Ecclesiasticus 48.1-4,9-11; Ps 79; Matt 17.10-13
To hear the voice of the lord was the terror of every ancient religion; as the children of Israel put it to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we shall die.’ [Exodus 20.19] The remarkable thing about Moses was that he spoke to God ‘as a man speaks to his friend’ [Exodus 33.11], that he stood face to face with God and did not die.
‘Let your face shine on us and we shall be saved’ the Psalmist begs of God. Imagine saying these words to a violent thunderstorm, to a ravenous lion, to a murderous tyrant. God at various places in the Scripture is likened to all of these, and worse.
‘Be careful of what you wish for’ we are prudently advised. And yet the example of the saints of every generation throws caution to the winds and beseeches God to make his presence felt. To imagine God as a halcyon day, as a tame lion, is to worship an idol rather than the living God. But the promise of God is that if we will worship him as Consuming Fire
[Hebrews 12.29] we shall find that the fire does not consume us but only anneals and purifies.