Is God scary? Why or why not?
For 400 years Abraham’s family were slaves in Egypt. They worked for the king (Pharaoh) without freedom, and were treated very badly. So God chose Moses to lead the Hebrew family out of Egypt and all the way to a mountain in the desert where God would make another covenant with them. God will make promises to the Hebrews and the Hebrews will make promises to God.
Now there’s something we need to know about God. God is not a human being like us. God is a spirit. God doesn’t have a body. So in order for the people to see God he would appear to them as things like smoke and fire. The Bible says that when God met the people at Mount Sinai he was pretty scary. Listen to how God is described in these verses:
Exodus 20:18-19. 18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
What words do you hear that describe the appearance of God? (thunder, lightning, smoke, darkness)
Why is God so scary? Because he’s trying to show the people that he is perfect and they are not. The people are still full of sin. And when we are full of sin, God is scary. Why? Because God can’t stand sin. He must punish sin and destroy it.
But at the same time God loves us. He hates our sin, but he loves us. So how can God punish sin and love us at the same time? How can God destroy sin without destroying us?
God’s answer in Exodus was an altar. Listen to what God said to the people:
Exodus 20:24. An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.
An altar was a mound of dirt and rocks where the people could offer a sacrifice for their sins – a “sheep or oxen.” Through the sacrifice God could punish the sins of the people without punishing them. He could destroy their sin without destroying them. How? Because the substitute animal was destroyed instead of them. The animal died in their place.
But these sheep and oxen that the people would sacrifice on the altar were just a picture of our real and final sacrifice – Jesus. Jesus is not a sheep or an ox. Jesus is God becoming a person just like us so he can be our perfect substitute for our sins. By punishing Jesus on the cross (the true altar) God was able to punish our sins without punishing us. And that is good news!
Because of Jesus all my sins have been punished.
With Jesus I never have to be afraid of God again.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Look on google for pictures of altars. Notice how many churches and even people’s homes have altars. Talk about how the cross of Jesus is the final altar that we need. No more sacrifices are needed. So churches and houses don’t need altars anymore.
Here’s what my google search looked like:
Thank you for being the substitute for my sins. Now I know that I never have to be afraid of God.
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