Chernobyl is a name that has become infamous for it’s nuclear horror story, along with Fukushima. Once upon a time, nobody apart from a few experts knew that nuclear power was dangerous. I remember visiting a nuclear power station and thinking how clean and safe it appeared. All you see from the outside is an imposing building with a huge cooling tower, but hidden inside is an important fusion process that powers the stars. It’s like having a small part of a star, or a tiny a bit of our Sun, in a box.
As long as the fusion process and its fuel are contained within its box we are safe, but if you were to open the box you would die before you could even walk inside. Our God Yahweh created all of the stars in the universe, and Scripture says he is extremely dangerous.
“The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God.”
“여러분의 하나님 여호와는 소멸하는 불이시며 질투하는 하나님이십니다.”
(Deuteronomy 신명기 4:24)
This is the fire that killed Aaron’s sons Abihu and Nadab when they offered a profane sacrifice, “the wrong kind of fire,” in the tabernacle, a sign of their disregard for the utter holiness of God and the need to honour him in solemn and holy fear.
“So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.”
“여호와 앞에서 불이 나와 그들을 삼켜 버렸다. 그래서 그들은 여호와 앞에서 죽고 말았다.” (Leviticus 레위기 10:2)
The prophet Isaiah also points out how dangerous Yahweh is. What a terrifying God we serve.
The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. Terror seizes the godless. “Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry. “Who can survive this all-consuming fire?”
시온의 죄인들이 두려워 떨며 “우리 중에 누가 영원히 타는 이 소멸하는 불 앞에서 살아 남을 수 있겠는가?” 하는구나.
The answer to Isaiah’s question is that no sinner can survive the all-consuming fire of God’s glory, his holiness. God’s holiness and our sin is like matter and anti-matter, and when they come into proximity there is instant annihilation. Except of course that God isn’t hurt, only that we are totally obliterated. When God’s glory came down in a cloud on Sinai, God warned Moses that anyone who even touched the mountain would die.
On that holy mountain, from out of the thick cloud and darkness that concealed him and protected Moses, God gave the Ten Commandments to his people. He also gave precise instructions for the care of the stone tablets and how the people were to store them.
Moses instructed Bezalel and Oholiab to construct the tabernacle and furnishings of the Ark of the Covenant. In Deuteronomy, the Ark is said to have been built specifically by Moses himself without reference of Bezalel or Oholiab.
When carried, the Ark was always hidden under a large veil made of skins and blue cloth, always carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the priests and the Levites who carried it. When stationary it was hidden inside a holy of holies within the holy tent called a tabernacle. Nobody could enter except the priests, who were a specially purified group of Levites descended from Aaron, and anyone else who went too near the tabernacle would die.
Once there were some people who looked into the Ark of the Covenant, and they died on the spot. It’s recorded in 1 Samuel 6:19 that “the Lord killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the Lord.”
If you read this in a different translation you may find a different number of dead, because the some Hebrew manuscripts read ‘70 men, 50,000 men’ and it’s not completely understood why there are two numbers. This translation assumes it means 70 men out of 50,000 men.
The point is that they died because they looked into the Ark. The point is that our God is truly dangerous and scary. We must not interpret that to mean he is nasty and horrible, but that the Lord God, creator of the universe and our loving father, is holy and awesome.
This dangerous glory, this all-consuming fire of holiness, was kept away from people inside safe containers of cloud, tabernacle and temple to protect the people whom God loves. This is why God couldn’t just come down and move around among the people of the world and save them. The Lord almighty is so holy that his presence on earth would have destroyed us instantly, because we are sinful.
Have you enjoyed Christmas and the stories of baby Jesus coming into this world to save us? But did you stop to think that this baby isn’t safe? Baby Jesus was the tabernacle, the container that was full of the most dangerous substance for sinners. Baby Jesus was full of God’s glory and his holiness, the power to destroy sin and sinners. Satan knew what it was and wanted to destroy it. We didn’t know how awesome, and some people still don’t realise what incredible danger they are in when they approach Jesus.
The human race was protected because the holiness of God was safely kept inside Jesus. Then Jesus went around forgiving sins and purifying lots more people so they would be able to have the awful power of God’s holiness dwell in them without it destroying them. And today there are millions of dangerous holy people in this world. People like you, forgiven of sins and holding inside them the incredible power of God’s glory.
Being a Christian isn’t about being a nice person so that you can go to heaven when you die. Being a Christian is about being dangerous, because God’s son made you into a tabernacle that can contain his glory. Until that day when God returns in his glory, and all the world will see.
In Matthew 3, John the baptist told people that he was preparing them to meet the Messiah. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” John said. “Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” He’s going to be “burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
God, it seems, has very little interest in making things comfortable and nice for us. Instead, he is intent on developing our dangerous holiness. That great holiness that blazes with his consuming fire and is dangerous to sin and sinners.
We worship a dangerous God and every area of your life is under threat. Our awesome God is a loving God, and we should not be mistaken about that. God’s love is unlike any human love; its chief concern is not to make you comfortable, but to make you holy and to be holy is dangerous and the act of making us holy is dangerous.
Jesus has given you the Holy Spirit to change you, and that’s a danger to your everyday trappings. It’s a danger to your comfort, a danger to your retirement plan, and a danger to your schedule. It’s a danger to your social standing, a danger to your secrets, and a danger to your religion. The good news is that the Holy Spirit is also a danger to your limits, a danger to your fear, and a danger to your addictions. God’s fire is a danger to your sickness, a danger to your unforgiveness, a danger to the chains that bind you. The chains that you have become way too comfortable with cannot withstand God’s holy fire.
Having God’s holiness in you makes you dangerous. You become dangerous to your neighbour’s bondage, and dangerous to the pain in the people around you. You become dangerous to the generations of abuse and pain in your family and the families you know, and dangerous to the culture you are in every single day. God wants to make us dangerous as Jesus was dangerous. Dangerous to our neighbourhoods, dangerous to our friends, dangerous to our culture, dangerous to the kingdom of darkness.
It costs a lot to surrender your life to the baby born in Bethlehem and say, come into me and take away my sin. Fill me with your holiness and let your glory overcome me. Take me and make me like you, make me dangerous as you are dangerous. Powerful in love as you are powerful in love.
Purified by the refiner’s fire, we are the children of God almighty.
At the end of times, it says in Revelation 20:9, fire will come down from heaven and consume Satan and all that is unholy. “Death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire.” (v.14)
In the final verses we are shown that in heaven “the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.” There is no longer any need for protection from the dangerous God, and we shall finally see him face to face because Jesus came at Christmas as a baby.