God’s presence can destroy

Let me continue exploring this idea of God’s holiness eventually destroying sin (and sinners). I see this illustrated in the exodus story. When the Israelites made and worshipped the golden calf, God was on the verge of killing everyone except Moses and beginning again with a new people. When Moses interceded for the people, God said:

“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” (Exodus 33:3)

Eventually God relented and accompanied the people. But this is when the tabernacle was established, with a system for cleansing the people of sin and protecting them from destruction. I think that describing this destruction as “God’s anger” is a bit of an anthropomorphism. I don’t think it’s an uncontrollable emotion that God feared would break out at any given moment. I think it’s a description of the very real fact that if God remained in close proximity to these people, the contrast between his holiness and their sinfulness could lead to their description.

God’s full presence was limited to the Holy of Holies (where he sat enthroned on the ark of the covenant). And a system of sacrifices and offerings was set up in order that that Holy of Holies could remain in proximity with the people without bringing about their destruction.

One day, we will live in the full presence of God. If our sins have not been removed/forgiven/atoned for, we will not be able to survive in that presence.

I’ve more to say, but I’d like to hear from you. Are you tracking with me? Does this make sense? Am I off base somewhere?

Thanks for the feedback!

One thought on “God’s presence can destroy

  1. Andrew

    Tim,
    I like your thoughts. I think we (Americans) tend to read Scripture egocentricly and make the stories about us. So, traditionally, it is our action that directs God’s response. I can’t think God is waiting on us to behave before he plans his course of action. Your view seems more consistent with Scripture’s narrative.

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