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God’s holiness

When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” EXODUS 20:18-20 From the text, when the Israelites realized that they were in the presence of God “they stood at a distance.” The presence of God is threatening even among His own people. They had witnessed while in Egypt through the plagues what God could do. While they were escaping from the pursuing Egyptians led by pharaoh, they had seen the power of God through the miracles of letting them escape the pursuers. So when God gave them the commandments and they heard the “thunder and the loud blast of ram’s horn” they were terrified. This is a reflection of the contrast between man’s condition being a sinner when exposed to God’s holiness. This is also to show that people cannot abide in the presence of God with all their sinfulness. This is why they prefer Moses to mediate for them. Apparently, God provided a means for Moses to be able to bear the presence of God. Christ’s coming in this world provided the people a glimpse of the glory of the God in human form. He arrived in this world in a gentle inviting manner. His coming proved that God wanted people to realize their need of Him and that through Jesus they can gain access to God. “For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). The Israelites were fearful that the presence of sin in their lives could lead to their destruction. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, God’s wrath over sin was poured out. With His death, now man has an access to God. Having faith in Christ gave man the access to be in the presence of God. God sees the righteousness of Christ and no longer the sinfulness of man. Yet those who have placed their trust in Christ should not take for granted what He had accomplished on their behalf. Moses told the Israelites that the knowledge of the fear of God will keep them from sinning (v. 20). It is always in the believers’ advantage to have that reverential fear to God because this will keep them away from continually living in the life of sin. Once you have made a commitment to God, continually draw yourself to Him by listening to His word so that you will continue to grow in your fear of Him. To fear God will keep you obedient to His will and avoid consequences of disobeying Him. “Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:5).

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