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What is the purpose of the Gospel? Why did Christ come and die on the cross? Why did God send ministers to proclaim reconciliation to God? God has always desired to restore what He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden before they fell into sin. God is holy and cannot remain in the presence of sin without bringing judgment. The wages of sin is death; that is, the penalty for sinning is death. This happens on a spiritual level when God separates from man and on a physical level when man's soul and spirit separates from his/her physical body. The closer God's unique presence is to man the swifter His judgment upon sin. When people sin with impunity it is evidence that God is not near.
When God began to draw near to man he had to deal with the terrible defilement that sinning caused. Sin is an offense towards God and has to be dealt with. Sins, individual transgressions have to be dealt with also before God can draw near on an ongoing basis. Man also needs to have his conscience cleansed of the accusation that makes man want to flee from God so that he can come boldly before God's Throne in prayer and fellowship. Many things need to be dealt with to make God's return possible, but first we need to look at God's ultimate plan.
Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Isaiah 66:1, 2).
God intended to make His dwelling place among men. Not to a building or a structure or a 'spot' on a map, but to this 'man' will I look. God intended to walk with man in sweet fellowship and communion. He desired to be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth. He desired a place of rest. But since the fall man has not been kind to welcome God or present himself as a holy dwelling place for Him.
From Genesis 3 to Genesis 6 man was on the fast track to absolute destruction. The people did not like to retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28). They did not seek after God- in fact they fled from Him and resisted Him on every hand. In Genesis 6:3 God said that His Spirit would not always strive with man, but that his days would be 120 years. Some men began to call on the name of the Lord, but by the days of Noah there were only 8 people that would heed the call of God to repentance. The world was destroyed by water and Noahs family then began to swiftly replenish the earth. But over time man drifted almost completely away from God again until there were only tiny pockets of people that feared the Lord.
This is a tragic fact, yet the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him (II Chron. 16:9). God found such a man in Abram and called him out of Ur of the Chaldees into the land that He swore unto him.
God Returning Among Men
God appeared to Abraham and started a process by which He would slowly bring man back into fellowship with Him on a large scale. God had to deal with mans sin problem on the one hand and a rebellious nature on the other. Men typically seek a personal peace and want to be left alone to do their own will unthwarted. But from time to time throughout the Old Testament God would find a person whose heart is perfect towards Him and would seek to reveal Himself.
Abraham was such a man. Abraham built altars and became a praying man. He sought the face of God in the mountain and from place to place. It was his desire to please God and do what was right. Abraham's nephew Lot, on the other hand, pitched his tent towards Sodom and filled his heart and mind with the vexing torments of other peoples sins. God could never be at rest in such a persons life. So Lot never knew the closeness of fellowship with God that Abraham knew. He wanted a little bit of compromise in his life and God could not walk with him as a friend as He did with Abraham.
Lot could have chosen the path Abraham took. He could have shared in his altar experiences. But Lot wanted just enough Egypt to safely keep God on retainer, but never to have a close relationship with Him as did Abraham. Lawyers in our times are prepaid to be on retainer so they will come running when they are needed. This is how many people treat God. Lot was no different. He wanted to keep God at a safe distance so he could live in compromise.
Over time Abraham would have a promised son named Isaac and Isaac would have Jacob (Israel). Lot's life ended in disaster beyond words. The consequence of his compromise would be felt for generations. Each of these men had to come to their own personal decision to serve God. The God of their fathers had to become their God.
Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons that became the 12 Tribes of Israel. Most of these sons bore many children and did not walk in the way of their father Jacob, but Joseph feared the LORD and God showed Himself strong through him. The 12 Tribes of Israel were slaves in Egypt 400 years and multiplied into the hundreds of thousands. They remembered the God of their fathers and cried out to Him. God raised up a deliverer in Moses. With a mighty outstretched arm God delivered all of the children of Israel from Pharaoh and Egypt. At first they seemed to be happy to go, but soon they began to grumble and complain.
God cannot rest in an environment of unthankfulness and He will bring swift judgment. If He stays he has to judge the sin. If He does not deal with the sin then His unique presence has to leave. God drew very near to Israel when Moses went up on the mountain. He came down and his face was glowing with the radiance of God's glory. This was their opportunity. Did the people line up to see Moses' face? Did they long to look upon him with awe and wonder savoring every glimpse of God's majesty? Did they ask Moses' what it was like to be with God or perhaps they could get permission from God to come up? No on all counts. In fact, they tried to cover his face to shield themselves from any remembrance of God. The would accept the book, but they did not want God near.
When Moses came to the Mountain and God was seeking to draw near to his people once again- the people found out that they did not really want their God.