It is a Terrifying Thing to Fall into the Hands of the Living God

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

I know this passage from Hebrews 10 has mostly to do with apostasy, of turning away from Christ and returning to Egypt. But I find it compelling in the sense that no one simply “goes back to the world.” An expanding series of thoughts, false beliefs, detrimental actions and neglectful inactions leads one step-by-step away from Christ. In fact, the writer of Hebrews expresses this thought in chapters 3 and 6 as well, with this passage being the third admonition, emphasizing the need for believers to stimulate one another toward good works and greater devotion in order to keep themselves in the Way. The first step in the Hebrews’ encounter at Sinai — and even while they were still slaves in Egypt — was an awesome, terrifying display of raw power and holiness.

This morning while reading I was struck – once again – by the fact that I feel I am missing the experience of these sentiments in my life. I don’t think I really understand the fear of the Lord, and therefore I don’t think I understand much of anything. I’m not speaking of mental assent or acknowledgement of the truth – I think I could explain it quite well biblically, from a doctrinal standpoint. But I mean that the fear of the Lord isn’t always an active deterrent to sin in those areas where I “willfully” sin. When I overeat, I typically do so without thought of God. If I waste time, I often do so without consideration of Jesus’ lordship. Throughout my life, this is a problem.

I’m not really interested in getting to all the particulars of why I have this problem. Perhaps it is because there is so little instruction in “the fear of the Lord” in church, or maybe I never had a role model who demonstrated it for me. I just want to be delivered from my ignorance. And so I prayed this morning.

Bow Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; Touch the mountains, that they may smoke. – Psalm 144:5

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Give Me This Hill Country

This past week something has occurred every day around four in the morning which compels me to get out of bed, and on this day, #15,492, it was an upset stomach. Yesterday it was a child with an ear infection. And so on for the past week. Perhaps I should just prepare on getting up at four for a while as it seems the Lord desires my attention and I might save Him the trouble of coming up with new ideas for getting me out of bed. After I was awakened, I spent time with Him, and then from 5-9 I took my children to the bus stop and read the entire book of Joshua.

The words of Caleb in chapter 14 were personally significant as I read. He details his strength and past faithfulness in following the Lord and the promise of Moses to him, and then he says, “Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken.” My eyes were fixed on the words: Give me this hill country. I prayed: Give me this hill country…give me this hill country…give me this hill country…

In a flash I thought of the people — unrelated and independent of each other, except by the bond of the Spirit — who spoke prophetically of my future and my calling in God in the days of my youth: Jack Buskey, Joanne Picataggi, Wade Taylor and Dennis DeGrasse, and in more recent times Bobby Norton and Scott Stimson. I thought of the first thing God ever showed and quickened to me in His Word when I began seeking Him for myself in earnest: the past, present and future implications of the story of Eli, Hannah and Samuel and what it meant concerning my service to the Body of Christ. Give me this hill country.

Give me this hill country. Let everything God has promised and declared over my life come to fruition, in spite of the giants. And may the Lord find in me a willing and obedient heart that trusts that what He began in me, He is also able to finish.