The Attribute of God We’ve Forgotten

If there’s a way God is most thought of these days, I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not holy. First off you can’t turn the TV on without hearing his name misused. Nor can you walk down the hallway at school or buy Christmas tree ornaments for that matter. (Yes, I saw “OMG” on a Christmas Tree ornament last year. After gasping in sheer revulsion, I ran for my life in fear of the store going up in flames.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 19:9-25
Key Verse: “You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments.” Nehemiah 9:13


Then there’s the flippant way we talk about God. (As though he owes us something.) The lax way we approach God. (As though it ain’t no thing.) And the general way we feel about God and His word. (Most days we could take it or leave it.)

But God, He is holy. Set apart. There is none like him; perfect in goodness; flawless in righteousness. A consuming fire, He is to be worshiped with reverence and awe (Heb. 12:28-29). Dwelling in unapproachable light, God is so holy it is unsafe to just barge into his presence. The only way to enter is to be holy thy self. “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:3-4a). A feat accomplished only in Christ.

So when God announced to Moses that he was going to come down on Mt. Sinai and meet the people – there was some serious preparing to do. For two days they got ready. Verse 14 says they washed their garments and Moses consecrated them. How? It doesn’t tell us. Perhaps by offering sacrifices on behalf of the people. For without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb. 9:22)

Furthermore, they were to abstain from sex and anyone, young or old, who even touched the edge of the mountain was to be killed. It was serious stuff. God’s presence was not to be taken lightly.

Then on the morning of the third day, “there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled” (v. 16). Even the mountain trembled at God’s arrival (v. 18) and smoke went up from it like a kiln, “because the LORD had descended on it in fire” (v. 18).

Consequently, when Isaiah had a vision of God sitting on the throne, “the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke” (Is. 6:4). Then later when John got a glimpse of God’s throne in Revelation we find out, “From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings, and peals of thunder” (Rev. 4:5).

So I don’t think the thunder and lightning was there just for effect. God himself had descended on the mountain. Shrouding himself in smoke so the Israelites would not be consumed in the presence of His glory.

And when the Israelites heard the trumpet blast they didn’t pat each other on the back saying, “Hey cool! There’s God!” No, they were terrified. And so was Moses for that matter (Heb. 12:21).

So terrified in fact, the people told Moses, “Hey from now on, why don’t you just go up and talk to God and then let us know what he says. Deal?” (My paraphrase.)

Which in turn, pleased the LORD. “They are right in all they have spoken. Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments” (Deut. 5:28b-29a). Why was God pleased?

Because reverence for God determines the godliness of our response.

To set apart Christ as holy (1 Peter 3:15) is to determine that His honor and glory come first. God’s holiness is everything. It’s why we do what we do. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Just as Leviticus 19:2 says, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

So to disregard the holiness of God is to disregard all reason for godly living.

Which is where I think we’ve gotten off track. No longer is God esteemed as he should be. If He were, we’d uphold his commands as invaluable. We’d respect His words. We’d fear the God who is able to save and destroy. Like a student under the watchful eye of a head master, we’d do what we’ve been told, instead of weeding through the stuff we like and rejecting the things we don’t.

To revere God is to fear God. Not in the sense of being afraid because we know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), but to be in awe of Him. To tremble in the wake of His vast glory, as Israel did the day they saw God descend on Mt. Sinai.

He is still the same God today as He was then. Just because we’ve been declared holy by the blood of Christ and allowed to enter God’s presence, doesn’t mean God is any less holy. It simply means He is kind. And merciful. And abounding in love to a thousand generations. Nonetheless, that’s the temptation, isn’t it? To bring God down to our level.  To diminish His excellency.

We’re quick to forget we haven’t been invited to the throne through any means of our own. We’re on the guest list because of Christ. God owes us nothing, yet we owe him everything.

He is still untouchable. He is still to be feared. He is still to be praised. Honored with our mouths and respected in our homes. Yet where has the reverence gone? Why has the adoration subsided?

Oh that we might fear God as Israel did the day they heard His voice and saw the mountain quake at His presence. For we too have heard His voice. Not audibly of course, but in our hearts, the day he called each of us to repentance.

And He is with us. His presence a promise we can hold fast to. Yet He is still God my friend. Holy and awesome, there is none like Him. “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you think God’s holiness is lost or upheld in the church today? What about in the home?
Why should God’s holiness motivate us to live upright and obedient lives?
What choices have you made to honor God as holy?

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The Role of a Believer. It May Surprise You.

