Come with me to the Mountain of God.
For two months (Exodus 19:1), Moses and the twelve tribes of Israel had followed the Pillar of Fire through the vast wilderness. God had broken the chains of Egyptian bondage and led them safely through the belly of the Red Sea. God had protected them from marauding enemies, He had rained bread from heaven, and He had brought water from a dry desert boulder.
As the freed slaves gathered at the foot of the craggy peak on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, there was a profound and palpable sense of awe and reverence. The nation had arrived in this place to meet with their Creator, their Savior, their Liberator, their Provider. They had come to worship at the Mountain of God.
At the Mountain of God, we should learn something about entering God’s presence.
God required preparation. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear when I speak with you ... Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes and be prepared by the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people’ ” (Exodus 19:9–11). Take a bath. Clean your clothing. Prepare your heart. “Consecrate” yourself! Be ready to meet the Sovereign King of kings.
This wasn’t a picnic in the park. They weren’t flippant and familiar. God wasn’t... God isn’t the “man upstairs.” He isn’t a Jeanie in a Bottle who awaits our three wishes. He isn’t a spiritual Santa Clause with a jolly greeting. Rather, He is the One who spoke the universe into being. He is the Unchanging I AM, the Eternal Three-in-One. He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent. He is God.
God is holy. So holy that He commanded Moses to “put boundaries for the people all around the mountain and say: Be careful that you don’t go up on the mountain or touch its base. Anyone who touches the mountain must be put to death. No hand may touch him; instead he will be stoned or shot with arrows and not live, whether animal or human” (Exodus 19:12–13).
When Isaiah was given a peek into God’s throne room, he saw “seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth. The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:2–4). John witnessed something similar. “Flashes of lightning and rumblings and peals of thunder came from the throne” (Revelation 4:5).
At the Mountain of God, “on the third day, when morning came, there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and a very loud blast from a ram’s horn, so that all the people in the camp shuddered... Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke because the Lord came down on it in fire. Its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently” (Exodus 19:16-18).
Have we lost some of the awe? Have we become too casual? While it is true that God invites us to come into the loving presence of our Father (Hebrews 4:15-16), it is also true that He is the One and Only Holy God, worthy of our reverence, our fear, our adoration, our worship...