One of my favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 2:13.
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
How marvelous to be able to be near to the one true, righteous, and holy God!
Perhaps you long for a relationship with God or deeper intimacy. It is possible!
Today, we’ll traverse the cycle of God’s initiating nearness and His people shunning it repeatedly across the millennia. Yet He is the faithful God and continues to pursue and provide for intimacy with us.
God’s People - Created to Be Near
Man and woman were created to live in the presence of God. Just think of the lush garden Adam and Eve called home. They had all they needed there. They had meaningful work, plenty to eat, and companionship. And most significant, they had God’s presence “walking” in the cool of the evening with them.
God’s People Chose Distance
Despite this perfect life, environment, and relationship, they were influenced to question God’s goodness and His commitment to them. As a result, they chose distance over nearness simply by choosing the fruit. It seemed like a very basic decision, yet it had dire consequences; the worst was being banished from the Garden and God’s daily presence.
If you are feeling distant due to some poor decisions, keep reading! You will find that God is not finished with you.
God Chooses His People And Comes Near
Eventually, God chose Abraham to begin building a nation of chosen people. A nation of people called by His name. A people to whom He came near regularly to promise exponential family growth and very specific property ownership.
We see God communicating regularly with Abraham, even coming as close as visiting him as the pre-incarnate Christ to assure he and Sarah that she would still become pregnant, despite her advanced age.
God was near when He provided the ram for the sacrifice in the place of Abraham’s beloved Isaac.
He might have seemed a very distant God as the Egyptian Pharoah that had treated Abraham’s descendants kindly died, and they became enslaved to the new Egyptian ruler. Yet hundreds of years into that enslavement, He made Himself known as the great I AM and walked His beloved people out of their bondage.
He was so near to the Hebrew people during their deliverance and travel toward the land promised to Abraham that they could physically see cloud and fire – a powerful revelation of His presence and protection.
The Israelites – as Adam and Eve – had all they needed. They had a place to go, and they were on their way. They had their needs met daily. And they had God’s presence visibly apparent.
God’s People Again Choose Distance
Despite God’s tireless initiative in choosing His people, the way He bountifully provided for them, and the clear promises that He would continue to be their God, these chosen people rejected the abundance of His nearness and asked for the way things used to be. You know, just like they were in Egypt when they were oppressed slaves?
Have you chosen distance over intimacy with God finding it a great disappointment? Has your way that seemed it would be so glamorous, rewarding, and/or fulfilling produced nothing but emptiness in the end? Don’t stop reading!
The Cycle of Grace
After the giving of the law, God’s people rebelled regularly. Through all the judgment that followed over many years, God was endeavoring to get them to see Him as the fulfillment of all their needs.
In the prophets who gave God’s word to the people, we see the promise and fulfillment of judgment and restoration, as well as promises of a time when God would come near His remnant. Those who sought a right relationship with Him through a Savior - the Son of Man, a branch from the root of Jesse, one born of a virgin – looked forward to the time when God would become Immanuel, “God with us.”
God Draws Near
After 400 years of silence from the Lord, the time was right.
So that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:5-6 (NASB)
Immanuel, God with us, was given just as promised hundreds of years before. God wanted to be near us and He wanted us to draw near to Him. He wanted us to cry out to Him as a son cries out to His daddy when he has a need.
And it wasn’t because His people had gotten themselves together. It is because He knew we needed Him. So He made the way for them (and us) to be drawn near.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NASB)
How to Be Brought Near to God
The featured verse not only assures us we can be brought near to God, it tells us how. He gave us the way IN CHRIST. We can’t earn it. We must accept the gift. Here are just a few verses that tell how we accept the gracious gift of a relationship with Christ, which brings us into the family of God.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
Have you trusted in Christ and surrendered to Him as Lord? God gave His Son so that we could be adopted children. You simply need to trust in His provision and give your life to Christ. Being drawn near to God is only one of the many benefits of this decision!
You may think, “I was saved years ago and walked so close to Christ, but something happened, and I have been walking away from Him for quite a while.”
Good news! If you have trusted Christ for salvation and surrendered to Him, just renew your commitment to walk with Him. He is faithful!
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
Oh, Lord! How incredible that you would desire to be near to us and that you would pursue us so diligently. How amazing that you would invite us to come boldly before you.
I pray that I will cherish the nearness that you provided through Christ by surrendering to Him day by day and moment by moment so that there is no barrier in our relationship.
Thank you so many benefits that being in Christ brings, including intimacy that is beyond understanding.