MAY 4 – GOD’S HOLINESS

Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

—Exodus 15:11

They say that when Leonardo DaVinci painted his famous Last Supper he had little difficulty with any of it except the faces. Then he painted the faces in without too much trouble except one. He did not feel himself worthy to paint the face of Jesus. He held off and kept holding off, unwilling to approach it but knowing he must. Then in the impulsive carelessness of despair, he just painted it quickly and let it go. “There is no use,” he said. “I can’t paint Him.”

I feel very much the same way about explaining the holiness of God. I think that same sense of despair is on my heart. There isn’t any use for anybody to try to explain holiness. The greatest speakers on this subject can play their oratorical harps, but it sounds tinny and unreal, and when they are through you’ve listened to music but haven’t seen God.

I suppose the hardest thing about God to comprehend intellectually is His infinitude. But you can talk about the infinitude of God and not feel yourself a worm. But when you talk about the holiness of God, you have not only the problem of an intellectual grasp, but also a sense of personal vileness, which is almost too much to bear. AOG157-158

Make me that sensitive to Your holiness, O God, that I might indeed be aware of my vileness and fall before You in humility and confession. Amen. [1]


11 Strophe III: Part A: Exordium. The song now turns to the theological interpretation and significance of all that was done. Using the formula for incomparability—“Who is like you” (mî-kāmōkâ; cf. Pss 35:10; 71:19; 77:13; 89:6; 113:5; Mic 7:18; Labuschagne, 22, 66–77, 94–97)—Israel proclaims that God’s exclusive uniqueness had been demonstrated and “proven powerful by his [NIV, ‘majestic in’] holiness” (qōdeš) and his “awesome wonders” (nôrāʾ) or “miracles” (peleʾ; see Notes on 4:21). No other “gods” (ʾēlîm, whose reality is neither affirmed nor denied at this point; cf. 12:12) can do what the Lord had done. The defeat of the Egyptians is simultaneously a defeat of their gods—who are nothings and nonexistent in every sense![2]


15:11 In light of the events that have taken place, the rhetorical questions of this verse imply that there is no one among the gods of the nations like the Lord (see also 12:12; 20:3). In a similar song, Hannah proclaims the complementary answers to the questions of this verse: “There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2).[3]


15:11 Who is like you among the gods, Yahweh The Hebrew word used here for “gods” is elim—the plural of el. Elim is also used of the divine beings loyal to Yahweh—members of His council, the heavenly host (see Psa 89:6; compare Pss 82:1, 6; 29:1). This phrase indicates the absolute uniqueness of Yahweh among all other unseen divine beings.[4]


15:11 Who is like you. The comparison is rhetorical in this threefold presentation of God’s nature and power.[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (2008). Exodus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, p. 450). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 169). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ex 15:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 118). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

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