Read Hebrews 12:18-21. What was the experience of Israel at Mount Sinai?
When God called Israel from Egypt, His plan was to create a personal, intimate relationship with them. He said, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself” (Exodus 19:3-4, NKJV).
Thus, through Moses God gave the necessary instructions to prepare the people to meet with Him. The people needed to consecrate themselves first (Exodus 19:10-15). Those who ascended to the foot of the mountain without preparation would die. Nevertheless, once the people had prepared themselves for two days, then “when the trumpet sounds a long blast” on the third day, God instructed that the people “shall come up to the mountain” (Exodus 19:13, ESV). He wanted them to have the experience Moses and the leaders of the people would have when they ascended the mountain and “beheld God and ate and drank” in His presence (Exodus 24:9-11, ESV). The people later recognized that they had seen God’s glory and that it was possible for God to speak “with man, and man still live” (Deuteronomy 5:24, ESV). But, when the moment came, they lacked faith. Moses explained years later: “you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain” (Deuteronomy 5:5, ESV). Instead, they asked Moses to be their intermediary (Deuteronomy 5:25-27, compare with Exodus 20:18-21).
God’s manifestation of His holiness at Mt. Sinai was to teach the people to learn to “fear,” or respect, Him. The “fear of the Lord” leads to life, wisdom, and honor (Deuteronomy 4:10; compare with Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 10:27) — and also to learn that He is merciful and gracious (Exodus 34:4-8). Thus, while God wanted Israel to come to Him, the people became afraid and requested Moses to be their intermediary. The description in Hebrews of the events at Sinai follows primarily Moses’ reminding the people of their lack of faith and their apostasy with the golden calf, and how he was afraid of meeting God because of their sin (Deuteronomy 9:19). The people’s reaction was not God’s plan for them; it was, instead, the result of their faithlessness.
|Because of Jesus, why should we not be afraid to draw near to a holy God? What are the conditions, however, for us to be able to draw near?|