“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).
There is a divine command in this passage, and a royal promise. The command comes to draw near to God, for that is His will. God created man for Himself, to know Him and enjoy Him forever. When man was formed from the dust of the earth, and from the same material the stars are made of, as glorious as that was, it was insufficient.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done.
~ Fanny Crosby
Creation reflects the glory of God, but there is something more wonderful, and that is for a portion of creation to be aware of and acknowledge its Creator. Therefore, God breathed into Adam the spiritual spark of life, and man became a living soul with will, emotion, and intellect. Man was able to walk with God in the cool of each evening and interact with Him.
Then, to walk with Adam as he walked with God, the Lord made woman, whom Adam called, Eve, meaning “life giver”.
What joy Adam and Eve must have had when they drew near to the Lord each day. He was not just their Creator; He was their provider for the Lord had created a garden which He took Adam to.
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Gen. 2:8).
When Adam was created, there was no garden East of Eden. The word “Eden” (Heb. ‘adan) means “delight” or “pleasure”. The Lord God planted a garden of delight just for Adam and Eve to enjoy.
Let us return to Paradise for just a moment and consider what it means to walk with God, and to draw near to Him. In particular, how does a person draw near to God?
First, we draw near to God when we anticipate His company. There is a measure of excitement, there is an anxious joy of anticipation when we know that someone we love and care for is coming to be with us. We look into the distance anticipating their arrival. We think of how nice it will be to see them. The Lord of Glory is coming to be near us. Let us draw near to Him with anticipation.
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.
~ C. Austin Miles
Second, we draw near to God when we prepare ourselves. James tells the people of God to cleanse themselves, to put away every known sin, and to stop being double-minded. When someone we want to please is coming to visit, the house is cleaned, and the room they will be staying in is refreshed with clean sheets, clean towels, and dusting. The bed covers are smoothed out and the pillows are fluffed. There is preparation for an arrival.
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
~William D. Longstaff
Third, we draw near to God when we embrace Him with tender expressions of love. “Kiss the Son,” said the Psalmist (Psalms 2:12). Embrace the Lord with your heart in an act of submission, for that is what kissing means symbolically.
In 1 Samuel 10:1 Samuel anointed Saul to be king over Israel. “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (1 Sam. 10:1). Samuel kissed David as an act of submission to him. When we draw near to God and express tender thoughts to Him, we do submit and show respect and reverence.
There is a lovely country song that begins with the words,
Have I told you lately that I love you
Could I tell you once again somehow?
Have I told with all my heart and soul how I adore you
Well, I’m telling you now.
Have you told the Lord lately how much you love Him? Why not do that now as you draw near to Him in love.
More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee;
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!
Fourth, we draw near the Lord when we obey Him.
It was the complaint of God against His people that they drew near to Him with their lips, and engaged in an academic view of the Lord, but their hearts were far from Him. People consciously engaged in acts of willful disobedience. “Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).
Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The prophet Samuel asked, “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22).
If you desire to draw near to God, obey His known will as it is revealed in His Word, by His Spirit, and impressed upon the heart.
When we walk with the Lord
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
~John H. Sammis