Don’t Touch the Mountain

Moses probably wouldn’t do so well in my church. We sing cheerful songs and chit-chat in the lobby as we munch on chocolate doughnuts. Sometimes we get distracted. Cell phones create mid-sermon jam sessions. Babies have mid-service freak out sessions. We wonder if the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl.

But you know what would really shock Moses? The fact that all of us draw near to God. Personally. Intimately. Daily.

Moses’ experience of God was different. Incredibly different. Out of all the Israelites, only one person, Moses himself, was allowed to draw near to God. Anyone else that came remotely close to the presence of God was playing with death.

Exodus 19:9-12 paints a frightening picture.

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot.

Don’t go near the mountain of God. Don’t touch it. Don’t even mess around the edges. You touch the mountain and you get stoned. Why? Because you’re sinful and God is holy. Moses is the mediator between God and Israel. No one else comes near.

So what changed? Why aren’t I engulfed in flames the moment I open my mouth in prayer? Why doesn’t the ground swallow me up when I open my Bible? Why am I allowed to come near when Israel was told to fall back? Because I have an infinitely better mediator. Moses couldn’t bring Israel with him into the presence of God.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 10:16)

What would our lives be like apart from this mediator? What would prayer, Bible reading, and church look like? Jesus brings us up the mountain.

  • http://garyboalnireland.blogspot.com/ Gary Boal

    It doesn’t bear thinking about, not only is there the probability that we gentiles would not even have access to it, but it’d probably be ongoing animal sacrifice (with animal rights activists protesting outside).

  • Wendy

    How amazing that we should be able to come and address the Almighty God. What a privilege and honor that, because of Jesus Christ, I am now invited into the family of God and can call HIm Father and can have fellowship with Him. That is something that I too often take for granted. Thank you for the reminder that it hasn’t always been that way!

  • http://www.thomasclay.blogspot.com Thomas Clay

    I’ve often wondered if, as difficult as it is to get folks to come to church (not so much our particular church, but churches in general), how attendance would drop off even more if we still had to bring animal sacrifices every Sunday…

    Go Steelers!

  • http://ke4juh.wordpress.com/ Jim Brown

    I hope you are right that your congregation is in fact drawing close to God and isn’t it wonderful to have Jesus as our Lord and Saviour…

    @Thomas Clay – if you have potluck meals you are already having the modern equivalent of the typical sacrifice (different than the burnt offering or sin offering) which was essentially a shared meal
    God bless,
    -jim
    http://ke4juh.wordpress.com/

  • Megan Liz

    Right before I read this post, I just finished re-reading That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis. Both of those combined reminded me how often we take our status with God for granted. I mean, this is the Being who created everything with a word (and could unmake us with another)! It would be sacrilegious to be intimate with Him if He didn’t command it and make it possible.

    Thanks for another amazing post to think about this week!

  • Stephen Altrogge

    Gary – You’re right, we probably still would be performing animal sacrifices. That wouldn’t go over well with some!

    Wendy – So glad it was encouraging for you.

    Thomas – I think you’re right, attendance probably would dip a bit!

    Jim – Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Megan – Doesn’t CS Lewis rock?