Fear and the Cross

My OT reading today was Deuteronomy 4-6.  This passage in particular from chapter 5 stuck out to me (emphasis mine):
    22"These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly(CQ) at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And(CR) he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23And(CS) as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24And you said, 'Behold, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and(CT) greatness, and(CU) we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man(CV) still live. 25Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us.(CW) If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. 26(CX)For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? 27Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say and(CY) speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.'
    28"And the LORD heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the LORD said to me, 'I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you.(CZ) They are right in all that they have spoken. 29(DA) Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments,(DB) that it might go well with them and with their descendants[i] forever! 30Go and say to them, "Return to your tents." 31But you, stand here by me, and(DC)I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.'

 God had spoken out of fire, cloud, and darkness, and the people of Israel were terrified.  They were so scared that they didn't want to hear from God anymore; they would listen to Moses relating what God said instead.  They would still listen and obey, but the Person of God simply terrified them.  They didn't understand how a holy God could talk to sinful men without the people becoming consumed, and they feared that if they spoke with God any longer, that they would die.

This jars our modern evangelical sensibilities.  Isn't Jesus your homeboy?  God's a loving God, isn't He?  I've heard that only in western society do we stress God as "friend."  While there is some truth in that, however, we forget that God is also frightening.  What stuck out to me about this passage was that God says the people of Israel spoke rightly.  They spoke rightly!  God actually affirms what the Israelites say.  This doesn't happen very often.  In fact, I can't think of any more instances of this happening off the top of my head.  Not only does God affirm their fear, He wishes that this attitude would continue.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and it is this knowledge that would have equipped the Israelites to have things "go well with them and their descendants."

Another point that sticks out to me is that God provides a mediator.  Moses stands between the people and God.  (I am also reminded of an earlier OT passage where Aaron stops a plague literally right in its tracks by standing between the dead and the living.)  The people listen to Moses as the mouthpiece of God.  To me, this points to the necessity of the cross.  During Christ's time on earth, He represented the Father who sent Him.  His words were not His own, but rather those of His father.  In fact, Christ and the Father were/ are one (which is where the analogy breaks down a bit.)  And just as Moses stood between the people and God, so much more did Christ stand between us and God's wrath.  He stands between us, shielding us from the cloud and fire and darkness.  He takes our sin and shame and gives us his righteousness.

God is still awesome (in the Biblical sense) and worthy to be feared.  Oh that we would fear Him more that things may go well with us!  But our fear does not drive us away from Him in the way that it drove the Israelites away.  Instead, our fear drives us into a greater appreciation of the cross and what exactly Christ did on Calvary.  It drives us to renew our love and dedication to Christ.  And as we abide in Him and He in us, and the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives, we also have fellowship with the Father.  The curtain has been torn, and we enter into communion with Him and one another.