“And you shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” Exodus 19:12, 13 (New American Standard Bible)
“God is love.” I’ve heard it mostly from folks who really want to have nothing to do with Him. In fact, that’s all they want to believe He is. Just love. Imagine the God of the Universe as a one-dimensional being. I don’t know anyone who is one-dimensional, do you? People tell me I have a sense of humor, but I can be serious, too. I love my grandkids and reveal to them great grace but if I need to be firm with them I can be. I’m capable of compassion but I can also stand for justice when it is warranted. I am surely not one-dimensional and neither is any other human being so why is God only love to the majority?
Today’s verses sound pretty harsh, don’t they? Most folks won’t see that God demanded the Israelites respect His awesome holiness, instead they will see in these verses a vengeful and terror inducing deity who would kill anyone who approached Him. Why is God so serious about it? Holiness is the first thing He wants to be known for, not His love. I smile at that recalling when I taught on this a few years back I asked my group if God wanted to be known first for His love or His holiness. Every one of them to a person said “love” and gasped in astonishment when I said “He wants to be known first for His holiness.” My point is He is just not one character trait.
God’s personality is well-rounded and not one-dimensional. While He is neither all love He is neither all thunder and lightning. While He is indeed love He is so much more for me. He is multi-dimensional. He is my provider (Genesis 22:13, 14), my health (Exodus 15:26), my banner (Exodus 17:8-15), my peace (Judges 6:24), my shepherd (Psalm 23:1), my righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6), and is always present for me (Ezekiel 48:35). Personally, I’m glad He isn’t just love. His being so much more means He has so much more to offer me as His child and His perfect holiness makes all of that for me perfect.