Sin In the Camp

How’s that for a title?  Wouldn’t you rather talk about the Razorbacks, no matter how bad it is?

Back in February I went looking for a Bible reading plan for my iPad.  I found two that interested me but I couldn’t make up my mind which I wanted to use.  So I started both.

One does the whole Bible in three years and it started with the Gospels.  The other does the Bible in one year and goes in roughly chronological order.  I think it actually started with Job but it got into Genesis very early on.  So a lot of the time I was reading a passage from the Gospels or some other part of the New Testament and a passage from the Old Testament.

Talk about spiritual whiplash.  On one hand there’s the Jesus of love and grace in the Gospels.  Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners.  On the other hand is the wrath of the Old Testament God.  And that’s how some people see it.  There’s an Old Testament God and a New Testament God.  Some don’t want to have anything to do with the wrathful God of the Old Testament.  Some refuse to follow the New Testament Jesus because of the blood thirsty Old Testament God.

So what do we do with this?  How do we reconcile the Old Testament and New Testament Gods?   Well here’s what I think.

There is only one God.  Not an Old and New.  God does not change.  But just look at the things that happen on the book of Exodus.  God descends to the mountain to talk to Moses and He tells the children of Israel to stay away or they will die.  Don’t even let livestock near the mountain.  Worshipers of the golden calf are killed by the sword.  People complain and poisonous snakes are sent into the camp.  People rebel and a plague breaks out or the earth opens and swallows them up.  Miriam tries to take over and she becomes a leper.

You could get the idea that God’s wrath is an almost involuntary thing, a reflex.  Like slapping a mosquito.  Not a good analogy but the best I can do for now.  God even tells Moses once  to call for repentance ‘…lest I break out in the camp’.   God is exercising great restraint by not wiping them all out.  Sin and God cannot exist in close proximity with each other.  When a sinner comes close to God the sinner is annihilated.  This does not mean that God is angry or unreasonable or just plain mean.  It just means that sin cannot exist in His presence.

So what about the New Testament God?  He’s the same, the same as the Old Testament God.  Sin cannot exist in His presence.

That fact should elicit a response from us.  First it should foster a new appreciation of what Jesus did for us.  The Old Testament priests didn’t know if they would come out alive when they stepped into the Holy of Holies.  An unconfessed sin could be their death.  We, however, can come boldly before God because of the blood of Jesus.  Do we take that for granted?  Has it become a no big deal thing?  A right instead of a privilege?

The other thing is sin.  Where are we on that?  We have our list, our list of the big ones.  We’re good on that.  But what about the ‘little’ ones?  Do we laugh them off?  (I’m saying ‘We’ because it’s just too painful to say ‘I’.)  Do we say ‘Well, that’s just the way I am’?  If we do we are disregarding the righteousness of God and treating lightly the blood of Jesus.

I don’t want you to get the idea that God is some supercosmic force.  That carried to it’s natural conclusion leads us to an aloof, impersonal God who does not involve Himself in our daily struggles.  No, He is more than an impersonal force.  He is a person, the Person.  But if we jump on that to the exclusion of the other we wind up with the capricious silly gods of Greek and Roman mythology.

I think the truth about God is somewhere in the middle between person and force.  No, I think He is both, both peace and joy and love and awesome righteous power.

This is, of course, not some new theology.  It’s nothing to form a church around.  It’s just thoughts that get stuck in my head that I have to write down before I can move on.  That’s all this is.

But it does seem to me…

It’s too easy to get cozy with  my happy and comfortable, peaceful, undemanding god and forget about the reality of the powerful demanding all righteous God who expects, who demands that we be righteous as well.

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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7 Responses to Sin In the Camp

  1. “It’s too easy to get cozy with my happy and comfortable, peaceful, undemanding god and forget about the reality of the powerful demanding all righteous God who expects, who demands that we be righteous as well.”

    Amen!

  2. Reblogged this on Manoah's Wife and commented:
    “It’s too easy to get cozy with my happy and comfortable, peaceful, undemanding god and forget about the reality of the powerful demanding all righteous God who expects, who demands that we be righteous as well.”
    We must take this to heart.

    • Angus Lewis says:

      I’m mostly a ‘righteousness of God in Christ’ and New Creature kind of guy. I’ve always thought we get a lot more fire and brimstone than grace. But lately this has been stuck in my head. Sometimes you don’t know if what you write is for others or for yourself or both. I would say this one is for me.

  3. The most important point is that God preserved the master plan of salvation. He did what He had to do so that all could be fulfilled in Christ. The Old Testament shows a God that is intent in purpose, and dedication to principles for restoration. Harsh at times? Yes. Necessary? Yes. For Christ to be the firstborn from the grave, everything had to move together in one harmonious movement toward the birthing of the kingdom of God. We forget sometimes what Colossians, Hebrews, and the Gospel of John tell us: mainly, that Christ was in the beginning, all thing were made through Him, and that in some unknown way, all of creation is bound in Him. It has been about Christ from the very beginning! Anything that thwarts the divine design has to be rectified, no matter how harsh it seems to us today. Without God’s unwavering faithfulness to the Hebrews (harsh or otherwise), we wouldn’t even have the written prophecies that Christ fulfilled. In some strange way, God did and does what He has to do to bring the restoration of all things in Christ. At the end of the age, we will rejoice in His righteousness, wisdom, creativity, and love…for our benefit and for His glory.

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