Who is Steve Bannon?
We don’t really know much about him.
He’s the mysterious figure behind all the scenes; a conservative media guru.
He helped elect Donald Trump the 45th president.
Now, in a move that perplexed many and angered others, President Trump has made Mr. Bannon an official member of the National Security Council.
It’s an unprecedented action – and controversial.
Mr. Bannon – a political operative – will now have direct participatory access to the highest levels of national security decision – making. The NSC is a very powerful and exclusive group. Members advise the president on complex matters of critical concern and worldwide impact.
This is all about access to power and authority.
Because of what the president did, Bannon has the right to walk right in and take a seat at the table where life and death decisions are often made.
It’s official from the very top – he’s in. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? He’s out.
Access is important. It’s not always easy.
To gain entrance into our own bank accounts, we often have to answer security questions. In setting up an account recently I had to provide answers to four different questions.
Unlike Mr. Bannon, you and I are not likely to be made members of the National Security Council. Our influence and access are more limited. The President of the United States is not going to appoint most of us to any important post.
When God was dealing with the people of Israel in the Old Testament, access to the Almighty Creator was not only severely limited – it was a terrifying thing.
Even Moses, the courageous leader of the nation, trembled in the fearful presence of the holy and omnipotent God. “I exceedingly fear and quake”, he said (Deuteronomy 9:19, Hebrews 12:21, KJV).
The Israelites would timidly follow Moses to the foot of Mount Sinai – “a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind” (Hebrews 12:18, NLT). Moses alone could ascend. Moses alone could make intercession for a sinful people and plead their case before a displeased Deity.
Engulfed in “blackness, and darkness, and tempest” (KJV), the holy mountain symbolized the awful gulf that stood between God and the human race. There was no real access to this God, only wrath and judgement; no bridge from mortal flesh to divine purity.
“For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking” (Hebrews 12: 19, NLT).
The story of Israel’s travail – the record of its sinful cycle of repentance and rebellion – is a revelation of man’s hopelessly fallen condition – then and now.
God kept his distance. People made sacrifices according to exact requirements. The priests made the people’s confession. It was not easy – their world was filled with the consuming awesomeness of an untouchable Maker.
“If even an animal touches the mountain,” God commanded, “it must be stoned to death” (verse 20, NLT).
The writer of Hebrews – a letter to Jewish Christians – pivots at this point and offers a beautiful contrast to all the gloom and doom he’s just described.
But this contrast doesn’t begin here.
It was magnificently symbolized the day Jesus Christ died on the cross.
As the earth rocked and the heavens wept, the mighty and impenetrable veil in the temple which separated the people from their God was torn asunder from top to bottom.
The way to a holy God was now made possible by what Jesus did when he took our sins upon himself. When he paid the price.
Access denied was now suddenly granted.
Paul said it directly to the Ephesians:
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18, KJV, emphasis added). Through Christ, God opened up a new life and a new way – simple in its beauty, profound in its meaning.
Equal access under God’s new law – his new covenant – had forever changed our relationship to him. Here was a new and brighter day.
Paul wrote in Romans:
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege …” (Romans 5:2, NLT).
You and I now have “access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (KJV, emphasis added).
A dreadful mountain reminding us of our sin and God’s unapproachability?
Not Mount Sinai anymore with all its fire and thunder.
“No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering” (Hebrews 12:22, NLT). There are the innumerable saints – “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” whose names are “written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-23, KJV).
I cannot envision that glorious scene without a lump in my throat.
What a difference Calvary made!
The mountain of foreboding replaced by the city of rejoicing.
And there, in the midst of it all, is Jesus our Lord, “the mediator of the new Covenant” (verse 24).
You and I have access to God.
That’s better than the NSC.
“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 4:15, NLT).
That’s real access.
Steve Bannon can have the White House.