They said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” – Exodus 20:19
What is fear to you? By definition it is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. It is what drives our fight or flight response since we can and will fight if the fear of threat is manageable and we will flee if the threat is so great we cannot overcome it.
So why do we hide from God? Why were the Israelite’s asking Moses to mediate between them and God?
God told Moses that he wanted all of Jacob’s descendants to have a relationship with Him but they feared Him so much that they did not want to be subject to His wrath. To be fair, I would be terrified too. They were at the foot of Mount Sinai and God was there hovering over it at the top in a dark cloud as Exodus 19:1-25 tells us he came down on it like fire. I would be hard pressed to want to talk to anyone that could do that. I would fear for my life.
Sin Causes Fear
If we were perfect and holy would we need to fear the Lord? It is a good question to ask ourselves. From the Fall to today what happens when we sin? We try and hide it. Before Adam and Eve sinned they spoke with God, had a relationship with Him that no other Human aside from Jesus has ever had. Once they sinned they tried to hide. Did it work? Nope. The Bible tells us this over and over again (Numbers 32:23, Ecclesiastes 12:14, Luke 12:2) and we still think we can hide from God because we are afraid of what he can do.
Sin Causes Separation
This is why the Israelite’s were fearful of God. He has the power to destroy something entirely intangible but vitally important to who we are. Our soul. Jesus warns us not to be afraid of those who can kill our body but the One who can destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). Does that mean that God is going to smite you immediately after you commit a sin? No, humanity would not survive a single day with that kind of judgement hanging over our heads. Instead God judges us after our body dies, ultimately our soul is what is freed or condemned. Will we spend eternity apart from God or will we get to rejoice in His kingdom? That is for us to choose and it is a choice. God has given us freedom of choice to come to Him or to deny Him.
Fear of the Lord is healthy an it should not paralyze us from living. God wants us to live a fulfilling life but He wants us to share it with Him. We are scared to meet Him, I mean it. I will still be in fear of seeing His face, regardless of how good my life has been lived. We cause a separation from our Father by denying Him. We hide from Him in shame because of a sin we committed. It can be a scary thing, examining our lives. If we do though and we remove all those things that make us feel ashamed in front of God then we can live freely and pursue Him with a fire in our hearts.