In Greek mythology, there’s a famed story of a tragic figure, Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, causing his wings to melt, resulting in his death. It’s a tale that highlights the dangers of pride and self-indulgence. However, it also highlights an oft-observed principle in creation: Creatures must be adapted to their surroundings to thrive. So, humans cannot live at the bottom of the ocean, nor can fish survive outside water because those habitats are hostile to them. The same principle applies to our relationship with God. So, if, like Icarus, we attempt to enter environments we aren’t adapted to, we may encounter irreparable consequences.
Today, many take God’s presence for granted. Some doubt their access, while others cast it aside to pursue lesser avenues for help and answers. We forget that Jesus obtained our access to God at a great price. We might think and behave differently if we could spend some time with the Israelites who survived the Exodus. Encounters with God were often fraught with dangers for them. For instance, when God came down on Sinai, He instructed Moses to put boundaries around the mountain for the Israelites because whoever touched it would die [Exodus 19:12-13]. Even when the presence of God tabernacled with them in the middle of their camp, only specific individuals could go into the Tent of meeting, and just one person, once a year, could go into the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant rested. Violating these ordinances around the Tabernacle would be fatal. So, for Israel, proximity to God was often terrifying, even to the point where they pleaded with Moses to ask God not to speak to them directly for fear of death [Deuteronomy 5:24-25].
If this was the experience of God’s chosen people, what chance did a Gentile like me have to get close to God? As Paul explains, Gentiles were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to God’s covenants, having no hope, and without God in the world [Ephesians 2:12]. I highly recommend reading Leviticus and Hebrews afterwards because the contrast will drive home Paul’s point in that verse. It would’ve been hard to convince an Israelite who experienced the Exodus that one day, even Gentiles would have unrestricted access to the Holy of Holies. That something only the high priest could do once a year after days of meticulous preparation and consecration I, a Gentile, would do with one heartfelt confession [1 John 1:8-9]. That’s one of the major themes in the letter to the Hebrews, as the author diligently takes us through what Jesus did to remove the barriers to God’s presence, enabling everyone who believes in Him to come boldly into God’s throne room – essentially, stick their heads in the sun without fear of destruction [Hebrews 4:14-16].
It was never God’s intention for His people to dread coming near to Him. For instance, we witness God partnering with Adam as he lived out his dominion mandate at the dawn of creation [Genesis 2:19]. God made humankind for an unceasing loving fellowship with Him, so the chasm sin created between us and Him grieved God [Genesis 6:6]. We couldn’t help ourselves or fix our broken relationship with God [Romans 5:6-7]. Despite His everlasting love for us [Jeremiah 31:3], we couldn’t fellowship with God while we remained in sin because sin can’t stand in His presence [Habakkuk 1:13, 1 Peter 1:16]. Mercifully, God didn’t leave us alienated from Him. In His perfect timing, He sent Jesus to redeem us and restore our severed fellowship. Jesus did this by taking our sin upon Himself and giving us God’s righteousness in exchange [2 Corinthians 5:21].
The Bible tells us that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne [Psalm 89:14]. So, to guarantee that His presence wouldn’t be lethal to us, God clothe us with the same substance His throne is made of. Consequently, we can now stick our heads in the sun, assured it won’t destroy us because God has recreated us with the same substance [Ephesians 4:24]. Sadly, some churches teach more about sin than righteousness obtained by faith – the blessing of Abraham [Galatians 3:10-29], the very thing Jesus came to give us. Furthermore, the devil actively tries to keep us ignorant of the divine righteousness God has gifted us. Unfortunately, many don’t pray with the awareness of our right standing before God [James 5:16], confident He will hear and answer us [Matthew 7:7, 1 John 5:15]. So, rather than approach our Father boldly, we come before Him unsure, fearful like the Israelites of old. Sadly, we cannot receive all Jesus died to give us that way [Hebrews 11:6, James 1:6-8].
Ignorance is deadly for Christians [Hosea 4:6]. Imagine you’re in a race: your opponent is on foot while you’re behind the wheel of a supercar. It shouldn’t be a contest unless you don’t know how to drive. It’s not a perfect analogy, but imagine the devil is the opponent on foot, and the supercar represents God’s gift of righteousness coupled with His Spirit living inside you. The devil only stands a chance if the believer is ignorant. He has no power over the righteousness of God [1 John 5:4-5]. So, he tries to get us out of the car to race him on foot. Don’t! Your Father is a consuming fire [Hebrews 12:29]. So, you possess something potent enough to obliterate the enemy’s machinations [Luke 10:19]!
Stick your head in the sun confidently at every opportunity. As you do, a transformation that increasingly equips you to overcome your adversaries is taking place [2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 John 2:16]. Don’t let man or demon tell you otherwise because it’s the heritage of the righteous to shine like the sun [Matthew 13:43]