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What Is This Reprehensible, Presumptuous Boldness That Is Seen Under The Covenant Of Grace? 
 
"While some come with a proper Scriptural boldness to the throne of grace, there are others who come into the presence of God with a reprehensible, if not sinful, boldness." - Adam Clarke
"Sin is akin to presumptuous boldness, but holiness is sister to holy fear." - Charles Spurgeon
"It is only the grace of God that enables us to worship God in a right manner." - Matthew Henry
 
"In all our approaches to God, we ought to be deeply affected with the infinite distance there is between us and God."
"We ought to approach God with a solemn pause and preparation..."
- both quotes are from Matthew Henry
 
"Irreverence is rebellion."
"Thoughts of the covenant of grace tend to create a deeper awe of God, they draw us closer to Him, and the more His glories are seen by us in that nearer access, the more humbly we prostrate ourselves before His Majesty."
- both quotes are from Charles Spurgeon
 
"In all religious assemblies the deepest reverence for God should rest upon the people."
- Adam Clarke
 
In Exodus 3:5, we read the instructions which God gave Moses at the Burning Bush - "And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."
In Exodus 19:12, He gave Moses these instructions before He came down on Mount Sinai - "And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death."
Then, in Joshua 3:3-4, we read the instructions which the officers gave to the people as they neared the Jordan River - "And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore." 
What are two themes that are reflected in all three of the above instances depicting God's holy presence in the midst of His people?
 
They are distance and an holy reverence.
 
In all three, we find God telling either Moses individually or the children of Israel collectively to keep a proper distance -
 
"And He said, Draw not nigh hither..."
"And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about..."
"...Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure..."
 
There is also a call for holy awe and reverence above the normal -
 
"...put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."
"...Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death." 
"...come not near unto it..."
 
Moses was to keep a proper distance between himself and the Bush that was set aflame by the Fire of God's Presence. There were "bounds" round about Mount Sinai - drawn by a line...throwing a ditch...laying a heap of stones...or marking certain bushes or branches of trees growing thick on the mountain - whereby the children of Israel could not pass upon fear of losing their life. At the Jordan River, the Israelites from every tribe were to keep at a distance of nearly a mile between them and the ark of the covenant - the special symbol and pledge of God's presence in their midst.
 
"Putting off one's shoes" was a token of respect and submission - similar to removing one's hat in another's presence. Yet, it went beyond that. Since dust and dirt cleaved to the shoes - the instruments of walking through this world of sin - it was also a confession of personal defilement and conscious unworthiness in the presence of Him Who alone reflects Unspotted Holiness. Mount Sinai was set ablaze by His Awesome Presence. It was at the people's peril to ascend the mount as His dreadful Majesty was being displayed on it. The children of Israel kept their distance from the ark of the covenant in order to express their reverent regard to the token of His Presence.
 
In Psalm 89:7, we read - "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him."  His power, justice, holiness, goodness, and mercy are to be feared. His very conscious presence should always fill the minds of the people with awe.
 
Yet, in this day of Grace that we live in - when most Christians can quote Hebrews 4:16 which says - "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace..." - we find such lightness, thoughtlessness, rudeness, and irreverence "in the assembly of the saints."
 
How can this be?
 
What is it about the word - "Grace" - that makes people think that God has changed His character or loosened His standards? 
 
Under the New Covenant of Grace, we read in Hebrews 12:29 that "our God is a consuming fire." Yes, He is merciful and loving, but He cannot and will not overlook willful disobedience nor ignore those who despise His commandments. Since the Day of Grace, He has not changed in attributes nor in the principles of His government. He is the same just and righteous God under the Gospel that He appeared to be under the Law.
 
We must never forget that both of the following Scriptures are found under this New Covenant -
 
 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."  (Hebrews 4:16) 
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."(Hebrews 10:31)
 
We cannot help but agree with Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon in saying that Grace makes one more reverent and fearful in the Presence of Almighty God - not less -
 
 "It is only the grace of God that enables us to worship God in a right manner."
- Matthew Henry 
 
"Thoughts of the covenant of grace tend to create a deeper awe of God, they draw us closer to Him, and the more His glories are seen by us in that nearer access, the more humbly we prostrate ourselves before His Majesty."
- Charles Spurgeon
 
In all our approaches to God, let us never forget - lest we almost become casual and light - the infinite distance there is and always will be between us and God.
 
Just because we can easily draw nigh to Him does not negate the fact that He is still the Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Eternal God.
 
Before we approach Him the next time, let's be sure to pause and prepare ourselves.
 
May God Bless His Word.
Connie

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