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Exodus 19:9-25 (NIV)
9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. 10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.” 14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.” 16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. 20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.” 23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’” 24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
In yesterday’s teaching on Jesus’ transfiguration experience, Peter, James, and John went up on a mountain, saw Moses and Elijah, were surrounded by a thick cloud and heard God’s voice. They would have immediately recognized that something similar had happened to both Moses and Elijah many centuries before. Today and tomorrow, we will look at those two stories. We start with Moses. This is the scene where he is called to go up to Mount Sinai, meet with God, and receive the 10 commandments. This passage also shows that we are to be in awe, reverence, and holy fear of God, before we approach him. God is not our ‘buddy.’ God is the holy one who holds our life and death in his hands! Throughout the Old Testament, the people had to be separated from God’s presence, because sinful people would be in danger of being destroyed by God’s holiness. However, Christ’s death on the cross changed all that. The curtain in the temple that separated the people from God was torn (see Matthew 27:51), and through Christ we get the privilege of knowing God as friend (see John 15:15).