In Exodus 19 & 20 God does something that must have been seemingly contradictory to the people of Israel. After reading these chapters yourself you may be left feeling a little confused as to God’s intentions. I know I was at first.
One the one hand, God tells Moses to prepare the people because He is going to speak to them face to face. It seems God wanted to establish that He is their God and that He desires to communicate to them directly.
On the other hand, God tells Moses to place a barrier around the base of the mountain so that the people don’t “go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it.” The penalty for doing either of these…death. And when He does show up He does so with a fanfare of thunder, lightning, and a thick cloud. The kind that they saw as He brought destruction upon Egypt. It’s almost like God is trying to keep them at a distance.
Kind of puzzling isn’t it? That is until you read Exodus 20:18-20.
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die. Moses said to the people, Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.
That clears it up, right? Moses tells the people that they don’t need to be filled with terror over the fanfare in which God came but that God was using it so that they would fear Him.
What God was doing was establishing something that I believe our current Christian culture has lost. And to our detriment. We have embraced Him as friend but denied His kingship. We have declared the love of God while forsaking the fear of God.
Yes, our God is approachable. He wants to talk to you face to face, heart to heart. He wants you to come boldly before the throne of grace. But He is not your bff… He is KING. And we would be wise to rediscover the fear of God.
What we see in Exodus is God setting a simple precedent. He is the approachable King…