While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the LORD said to Moses, "The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp." And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses. - Numbers 15:32-36
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. - Leviticus 10:1-2
And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, "Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today." And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor. - Joshua 7:24-26
And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. - 2 Samuel 6:5-7
One thing in common with all of these passages is sin. We might even get more specific and say that there is a common theme among these passages regarding God's holiness:
1. The Sabbath was to be kept Holy.
2. Nadab and Abihu dishonored God's holiness by offering strange fire
3. Achan disobeyed God's command to stay away from the things devoted to destruction (thus profaning Israel's command to be holy and unlike the surrounding peoples)
4. Uzzah disregarded his own sinful hands by touching God's holy ark.
Truly, the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). The point of today's post is that we are not amazed enough at grace. When we read passages like the ones above we are a little shocked. You mean God kills people people!?
Absolutely. God's holy justice demands the punishment of sin. The above accounts shouldn't be amazing to us. What should be amazing to us is that we are breathing right now able to read this blog post!
Is there anyone reading this who would be so bold as to say that you have never profaned God's holy name? Either by sins of commission (actively profaning his name in something you've said or done) or by sins of omission (failing to give God the glory due His holiness). If you're honest, you know you're guilty of both.
And yet, here you are. Not stoned to death. Not consumed by fire. Not struck down.
One word: mercy.
Mercy is not getting what you deserve. In what way can you say that you deserve God's sustaining your very existence today and withholding His justice from you for your crimes against Him? Again, if you're honest, there is nothing you have to offer a defense for your sin. It is by God's sheer mercy that you live this day.
But beyond this, not only has God shown us mercy (not getting what we deserve), He also shows us grace in giving us what we don't deserve.
If you're a Believer, not only has God shown you abundant mercy in not wiping you off the face of the earth, He has shown you grace in clothing you in the righteousness of His Son!
Justice shouldn't amaze us. Justice should be expected. Justice is deserved.
Ah, but grace! Grace ought to sweep us off our feet. Grace ought to overwhelm our souls so that we pour forth endless praises to God for His rescuing of undeserving blasphemers.
I am the man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. I am Nadab and Abihu. I am Achan. I am Uzzah. Actually, I feel I am far worse. And yet, God has not struck me down! Instead, He struck down His own Son. God treated Jesus like all of the above, and more, so that I could be treated like Jesus.
Has the grace of God overwhelmed you?
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me!
God is free and sovereign in His dispensing of grace. He is not obligated to show grace to anyone. While He shows His mercy to all mankind in currently withholding final judgment, not all experience His saving grace. God could save every person, but He has chosen to show justice on many.
Again, this should not amaze us.
It should not amaze us that so many go to hell. It should amaze us that any go to heaven.
Don't treat grace lightly today. Be amazed by it!
If you're not a Believer: Don't presume upon mercy today. Don't think God owes you life. Cry out to Jesus in faith. Seeing yourself as an undeserving sinner and in need God's amazing grace.
Oh where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more! There is more grace in God than sin in you! Be overwhelmed by it! Be amazed! Run to Jesus.