In Nehemiah 11, they cast lots to see who would go to live in Jerusalem. It sounds like the people preferred to be on their own land instead of the city being repaired. We can infer this because the people praise the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, however, was where God’s presence would dwell with them in the temple. Why wouldn’t people leap at the chance to be near their God?
It reminded me of the people telling Moses, “You talk to God and then tell us what He says. If He talks to us, we’ll die.” They didn’t want to talk to God. They were scared of Him.
Why do people not leap at the chance to be in God’s presence? Why don’t we run to Him first thing when we rise, when we’re happy, when we’re sad, when there’s trouble?
Why don’t we want to live fully in His presence? Why don’t we want to look at Him at all times?
We may say we want to, but we don’t, so there must be something else happening. Since it’s available to us, we would be doing it if we really, truly wanted that most of all. So, what’s going on?
In the wilderness, the Israelites are afraid of God.
Sometimes it’s the wrong kind of fear of God that keeps us from Him. The right kind should make us want to run to Him for covering.
The wrong kind fears punishment. The wrong kind acknowledges yourself as a sinner, but not as one who is repentant and going to God seeking mercy, which He would give.
We can be afraid of God if we know we are sinning and living our own way and don’t want to change. We can be afraid God is going to tell us to do something we don’t want to. We can be afraid He’ll point something out in our lives and it won’t be comfortable. We can be afraid we’ll go to Him with questions and there will be no answer. We can be afraid that our peace will be disturbed if we have to go to God and rely on Him instead of the worldly methods we’re comfortably relying on.
The right fear of God knows that the wages of sin is death, but that the gift of God is life for those who turn to Him, confess their sin and receive His Word into their lives to live by. The right fear of the Lord rests in knowing that God’s wrath is only for the unbeliever and His goodness is constant and endless toward those who fear Him.
Honor God by running to Him in the fear of the Lord.