“…the nearness of my God…” Ps 74:28a
What an interesting concept, ‘the nearness of God.’
Why does the psalmist say ‘the nearness of God’ when God is omnipresent?
I think back to the Old Testament and the temple. The rituals and the stations required to get to God. Every step was patterned to allow a kinesthetic learning of the degree of separation of man and God, the Holy from the profane, the clean from the unclean, the casual to the utmost deliberate, the frivolous to the solemn. Holiness was near and that changed you.
From a child you were taught the meaning of the actions required to draw near to God.
You knew what it meant when dirty hands had to be cleaned before touching holy things. You knew what it meant when an innocent animal lost its life because of sin, specifically your sin. Resolving sin was to sacrifice time, resources and a life. An innocent animal lost its life because you moved away from God and chose sin. God could not draw near to you in your sinful state. You were unclean.
There were many steps to become ceremonially clean so that you could draw near to God but it was worth it. Forgiveness and acceptance was waiting. David knew his sin, but he knew His God. Forgiveness and acceptance was waiting.
James still echoes the Old Testament ritual. Sin still separates. God still restores.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:8
We do not have to undergo the many and the laborious steps for the nearness of God anymore because of the marvelous indwelling of His Spirit but that should not make us unaware of the separation of Holiness and sin and the great cost Jesus paid for my allowance into the presence of God.
I have always found it odd that the Old Testament section of my Bible is larger than the New Testament until I realized the need to understand the great price of my sin. The Old Testament teaches and explains in great detail the holiness of God and the cost of my sin. Fellowship and communion with God is broken because of my sin. Sin is never tolerated. Sin is never acceptable. Fellowship and communion is far to precious to God. There is a great cost of time, resources and a life for sin and Jesus paid it all. Jesus allows me to draw near to the One who offers forgiveness and restoration.
There is nothing more desired than the nearness of God. There is nothing sweeter than forgiveness and acceptance.
Jesus paid it all.
I am clean.
I am loved.
I am His.
“But as for me, the nearness of God is good for me; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, So that I may tell of all Your works.” Psalm 74:28