WHO MAY ASCEND INTO THE HILL OF THE LORD?
This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek His face – even Jacob.
(Psalm 24:6, NASB.)
The age of grace has in some way presented an opportunity among men to familiarize themselves in the presence of God. Not because the Father intended this familiarisation, but because man so easily create for himself the more acceptable option in any dire situation. We are indeed grateful for God’s grace, and so grateful for what He accomplished for us through it; yet, it is to our own advantage to keep in mind exactly what Almighty God intended for man through His grace, namely, reconciliation with the God of grace!
Let’s first and foremost remember God. Even though He is compassionate and gracious, Almighty God is also perfect in HOLINESS. The apostle Paul describes God’s appearance of perfect holiness as follow, ‘He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; who no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen,’ (1 Tim 6:15-16). God’s holiness, according to the apostle John, can really be likened unto the full capacity and strength of the burning sun, ‘And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all,’ (1 John 1:5).
If we meditate on these passages, we gather that Almighty God, who created the universe through His Word (Rev 4:8-11), is absolutely pure in holiness. Nothing can endure the full strength of the sun. Even so, NO-ONE tainted by sin can ever appear before the throne of the Ancient of Days and live, (Psalm 24).
The prophet Isaiah portrayed this very important issue in his vision of Almighty God’s purity in holiness, relating his awe and fear of God: ‘And the foundation of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. And I (Isaiah) said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts,”’ (Is 6:4-5). [Insertion added by the author. Please read Isaiah 6:1-7 for the context of this encounter.] Thus we have many other encounters by various prophets relating the same awe and fear in the actual presence of Almighty God. [See Ezekiel 1 with emphasis on verse 28.]
When the great prophet of old, Moses, requested and audience in the very presence of Almighty God, he asked, ‘“I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” And He (Almighty God) said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”’ (Ex 33:18-20). [Insertion added by the author.]
It is exactly from this encounter that we glean the paradox between God’s grace and His holiness, for it is indeed exactly how the Almighty revealed Himself to us through Moses: ‘Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquities of the fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” And Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship,’ (Ex 34:6-8)
In our attempt to understand the grace of God, let us first enter into His holy presence with fear and trembling, for He who is gracious is also the One who lives in unapproachable light, remaining impartial in His judgments, (Rom 2:1-11).