² That is an even greater intimacy than what Adam and Eve enjoyed. And soon comes the day when we will see Jesus face to face and enjoy him forever.³ For humanity to be once again in his presence is fullness of joy.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
– Psalm 16:11, ESV
Most, however, will reject this opportunity to rest in the presence of God. Most will chose the wide gate leading away from him.⁴ By choosing the wide gate away from God, men and women are choosing to be banned eternally from his presence. This is a sobering reality! Speaking of this, the apostle Paul said:
… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
– 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9, ESV
Seek God now while he may be found. All those who seek him will find him when they seek him with all their heart.⁵
As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
– 2 Corinthians 6:1–2, NIV-1978
Blessings upon you, my friends.
Victoriously in Christ!
1. Romans 8:1
2. John 14:17
3. 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 John 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:17
4. Matthew 7:14
5. Jeremiah 29:13