Safe distancing is the social norm now, and everyone has a 1m bubble radius and that is where we are to live in. We see a similar distance of balance in today’s verse, that God instructs to His people the Israelites when they are crossing over River Jordan and entering into Canaan. He says when you see the ark of the covenant depart with the Levitical priests, you also pack up and set off to leave together. There is to be a 2000 cubit (912m) distance from the ark of the covenant. 2000 cubits is the distance of reverence because the ark of the covenant is so holy you don’t go closer.
Verse 4 is the reason why God is telling the people to keep their distance. It is so that they may know the way to go because they are now walking a new path.
Let us ask ourselves today: What is the distance between me and God today? Right now with Covid 19 far is the safe distance. The answer: Is with God, the safer distance is to keep close to Him.
Different examples in the Bible where distance mattered:
1. God and the Israelites (Exo 19:12, 23 – 24)
God is emphasizing the importance of that distance, make sure you don’t get killed because I might break forth and kill you. Why? Can you remember that the Israelites just came out of Egypt, it has been 3 months, but they were still keeping the gods of Egypt in their hearts, having the culture and disbelief. They are very new to this God and worshipping this God. They are not yet consecrated. They are still foreign. God is trying to teach them something here.
God said that the priests and people should not cross that border but only 5 chapters later in Exodus, the representatives of Israel came up to God and saw God, and they ate and drank with God (Exodus 24:9-11). God allowed them to cross the barrier and come close to the presence of God.
After that God tells Moses to read the book of the law, the Word of God, to the people. Then God calls them up and has a dinner party with them. What allows us to come closer to God and even cross the barrier? It is through receiving the Word, and through the covenant. That ratification of the covenant required the shedding of the blood. It is Jesus Christ on the cross that ratified the new covenant with us, which allowed us to be His bride (Matthew 27:51).
2. Jesus’ disciple John (John 13:23)
This is the gospel of John, and John wrote it, but rather than mentioning his name, he always mentioned himself as the “disciples whom Jesus loved”. Can you imagine two men both 30 something years old, and one reclining his head on the other? This was how close John was to Jesus. Nevertheless, even this John ran away when Jesus was being arrested.
We come so close to God in moments of our life in faith, but there are other moments we go so far away and turn our backs on Jesus and focus on something else. But in John 19:25-26, John came back! Where did he come back to? All the way to the cross. He could have been crucified with Jesus. Why was John standing now at the foot of Jesus’ cross? It shows his act of repentance for running away. Even at times in our lives of faith, we want to run away and we actually run away sometimes, may we be like John and come right back to the cross.
Jesus took 3 disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and He left them to pray and He went a stone’s throw away from them. Spiritually the stone is Jesus, so the spiritual distance is a distance where they can catch the Stone. A spiritual distance where they are able to receive the Word and receive Jesus.
There are times we do distance ourselves, but no matter how far you go, may you stay within the stone’s throw. It is only when the Word reaches us that we can come out of our dark hole and our trouble.
Peter denied Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed. All the disciples ran away right? Peter did return but “following at a distance”. Close enough to follow, close enough to find out what is happening, but far enough to be safe according to human thinking. Because of that distance, when somebody says “Hey I saw him with Jesus!” Peter denied that, and even eventually cursed Jesus. That distance will allow us weak human beings to deny our faith eventually.
When Peter denied Jesus, and the rooster crowed, he remembered, and he looked Jesus and their eyes met. Peter went out and wept. That caused him to repent eventually.
When Adam sinned, he fell away from God and lost his peace.
When we are closer to God we are safer. When we run away from Jesus, and there is too much distance between us and Jesus, what do we lose? One important thing is we lose peace. What Adam should have realized is, this problem of guilt and having no peace, fear, will only go away if he comes back to God right now.
God who is in heaven comes down in flesh to be close to us. That is called the History of Redemption, the time in which God closes that gap, ready to forgive us.
The greatest incident was God asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. I believe Abraham was able to do it because he had peace in his heart. Abraham understood that peace through his journey of life, but especially when he met Melchizedek the king of Salem the King of Peace, and he received that blessing. Peace is knowing that God is in control.