Picture with me for a moment the scene in the desert of Sinai when God descended on the mountain top and revealed Himself to the children of Israel. (If you have time read Exodus 19.)
Before God’s visit, Moses warned the people not to touch or even approach the mountain or they would die. When God arrived, a dense cloud enveloped the peak. Fire and smoke billowed upward almost blocking the sun. The ground shook violently. Thunder pounded. Lightening streaked across the sky. God’s holy presence so frightened the Israelites they begged Moses to be their mediator with God. They promised to listen and obey everything Moses passed along. (See Deut 5:23-27.)
Obedience was the exact thing God wanted from them. He revealed Himself to them for that very purpose:
Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai,where he told me, ‘Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will teach their children to fear me also.’ Deut 4:10, NLT
Israel responded in fearful obedience to the holiness of God. In his book, The Holiness of God, the great theologian R.C. Sproul says the word “holy” can be used as a synonym for God’s divine nature. “When the word holy is applied to God, it does not signify one single attribute. On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense… holy calls attention to all that God is.”
It was God’s holiness revealed (His glory) that caused the Israelites to fear Him. God’s very nature is the basis for godly fear. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament refers to the holiness of God as “totally good and entirely without evil… By definition, holiness is separate from all that is sinful and profane.” Because God is holy, He is “above the weaknesses and imperfections of mortals.” This truth is expressed in First John: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5b, NIV.
The holiness of God is the essence of His being. All the things we consider the attributes of God – like love, mercy, faithfulness, and righteousness – are expressions of His holy nature. God is good because He is holy. God is gracious because He is holy. And God is just because He is holy.
We should fear God because He is holy. Our holy God deserves our highest reference, awe, respect, honor, and obedience! God wants us to fear Him so we will obey Him. When we obey God we will be right in the center of His will for us. And the center of His will is always what’s best for us!
“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Deut 5:29, NIV
Tomorrow we will see how godly fear operates in the life of a believer who has gained access to our holy God through the blood of Christ.
How could contemplating God’s holiness expand your view of Him?