Exodus 15:11


As long as these deities - the deities, say, of Egypt, Philistia, Edom, Moab, Canaan - were simply to be compared among themselves, there might be room for rivalries among them; there might be reasons for asserting superiority because of a more splendid worship and a larger host of worshippers. But, when Jehovah steps in upon the scene, all discussions as to the comparative excellences of other deities cease to have interest. The most renowned of them becomes of no more account than the most obscure. Even the temple of the great goddess Diana is then despised, and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. At Ephesus, under the very shadow of the far famous building, Paul persuades and turns away much people, saying that they be no gods which are made with hands. Whether stars be of the first magnitude or not ceases to be a question of interest when the sun rises; for then they all vanish alike. "Who is like unto thee, Jehovah, among the gods?" Nor is this question left as a mere vague vociferation. It is pursued into instructive detail, and illustrated by the mention of three particular features of pre-eminence. These words are spoken with the signs of Jehovah's glory right before the eyes of those who speak. Not mere symbolic signs, such as the burning bush, the rod changed to a serpent, and the leprous hand; but signs that were also great benefits and judgments. Fresh from the miraculous passage, and with the destruction of Pharaoh's host scarcely faded from their eyes, these singers of praise very fitly ask, Who is like to Jehovah, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises doing wonders?

I. GLORIOUS IN HOLINESS. Some word is needed to indicate the distinction between deity and all lesser existence, and that word we find in "holiness." Hence holiness and even some sort of glory in their holiness might be attributed to all the gods. All places and symbols associated with them would be approached with scrupulous veneration and only too often with abject terror. But who had such holiness as Jehovah possessed? We may take the question as running - "Whose glory in holiness is like unto thine?" Then, standing in our position as Christians, with the light we thus enjoy, and considering all the conceptions of Deity which our present knowledge of the world, in all lands and through past ages, supplies, we can put this question with a richness of meaning which was not possible to Moses or to his brother Israelites. Consider the deities of the Grecian and Roman mythology - for with that we are perhaps best acquainted - or any deities the wide world over, either among barbarous peoples or civilised; and then consider the Jehovah of the Hebrew Scriptures, the God who revealed himself more fully and in due time by his Son. Look how the worship of an idolater drags him down. Think of the unutterable prostitution and sensualities connected with certain idolatries. Think of those miserable parents in whom idolatry had so destroyed natural affection that they could cause their sons and daughters to pass through the fire to Moloch. Many are rigorous, fanatical and even furious in their religion, who yet show by their lives that they care nothing for great duties; their religion, alas! seems to make them worse instead of better. How great, then, is the privilege of him who has indeed come to perceive that Jehovah is glorious in holiness! He is light, and in him is no darkness at all. lie is love - such love as is set forth in John 3:16. His wrath is revealed against all unrighteousness of men. The very nation that he chose, sanctified and cherished, he made to be "scattered and peeled," because it would not do righteousness according to his will. What a cheering and inspiring thing to turn from the inspection of our own hearts with its dismal results, and from our observation of the seething selfishness of the world, to think of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ! For Christ moves before us in the beauty of holiness, a great, attractive, rebuking reality; and we know that as is the Son, so is the Father; as is the visible and Incarnate One, so is the invisible and purely spiritual Jehovah above. It is through the Son we know the Father; and it is everything to feel that he is not a mere imagination. He is drawing us to himself; so that as he is glorious in the holiness of the Uncreated and Pure, so we, even though sadly fallen, may become glorious in the holiness of the restored and the perfected. We have yet to sing the new song from those who are glorious in the holiness of matured sonship to him who is glorious in the holiness of our Father in heaven.

