When Yehovah gives the Decalogue on Mount Sinai, descending from Heaven to speak with Man in Person, the children of Israel immediately retreat and ask Moses to speak on God’s behalf; they don’t want to interact directly with God Himself. Their reason? God might accidentally kill them. (Ex 20:18-19)
Aren’t they accusing the Creator of being reckless, of not knowing what He’s doing, of not caring? Isn’t this our depravity on display? God is choosing Israel as His special treasure (Ex 19:5) and has just delivered them from slavery in spectacular fashion (Ex 19:4) … and now He isn’t able to speak to people without killing them? Really?
God could as easily smash the earth between His thumb and forefinger (Is 40:15); if God wanted to take them out, stepping back from the mount and asking Moses to step in isn’t going to help. What are they thinking?
This isn’t just a problem with Israel, we’re all like this at heart. Man’s instinctive reaction to holiness is aversion (Ro 8:7); instead of seeking God we run and hide. (Ro 3:11) Our iniquity is relentless, irrational, inexcusable; bleeding forth and seeping out at every turn, defying, hiding, accusing, attacking and blaming divinity without shame or concern. Men not only defy Omnipotence, knowing they deserve death, they take pleasure in others joining in. (Ro 1:32)
It’s a mystery, certainly, how and why the human heart is so evil. (2Th 2:7) Resisting, dishonoring, or defying an infinitely powerful, omnipresent, holy Being is simply insane; it can never be rational. It does, however, serve a purpose: to reveal God’s justice, wrath and power. (Ro 9:22) He only allows what will eventually glorify Himself. (Ps 76:10)
God is restraining Man’s wickedness for now (2Th 2:7), so we don’t yet know its full extent. (Jer 17:9) One day we’ll see it unchained; men will defy God, blaspheming Him to His face rather than turning from their wickedness. (Re 16:11) We’ll see them prefer eternal Hell itself to loving God and ending His suffering.
Truth is we’re all utterly depraved when left to ourselves (Ps 53:2-3); we’ve nothing to boast in; apart from God’s restraining grace we’d all be defying Him. (1Co 1:29-31) Let’s not be surprised at sin, but hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (1Ti 3:9) In humility, let’s fear the living God, esteeming others better than ourselves, giving thanks for all things (Ep 5:20) and remembering that God works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ep 1:11), for our good and for His glory. (Ro 8:28)