Tony R. Nester
Today we once again join the Israelites on their exodus journey through the wilderness. Moses has led them out of slavery in Egypt to Mt. Sinai where they have set up camp at the base of the mountain. Moses announces that God is coming to meet the people at this very mountain where he had earlier encountered God in the vision of the burning bush.
If you read the verses that surround the passage you'll see that Moses does not portray God's arrival as much fun. It's not going to be a happy time.
Moses gives all kinds of stern instructions like, "Wash your clothes -- they better be spotless when God arrives"; "Priests -- you go and consecrate yourselves all over again"; "Everyone has to avoid sexual relations".
Moses draws a boundary line at the foot of the mountain where God's Presence will descend. He warns everyone not to cross that line -- whoever crosses it will be immediately put to death.
On the third day, God comes. There's a terrifying thunder storm with horrendous lighting strikes. A thick cloud of smoke hovers over the mountaintop while trumpet blasts fill the air. The mountain shakes as though it were a volcano about to erupt. The people are terrified. They watch in awe and amazement as Moses goes up the mountain and disappears from their sight.
If we see this picture the way Scripture wants us to see it we'll recognize the holiness of God.
But the awareness of God's holiness is in short supply these days.
Ask Christians today what God is like and you'll find that the word that is most often used for God is love.
God is our Friend. God is our Pal. God is there whenever you need him to help you out -- a kind of divine security blanket which we clutch like infants holding their favorite "blankie".
While Moses warned people to say away from God we're always inviting people to come closer to God. We rarely if ever tell people that getting close to God ...
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