Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
Exodus 19:18-19, NIV*
The people of Israel have gathered at Mount Sinai three months after leaving Egypt. They’ve had to consecrate themselves for three days before this meeting, and they still can’t be near enough to God to even touch the mountain—on pain of death.
Many Old Testament passages emphasize God’s holiness and power, the splendour of His majesty that make Him unapproachable except by His chosen few like Moses.
Since New Testament days, believers can come to Him in boldness and confidence.
God didn’t mellow over the years or decide to have an open-door policy. From the very beginning He wanted a close relationship with us. Our sin broke that fellowship.
When we read passages like this one from Exodus, it’s a good reminder of how holy and terrible our God really is. A good reminder to cultivate a holy fear of Him even while we’ve been granted safe access through Jesus Christ. A good reminder to live holy before Him in the Spirit’s strength, and a good reminder that He who is for us is greater than whatever is against us.
Holy and majestic God, who dwells in inapproachable light, we could never be clean or pure enough on our own to approach You. Thank You more than we can say for Your grace poured out through Your Son to redeem us and to clothe us in His righteousness. Thank You for the wonder of restored relationship with You. Help us not to take it for granted, and let the open door to Your throne room not lull us into forgetting the holiness that dwells within.