The Holiness of God Cannot Be Seen (Exodus 19:21) - Radical

The Holiness of God Cannot Be Seen (Exodus 19:21)

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish.'”
-Exodus 19:21

Reading this verse, I am so overwhelmed right now, and this is why I want to read this first. And there’s so much here in Exodus chapter 19, but this verse in particular. So this is God saying to Moses, as he is meeting with his people at Mount Sinai, and God has told his people, “You cannot see me and live.” And God has invited Moses to come up on the mountain, but he has told Moses, and what he’s saying here in verse 21 is, “Keep all of the other people away lest they break through to look to the Lord and many of them perish.” God in his holiness cannot be seen. He’s a consuming fire. Hebrews chapter 10 refers back to this picture, talking about how God’s people couldn’t even get close to the top of the mountain.

And the whole picture right before this, we see thunders and lightnings and Mount Sinai wrapped in smoke because the Lord has descended on it in fire and he’s speaking in thunder. It’s an awesome, majestic scene. And I can just imagine the millions of people at the base of that mountain beholding this and being so afraid, like, “We can’t go close. Don’t break through,” and God says, “Tell them, don’t break through.” So we read this story in Exodus chapter 19, and then we think about what we’re about to do right now, what you and I are about to do in the form of a podcast, what you and I can do at any moment. By the blood of Jesus shed for our sins, you and I can enter into the presence of God. We can behold the glory of God. We can commune with God.

Think about this, what Moses got to experience on that mountain, in part, but not to the depth that even we can experience and what the people of God were scared to death of, you and I have been invited to commune with God anytime, any day, anywhere. And I just think about that reality. I was thinking about that this morning as I was spending time with God. And I’m thinking, the God of the universe and God who created everything, who rules sovereign over everything, I am spending time with him. I’m speaking to him. He’s listening to me. He’s speaking to me. He’s working in my heart. He’s hearing my cries. He’s bearing my burdens. This is God we’re talking about that you too know all, of you who’ve trusted in Jesus. You know, you experience communion with this God, and I just want to encourage you, don’t lose sight of how awesome a reality that is on a day-by-day basis on a moment-by-moment basis.

And then think about the message that we have to say to people around us and to say to the nations, “You can come to God. You can enjoy God. You can know God. You can experience eternal life in God. In fact, if you don’t come to him through Jesus, you will perish. You will experience eternal death.” And so, to think about the Tamboli people in Bangladesh, 230,000 who’ve never heard the good news of the Gospel that a way has been made open for them to know God. Oh God, we pray right now for the Tamboli people in Bangladesh. Please, of God, sends somebody to tell them the good news of how they can know you and enjoy you and experience communion with you like we get to experience any time anywhere. God, I pray over every single follower of Jesus, every single child of yours who’s listening to this right now that you would give us all a fresh awe of this privilege we have called prayer, that we can draw near to you, oh God, and you draw near to us.

Oh God, we want to experience that nearness in its fullness, what Moses himself could have only longed for and what the people at the base of that mountain didn’t even know to dream of. We have the privilege, even right now, we’re spending time with you. We’re communing with you. You’re hearing our prayers. You’re speaking to our hearts through your word. God, we praise you for communion with you. Jesus, we praise you for making this possible. We praise you for dying on the cross to cover over our sins, to make the way for us to come into the presence of God and to know eternal life, to know that this is what we’re going to experience in total fullness when we die.

All glory, be to your name, Oh God, for the privilege of being invited in to your presence, to experience life in your presence, we praise you for this privilege, we pray to you to help us to spread this privilege to others, to people around us, where we work, and where we live, to the Tamboli in Bangladesh and everywhere in between. Oh God, we pray these things by the blood of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, with awe before you. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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