A Fence Around God

God had a high-powered electric fence built around him at Mount Sinai. Well, hard to tell if it really was a fence, it was not electric, but it was some kind of boundary that if you crossed it or even touched it YOU WOULD DIE. We read about this in the Old Testament. Three months after leading the Israelites out of Egypt Moses is told, by the Lord, to prepare for his arrival at Mount Sinai.
Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death. (Exodus 19:10-12, NLT | read the context)
This seems strangely extreme to me from strictly a human perspective. To put this in proper perspective and context one must acknowledge that God is holy. Easy said, but dwell on that a bit.


Mike Taylor writes "What does that mean? It's hard for us to express because it's so alien to us. Holiness is the opposite of sin. It's not merely the absence of sin, or even the hatred of sin, but a total otherness from sin. It's an uncompromising purity, a terrifying dedication to what is good and right."

A. W. Tozer puts it this way "God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine."

John Piper says God "has an infinite love for what is infinitely valuable and an infinite hate for what opposes the infinitely valuable. His delight in praiseworthy things is unbounded, and his abhorrence of what is blameworthy is perfect."

Perhaps the more we try to comprehend the holiness of God the better we can understand the nature of the interaction between God and humans. Why does God act as he does with his people? Why the boundary? Why the separation?

As recorded in the bible the prophet Habakkuk acknowledges in speaking to the Lord,
"Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrong." (Habakkuk 1:13)
I suppose to put things in very simple terms, God is pure and people are impure. The pure and impure cannot come together without something explosive happening like immediate judgment and destruction of the impure. At the core of this is the purest form of justice.

I don't feel like I am really able to even express my thoughts adequately here. It is difficult to put into words concisely but, God's holiness required human boundaries. God in a very clear way set these limits to protect his people. Clear warnings are given. It is important to stress that if God's plan ended here, if this was the end the Bible, we would all probably be dead or at best running madly away from God. Certainly not seeking his presence. The good news is God found a way to compensate for our impurity. A way through the fence without immediate death, through the boundary to God. Yes even a way to change us from impure to pure. There is One Gate, one way. (John 10:7-9)!

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  1. Isn't it amazing to think of just how unworthy we are of pretty much anything aside from destruction? God seems so complex to us, but He is simplicity in its purest form. It never ceases to amaze me of how He is always out to protect us, but we do not always understand or see it that we. We just are not capable. I am so very thankful that God IS good.

  2. I wish we could edit our comments! :-) That's supposed to say, "or see it that WAY."

  3. Now we too can be holy. Consecrated by the blood of Jesus. 1 Peter 1:13-21

  4. Intuitively, I don't believe we could be satisfied if God, by very nature, were not incredibly Perfect and Holy. If we could approach him as tiny, finite humans apart from the grace of Jesus, His Son, it would make everything Jesus did insignificant, and it would make God less than God.

  5. What I get from this post is this: God is dangerous. And it is a danger that we often forget about because of that other aspect of God: he is a God of grace. Sometimes I think the God of American Evangelicalism is so much a "personal God" that it forgets He is also the HOLY God. Yes the radical good news of the New Testament is that, by grace, we can indeed have a direct relationship with God: in Christ, this Holy God has become our Father. But even in human relationships we treat those in positions of authority with deference and awe (at least we used to) with more "fear" than we relate to God the Father.

  6. "Without holiness, no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14). Holy living is a mark of all christians.

  7. Fitting image for your words, hey you won something, God is good. You can come over to claim the item when you like just need your address.

  8. God is holy indeed and therefor daily repentance is of utmost importance to receive He's grace and mercy.

  9. God is something imanen and transedental

  10. I so appreciate each of your comments on this post. I often struggle to find the right words and images to express accurately the heart of what I read in the Word. Writing a few paragraphs down never really encompasses my thoughts and often leave important points off to the side. I find the comments on this post really helpful and zero an important aspect to this fence and gate image that I should bring up here.

    I like the way DAVE WANG put it in his comment: "God is dangerous. And it is a danger that we often forget about because of that other aspect of God: he is a God of grace." He expands on this at his blog in a post titled The Fair at God's Fence. He points out that Christians especially here in the USA have surrounded this fence with a Fair atmosphere that can distract from the Gate. A fair that suggests a very casual relationship with God the Father. A relationship void of reverence.

    Both DAVE in his post and TONY in his comment here highlight 1 Peter 1:13-21. Verses 15, 16 and 17 read "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."

    Too many Christians have taken a relationship that is intended to be a father-child one and turned it into a buddy-buddy relationship and live lives without a reverent fear.

    The tension and balance found as one truly lives in GRACE and reverent FEAR before God is one of the things that ultimately effects our actions on a daily basis. Living while simultaneously embracing both the GRACE of God in Christ and God's Holiness should inform every thing we do as believers.

  11. Out of the topic but just dropping by today to share to you an on-going challenge in my site about sharing the gospel in 140 characters or less. Hope you can join: Tweet The Gospel

    God Bless you!

  12. It's always been interesting to me that God tells us to be holy too - "Be holy because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16. Only through the blood of Christ can we be holy. Great post.

  13. Working to get caught up with everyone's comments.

    Great idea Mikes. It is really hard in 140 characters.

    Nothing but the blood ... Amen Rita T. Thanks for stopping bye.

  14. Praise the Lord for HE MADE A WAY for us to cross the fence. apart from Christ we can really be dead now but with HIM the curtains to the Holy of Holies have been stripped from top to bottom giving us free access to God not by own means but through Him!

  15. Holiness is really something that we can never have enough of for now. We need to keep on meditating on God's holiness that we may see more of our sinfulness and hopefully deal with them. Thanks to Jesus, He made the way for us to make it to heaven, someday, made pure and holy. No more fences.


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