“And all the people saw the thundering and lightnings and the noise of the trumpet and the mountain smoking—and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, ‘You speak with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’ And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear not—for God is come to prove you and that His fear may be before your faces, that you sin not.’ And the people stood afar off and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”
Although we’re now invited to “Mt. Zion and the City of the Living God” (Heb. 12:22), we still should draw near with a holy fear because of Who He is and what He has done.
Also known as Mt. Horeb (Ex. 3:1), this mountain became known as “The Mount of God” and the place where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. And, when we read today’s Manna in conjunction with Ex. 19:9-25, we can understand why the people were afraid for God to speak directly to them. They were afraid of being struck dead!
Although it’s hard for us to reconcile the picture of the God of the Old Testament with the one given to us by Jesus in the New Testament, we must always remember the Lord God is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). How, then, can we understand today’s Manna in light of Jesus’ teachings about the Heavenly Father?
First, we must remember the Old Testament is the story of Israel’s “salvation-history” and is one of “progressive revelation.” Of all the nations on the face of the earth, God chose the Abraham and his descendants (the Jews/Hebrews/Israelites) to be His People. He took those who were “nobodies” and chose them to be His “peculiar (Heb. ‘cegullah’—‘special, prized, reserved, etc.’) treasure and a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5-6).
Yet, this privilege also carried with it responsibility—for it required their “obeying His Voice and keeping His Covenant” (v.5).
And, later on, when Jesus “came unto His own (the Jews) and His own received Him not” (Jn. 1:11), this “privileged position” was opened to “as many as received Him” (Jn. 1:12). Paul’s letter to the Romans is filled with verses explaining this (e.g., Rom. 3:1-31) and how we’re “justified by Grace and Faith” through Jesus’ death on the Cross (Rom. 4:1-5:21).
But one thing that never changed in all of this is our need for holy fear before God. Although we no longer need to be afraid to draw near to God—in fact, we’re exhorted to do so (James 4:8)—we still should never do so in a slovenly, casual way. Our invitation to “come boldly unto His Throne of Grace and Mercy” (Heb. 4:16) is never to be confused with fleshly brashness.
Instead, we are granted “access by faith into this Grace” (Rom. 5:2) because of Jesus’ Blood, which is our “new and living Way” (Heb. 10:19-22). Yet, even then, like Isaiah, when we “see the Lord high and lifted up” (Is. 6:1) and remember how Holy He is, we will still find ourselves convicted of our sinfulness and totally dependent upon His cleansing and covering of our wretchedness (Is. 6:2-6; Heb. 9:1-14; Rom. 5:6-11). Why not spend a few minutes right now giving thanks with reverent awe for the great Grace God has given to you?
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated August 15, 2010