II. FEARFUL IN PRAISES. Though this expression is beyond exact definition, yet it is obvious that a certain way of understanding it is appropriate to the present occasion. Jehovah is a God to be praised for his terrible doings. It is part of his very holiness that he makes that holiness to be respected by his treatment of those who presumptuously despise it. If he he not approached with reverence and obeyed with promptitude, and from the heart, he can make the irreverent ones to feel the evil consequences. He is not one to make claims which he cannot authenticate and enforce. It was not as the priest of some foreign deity, with empty pomp, that Moses came forth before Pharaoh, trusting by a great show to terrify him into acquiescence. There is manifested power; power so widespread and various in its manifestations, so overwhelming in its concluding operations, that even the most ignorant can appreciate it. If God is not loved, he must be feared; if his good and perfect gifts are not accepted, then his visitations of perfect and holy wrath must take their place. The mercies for which Israel had now to praise Jehovah were such as could not be sung without recounting an awful story. Nor must we ever shrink from dwelling on such scenes when needed. We must praise God for his severity to the wicked, as much as for anything else. We could not truly praise him for his love, unless we were also able to praise him far his wrath.

III. DOING WONDERS. Here is another peculiar Divine prerogative. Jehovah does wonders such as none among the gods can do. One has almost forgotten the magicians, it is so long since they retreated into obscurity and shame. This is praise to Jehovah, which at once pushed aside all magicians and pretenders to the supernatural. The wonders they do would cease to be wonders, if they would only allow us to become a little better acquainted with them; and not only would they cease to be wonders, they would even become despicable, as we consider the lying with which they are supported, and the knavish ends for which they are produced. A conjurer's tricks are only like common things hidden away; show us where they are hidden, and the mystery ceases. The mystery is in the concealment and nothing else. But Jehovah's dealings, as in Egypt, are true wonders. They are brought out to the light so that all men can gaze on them and examine them, and the more they are examined the more mysterious they prove, it would not be good for us - it would, indeed, be very bad, as starving a thing as could happen to our imagination and our highest capacities of enjoyment - were we to cease from wondering in the presence of God. Wonder must ever arise within us when we consider his operations, alike in nature and in grace. - Y.









Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods?
I. WHO IS LIKE UNTO THEE, O LORD, AMONG THE GODS?

1. King of kings and Lord of lords! Who among the gods is like unto Thee in majesty and power? Well might Israel exultingly make this inquiry.

2. Who is like unto Thee in the ineffable purity of Thy nature? "Glorious in holiness!"

3. Who is like unto Thee in the solemnity and sanctity of Thy worship? — "fearful in praises!" The gloriously holy God is alone worthy to be praised, but that praise ought to be offered with "reverence and godly fear."

II. WHO DOES LIKE THEE? — "doing wonders."

1. The wonders alluded in the text were undoubtedly the miracles recently wrought by Jehovah for the salvation of His people. "Thou art the God that doest wonders," etc. (Psalm 77:14-20).

2. But not only miracles, which imply an inversion or suspension of the laws of nature, but nature and her laws — every part of the work of God in the heavens and in the earth is wonderful, and amply shows forth the power and wisdom of the Creator (Job 37:14-23; Psalm 8:3, 4; Psalm 19:1-7). If we only study our own frame, we shall be led to exclaim with the Psalmist, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made!"

3. The Lord sometimes does wonders in judgment, flood, etc.

4. The Lord does wonders in mercy. Redemption.

(B. Bailey.)

Glorious in holiness
Plutarch said not amiss, that he should count himself less injured by that man that should deny that there was such a man as Plutarch, than by him that should affirm that there was such a one indeed, but he was a debauched fellow, a loose and vicious person. He that saith, God is not holy, speaks much worse than he that saith, There is no God at all. Let these two things be considered:

1. If any, this attribute hath an excellency above His other perfections.(1) None is sounded out with such solemnity, and so frequently by angels that stand before His throne, as this.(2) He singles it out to swear by (Psalm 89:35; Amos 4:2).(3) It is His glory and beauty. Holiness is the honour of the creature — sanctification and honour are linked together (1 Thessalonians 4:4) — much more is it the honour of God; it is the image of God in the creature (Ephesians 4:24).(4) It is His very life; so it is called (Ephesians 4:18).

2. As it seems to challenge an excellency above all His other perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest; as it is the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead; as His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them. Should this be sullied, all the rest would lose their honour and their comfortable efficacy; as at the same instant that the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its generative and quickening virtue.

