Three months after their dramatic rescue from Egyptian oppression by the angel of first-born death and through the Red Sea, the Jewish people arrived at Mount Horeb (Sinai). Here, they saw a third terrifying manifestation of their God. Although He had delivered them, He also intimidated them. At Horeb, the great I AM spoke to them from a mountain clothed in fire and smoke. They feared instant death, being in the breath-taking presence of the Creator of the Universe. (Deuteronomy 5:5, 25) Terrified, they asked Moses to go into His presence as their representative, then tell them what was said.
“Go yourself and listen to what the Lord our God says. Then come and tell us everything he tells you, and we will listen and obey.’” Deuteronomy 5:27 NLT
Their Great Shepherd acknowledges their initial response and seems to wistfully wish that this spirit might dictate the rest of their lives.
“I have heard what the people said to you, and they are right. Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever.” Deuteronomy 5:28-29
1200 years later, this people who, like all people, found themselves unable to keep God’s commandments, were encouraged to come into the very presence of the Awesome One with whatever care might be upon their hearts. They could now dare to enter the throne room, not because of their record of good behavior, but because they could now walk in the company of Jesus, who had taken upon Himself all the fearsome wrath of their just God.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
We who have chosen to be followers of Jesus, our Substitute, now have a new reason to tremble before God. No longer having to fear extinction in God’s presence, nonetheless, we tremble in awe and in an overwhelming desire to have the ability to obey Him who knows what is best for us.
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28 NASB
“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,
who tremble at my word.” Isa 66:2 NLT