I remember the evening when I heard Louise had been knocked down. Just 11 years old, she’d raced across the road, following a friend. No-one expected her to survive. She had an amazing voice, and had sung a solo in the Christmas nativity play a couple a weeks before. “All because of Him”. She made it to the hospital, with many broken bones, and was unconscious for over two weeks. The whole community prayed like never before. By Easter Sunday morning, she came to church (in a wheelchair, granted) and sang her solo, “All because of Him”. There was not a dry eye in the place. She went on to make a full recovery. God is sooooooo good.
But it doesn’t always turn out so well. That’s why we indoctrinate our kids so heavily on road safety. They can’t play around with these things and expect to live. It’s hard, but it’s fact. We have to give them very firm boundaries where roads are concerned. We limit their freedom for their own good.
So it was for the Israelites. God was going to descend onto Mount Sinai, and there was not a more dangerous place to be without God’s specific invitation. Boundaries were set so clearly, not one person crossed the line (Exodus 19:12-13). Moses ascended that mountain alone, and then Aaron was also invited up. The presence of God is so awesomely holy, man in his natural state cannot come close.
How have we got here? Many of us treat God as a chum; we take his kindness for granted; somehow we lose sight of just how overwhelmingly, gloriously, wonderfully holy God is. As one speaker put it – God Almighty, not God All-matey. On another occasion, when the ark was brought into the temple, God’s presence appeared in a cloud, and the priests could not stand to minister (2 Chronicles 5:14). How do we even come close to God?
Only by grace. Only because he bids us come. Only because when we accept his forgiveness, and our sins are washed clean by the precious blood of Jesus, he covers us in his cloak of righteousness. He makes us fit to approach his throne. What a good God we serve. He is my friend, but he is also Holy, Almighty God. Makes me realise afresh how wonderful is his grace.