I. THE NATURE OF DIVINE HOLINESS. The holiness of God negatively is a perfect freedom from all evil. As we call gold pure that is not imbased by any dross, and that garment clean that is free from any spot, so the nature of God is estranged from all shadow of evil, all imaginable contagion. Positively, it is the rectitude of the Divine nature, or that conformity of it in affection and action to the Divine will as to His eternal law, whereby He works with a becomingness to His own excellency, and whereby He hath a complacency in everything agreeable to His will, and an abhorrency of everything contrary thereunto. In particular. This property of the Divine nature is —

1. An essential and necessary perfection. He is essentially and necessarily holy. His holiness is as necessary as His being, as necessary as His omniscience.

2. God is absolutely holy (1 Samuel 2:2).

3. God is so holy, that He cannot possibly approve of any evil done by another, but doth perfectly abhor it; it would not else be a glorious holiness (Psalm 5:3), "He hath no pleasure in wickedness." He doth not only love that which is just, but abhor with a perfect hatred all things contrary to the rule of righteousness. Holiness can no more approve of sin than it can commit it.

4. God is so holy, that He cannot but love holiness in others. Not that He owes anything to His creature, but from the unspeakable holiness of His nature, whence affections to all things that bear a resemblance of Him do flow; as light shoots out from the sun, or any glittering body. It is essential to the infinite righteousness of His nature, to love righteousness wherever He beholds it (Psalm 11:7).

5. God is so holy, that He cannot positively will or encourage sin in any.

6. God cannot act any evil in or by Himself.

II. THE PROOF THAT GOD IS HOLY.

1. His holiness appears as He is Creator, in framing man in a perfect uprightness.

2. His holiness appears in His laws, as He is a Lawgiver and a Judge. This purity is evident —(1) In the moral law, or law of nature;(2) In the ceremonial law;(3) In the allurements annexed to it for keeping it, and the affrightments to restrain from the breaking of it;(4) In the judgments inflicted for the violation of it.

3. The holiness of God appears in our restoration. It is in the glass of the gospel we "behold the glory of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18); that is, the glory of the Lord, into whose image we are changed; but we are changed into nothing as the image of God but into holiness. We bore not upon us by creation, nor by regeneration, the image of any other perfection. We cannot be changed into His omnipotence, omniscience, etc., but into the image of His righteousness. This is the pleasing and glorious sight the gospel mirror darts in our eyes. The whole scene of redemption is nothing else but a discovery of judgment and righteousness. "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness (Isaiah 1:27).(1) This holiness of God appears in the manner of our restoration, viz., by the death of Christ.(2) The holiness of God in His hatred of sin appears in our justification, and the conditions He requires of all that would enjoy the benefit of redemption.(3) It appears in the actual regeneration of the redeemed soul, and a carrying it on to a full perfection. As election is the effect of God's sovereignty, our pardon the fruit of His mercy, our knowledge a stream from His wisdom, our strength an impression of His power, so our purity is a beam from His holiness. The whole work of sanctification, and the preservation of it, our Saviour begs for His disciples of His Father under this title (John 17:11, 17).

III. The third thing I am to do, is to LAY DOWN SOME PROPOSITIONS IN THE DEFENCE OF GOD'S HOLINESS IN ALL HIS ACTS ABOUT OR CONCERNING SIN.

1. God's holiness is not chargeable with any blemish, for His creating man in a mutable slate. It was suitable to the wisdom of God to give the rational creature, whom He had furnished with a power of acting righteously, the liberty of choice, and not fix him in an unchangeable state, without a trial of him in his natural. And if he did obey, his obedience might be the more valuable; and if he did freely offend, his offence might be more inexcusable.(1) No creature can be capable of immutability by nature. Mutability is so essential to a creature, that a creature cannot be supposed without it.(2) Though God made the creature mutable, yet He made Him not evil. There could be nothing of evil in him that God created after His own image, and pronounced good (Genesis 1:27, 31).(3) Therefore it follows, that though God created man changeable, yet He was not the cause of his change by his fall.

2. God's holiness is not blemished by enjoining man a law which He knew he would not observe.(1) The law was not above his strength.(2) Though the law now be above the strength of man, yet is not the holiness of God blemished by keeping it up. It is true, God hath been graciously pleased t,, mitigate the severity of the law by the entrance of the gospel; yet, where men refuse the terms of the gospel they continue themselves under the condemnation of the law, and are justly guilty of the breach of it, though they have no strength to observe it.(3) God's foreknowledge that His law would not be observed lays no blame upon Him. Though the foreknowledge of God be infallible, yet it doth not necessitate the creature in acting.