Monumental spiritual moments don’t come every day. Though I wouldn’t mind if they did. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? The undeniable moments God makes his power and faithfulness so clear, you must cease what you’re doing to take it in. At times it’s simply been a verse leaping off the page of my Bible into the gaps of my anxious heart; filling me with assurance I’d prayed to gain the day before.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 19:1-8
Key Verse: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9


Other times, it’s been an answered prayer, a protection, or a perfectly timed word of encouragement from a friend. A vivid reminder, my God is faithful. Perhaps I’ve jarred your memory to a few of your own monumental moments. Well, I think it’s safe to say Moses had a few as well – some more obvious than others. And I’m willing to guess one such moment took place at the beginning of chapter nineteen -with Israel’s arrival at Mt. Sinai.

Why was this such a big deal? Because Mt. Sinai is the mountain where God first called Moses. Also called Mt. Horeb, it’s where the burning bush took place. It’s where God soothed Moses’ anxious mind with the following promise: “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Ex. 3:12).

A lofty promise. One only attainable by a sovereign God. But here in Exodus 19, it’s fulfilled. They’d made it, just as God said. With every Israelite young and old accounted for, God brought the people safely to the mountain, safely to himself (v.4). (Is there any better place to be?)

Then while all the people camped below, Moses went up to God. As though he was headed to the neighbor’s house to say hello.

(But honestly, isn’t that the goal? A relationship with the Father so embedded in my life it’s the most natural thing to knock on His door the instant I get home?)

And God said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

In other words, remind them Moses how faithful I’ve been. How I protected them. How I’ve provided. How I carried them, while they had nothing to do with it. And then say to them:

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:5-6a).

Freed from slavery it was time to talk about obedience. Time to talk about the guidelines, a.k.a. laws. But note God didn’t bring this up until after he saved the Israelites. If obedience to the law had been required for redemption, there never would have been a redemption.

Saved by grace to live for His glory, it’s important not to get the order confused. It wasn’t the law that saved them, it was God. But it was living according to the law that would bring them blessing.

Huge, wonderful blessings like being God’s treasured possession among all the nations.

Can we just sit in that for a minute? The world is God’s. The universe is God’s. Created by Him and for Him and through Him. Yet his most valued, most cherished belonging – is a heart fully devoted to him. Specifically, a people fully devoted to him. It’s why the church is the bride of Christ.

God loves it. It’s why His eyes “run to a fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Additionally, the other big blessing Israel would have (if they set their minds on obedience), is to be a kingdom of priests.

Not that it was God’s desire to have them all walking around in robes with an ephod on their shirt. But a kingdom of priests in the sense that every person declared the glory and goodness of God by what they talked about, how they acted, responded, and lived in a world always a little off kilter. Pointing people to the Creator with every breath they took.

With that definition in mind, can you imagine the effect on a broken world if and when there was an entire nation of God following priests?

Yet this was God’s desire! This was God’s plan! For Israel to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. That they might know the blessing of sharing God’s love with others. And be the pathway by which the rest of the world could experience their own monumental spiritual moments.

But did they do it? No, they didn’t. They forsook God for idols. They set aside His laws and made up their own. Getting pulled in by the world instead of pulling the world toward God.

Then the most amazing thing happened. The most glorious of all monumental spiritual moments – God himself hung on a cross and paid the penalty for their sins. Our sins.

That we too might be His treasured possession. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

And it’s His desire as it was for Israel that we be a holy people, a priesthood, living day after day not in robes with an ephod on our clothing, but in such a way that we lead others to Him. Declaring day by day the marvelous majesty of a God who saved us out of darkness and brought us into the light!

It’s every believer’s job to preach in this world, but not necessarily from a pulpit, though God calls some to do just that. But from the kitchen table. From the grocery store checkout lane. From the family room. From the office. (You get the idea.) Living in such a way that holiness speaks louder than hell, we preach grace and peace and love and truth to a world in desperate need of knowing Him.

But the question is, are we doing it? Are we preaching the excellencies of Christ so not just we, but they, the world, may have their own monumental spiritual moments?

It’s a job God’s granted us because he knows there’s great blessing in doing it. And a position I think it’s time we recognize. We aren’t just a people sitting around with little to do. We’re the priesthood my friend. God’s treasured possession and we’ve got a job to do.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Whether we like it or not, everyone is preaching something. So by your actions and attitude what have you been preaching lately?
How does thinking of yourself as part of the priesthood make you want to change your behavior? Would you say you are a worthy member of the priesthood? Why or why not?

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