Their prince shall be one of themselves;
their ruler shall come out from their midst;
I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me,
for who would dare of himself to approach me?
declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 30.21)
Like the more well-known prophecy in Micah 5.2, Jeremiah prophesies here that a ruler shall come from Israel itself. Also like the Micah prophesy, this refers to Christ who will be fully man and fully Jewish, even though he is also fully divine. But if this is true, the second part of the verse seems difficult to understand. In what sense is Jesus unable to “approach” God “of himself”?
We often lose sight of the humanity of Jesus, that he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” (Phil. 2.6). This does not mean that he ceased being God, but that in his humanity alone, Jesus would not dare to approach God because of his right understanding of the majesty of God. And if that is true of Christ Jesus, how much more is it true of us! No one can dare to approach God “of himself.” This is not just due to our sin, but because of our finiteness before his greatness.
Perhaps it is reflected in the practice mentioned in Esther that no one could appear before the king without being summoned.
Even in a sinless state, man is not authorized “in himself” to approach God. He remains under God’s authority and cannot operate in any manner independent of God. So it applies to Christ in that in his humanity (and even in the economy of the Trinity) Christ approaches the Father in a position of submission to his authority.
What difference should this make in my life? First, I should realize that the very opportunity to pray to God and to relate to him is a tremendous gift and privilege.
Second, I need to recognize that every time I relate to God that I am under his authority. I have no rights before God except what he grants me. I do not exist in any sense nor at any time in a state of independence from God. Our wills are rightly exercised only in submission to God, and if we do the right thing and approach God, it is because as he says here, that God has “made us draw near.”
As the next verse shows, we are only God’s people because he has made us his people. Also, it shows that we approach God with humility not only because we are sinners and he is holy, but also because he is God and we are not! Even in a sinless state, we should approach God with reverence, humility, awe, and trembling. Sinful man, including redeemed sinful men, does not have a deep enough sense of the majesty, awesomeness, and unapproachability of God. Lord, give me such a sense of your unapproachability, and grant that I may tremble with holy joy when I approach you through the blood of Christ my Savior!