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.
GOD IS HOLY.
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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