3. The holiness of God is not blemished by decreeing the eternal rejection of some men.

4. The holiness of God is not blemished by His secret will to suffer sin to enter into the world. God never willed sin by His preceptive will. It was never founded upon, or produced by any word of His, as the creation was. Nor doth He will it by His approving will; it is detestable to Him, nor ever can be otherwise. He cannot approve it either before commission or after.

IV. The point was, THAT HOLINESS IS A GLORIOUS PERFECTION OF THE NATURE OF GOD. We have showed the nature of this holiness in God, what it is, and we have demonstrated it, and proved that God is holy, and must needs be so, and also the purity of His nature in all His acts about sin. Let us now improve it by way of use.

1. Is holiness a transcendent perfection belonging to the nature of God? The first use shall be of instruction and information.(1) How great and how frequent is the contempt of this eminent perfection in the Deity!(2) It may inform us how great is our fall from God, and how distant we are from Him.(3) All unholiness is vile and opposite to the nature of God.(4) Sin cannot escape a due punishment. A hatred of unrighteousness, and consequently a will to punish it, is as essential to God as a love of righteousness.(5) There is therefore a necessity of the satisfaction of the holiness of God by some sufficient mediator. The Divine purity could not meet with any acquiescence in all mankind after the Fall.(6) Hence it will follow, there is no justification of a sinner by anything in himself.

2. The second use is for comfort. This attribute frowns upon lapsed nature, but smiles in the restorations made by the gospel.

3. Is holiness an eminent perfection of the Divine nature? Then —(1) Let us get and preserve right and strong apprehensions of this Divine perfection.(2) Is holiness a perfection of the Divine nature? Is it the glory of the Deity? Then let us glorify this holiness of God.(3) Since holiness is an eminent perfection of the Divine nature, let us labour after a conformity to God in this perfection.(4) If holiness be a perfection belonging to the nature of God, then, where there is some weak conformity to the holiness of God, let

us labour to grow up in it, and breathe after fuller measures of it.(5) Let us carry ourselves holily in a spiritual manner in all our religious approaches to God (Psalm 93:5).(6) Let us address for holiness to God the fountain of it. As He is the author of bodily life in the creature, so He is the author of His own life, the life of God in the soul.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

No creature can be essentially holy but by participation from the chief fountain of holiness, but we must have the same kind of holiness, the same truth of holiness; as a short line may be as straight as another, though it parallel it not in the immense length of it; a copy may have the likeness of the original, though not the same perfection. We cannot be good without eyeing some exemplar of goodness as the pattern. No pattern, is so suitable as that which is the highest goodness and purity. That limner that would draw the most excellent piece fixes his eye upon the most excellent pattern. He that would be a good orator, or poet, or artificer, considers some person most excellent in each kind as the object of his imitation. Who so fit as God to be viewed as the pattern of holiness in our intendment of, and endeavours after, holiness? The Stoics, one of the best sects of philosophers, advised their disciples to pitch upon some eminent example of virtue, according to which to form their lives, as Socrates, etc. But true holiness doth not only endeavour to live the life of a good man, but chooses to live a Divine life. As before the man was "alienated from the life of God," so upon his return he aspires after the life of God. To endeavour to be like a good man is to make one image like another, to set our clocks by other clocks without regarding the sun; but true holiness consists in a likeness to the most exact sampler. God being the first purity, is the rule as well as the spring of all purity in the creature, the chief and first object of imitation.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

There is as little proportion between the holiness of the Divine majesty and that of the most righteous creature, as there is between the nearness of a person that stands upon a mountain to the sun, and of him that beholds him in a vale; one is nearer than the other, but it is an advantage not to be boasted, in regard of the vast distance that is between the sun and the elevated spectator.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

God is essentially, originally, and efficiently holy: all the holiness in men and angels is but a crystal stream that runs from this glorious ocean. God loves holiness, because it is His own image. A king cannot but love to see his own effigies stamped on coin. God counts holiness His own glory, and the most sparkling jewel of His crown. "Glorious in holiness."

( T. Watson.)

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