January 29, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the Lord said to him, ‘Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.’”—Exodus 19:20–22 (NIV)
As Jackie Hill Perry wrote in her new book Holier Than Thou, “To say that God is holy is to say that God is God. . . . Holiness is not an aspect of God; holy is who he is through and through. His attributes are never at odds with one another, nor do they switch places depending on God’s mood; they are him.” Holiness is a concept we’ve forgotten about over the years. If holiness is God, then we can better understand why He told the Israelites not to force their way through to see Him. Because of God’s holiness, He cannot be in the presence of sin and darkness without acting in some way to eliminate the sin and darkness. Out of His love and grace for His people; however, He gives them specific instructions through Moses for their best interest. In order to remain faithful and lavish His mercy on them, He must clearly articulate His commands.
Think about taking a college class. Most times, college professors will give their students a syllabus with all the instructions for succeeding in their course throughout the semester. If the professor is experienced and prepared, their syllabus will likely never change and the assignments will be detailed within it. This allows the students to live, learn, succeed, and grow throughout the class as long as they obey and follow the syllabus diligently. This is essentially what God does for His people by instructing them to not force their way through to see Him on the mountain. This analogy can also be extended to any time God instructs His people to do something. He always has our best interest in mind and, when we trust that, we can trust that our obedience to His commands will be the best way forward.
Another quote from Perry’s book reads, “If God is holy, then he can’t sin. If God can’t sin, then he can’t sin against me. If he can’t sin against me, shouldn’t that make him the most trustworthy being there is?” When we view God as some big guy in the sky who decides some days to be nice and some days to be cruel, we will never trust Him. We must view Him through the lens of Scripture and allow His truth to illuminate His hand in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.
After all, the first phrase in today’s passage begins with saying, “The Lord descended.” He came down from His throne to meet His people in a more personal way while maintaining His holiness, and we get to live in a time that looks back on the beautiful descent of Christ, the very Son of God and the Word made flesh, whose descent allowed for us to be redeemed, reconciled, and renewed. Thank God for His holiness which “is what makes real love possible” (Jackie Hill Perry Holier Than Thou).
Pause: How does this passage impact the way you view the Lord?
Practice: Spend time meditating and reflecting on the holiness of God and thanking Him for making you holy in Christ!
Pray: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; all the earth is full of His glory. Thank You, holy, good, and perfect Lord. Thank You for allowing me to know You! Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.