We have a fireplace in our house. It’s nice to be able to start up a nice fire and warm up the living room. When you’re really chilled, you can even go sit on the edge in front of it. That sure feels good! But sit there too long, or sit too close, and ouch! It hurts. It’s a good thing, but you can only get so close. We can’t handle fire. We’re not made of asbestos.
Now, take an all – powerful, perfectly holy God, and the same is true. His presence is good, but there’s also something terrifying and dangerous there! Just like our human skin can’t take the heat of a fire, neither can our imperfect human selves take the full blast of God’s glory. We can’t fully “see” God and live.
Ex. 19:21, God has descended onto Mt. Sinai. The smoke from the top of the mountain roars up like a furnace. God’s thunder shakes the earth. He warns Moses “Make sure the people don’t break through the fence to gaze at Me. They’ll die. As God says in v. 20 “no one may see me and live.”