“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:18-21, NKJV)
“The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain.” (Deuteronomy 5:4-5, NKJV)
These two passages describe the point in time when the Law was spoken and given to the people of Israel. In the Deuteronomy passage, the Lord spoke directly to the people “from the midst of the fire” (v4) so they all heard the Law of God with their own ears. However, they were “afraid because of the fire and [they] did not go up the mountain” (v5). Instead, they demanded that Moses serve as their intermediary.
Even though they knew it was God speaking, and the thunderings, lightning flashes, trumpet sounds, and mountain smoking was His doing, they “still trembled and stood afar off”. Furthermore, they pleaded with Moses for God not to speak directly to them because they would die.
When we look deeper into this story, we cannot help but wonder why the people were so afraid…that even the voice of the Lord would surely kill them. However, as we study the full context of Scripture, we know that this is always the initial human response when faced with the sheer holiness of Almighty God…every single time.
However, as Christians in a posture of prayer, we have the ultimate privilege of speaking to God face-to-face through the righteousness that Christ bestows on us. We do not require a human intermediary because Christ is our ultimate and final intermediary. It is through Him “we have boldness and access with confidence” to God Himself! (Ephesians 3:12). Until Holy Spirit reveals this to us, our prayer life will always be hindered. We will always shrink back in hesitation…relying on an intermediary such as a pastor, deacon, small group leader…anyone else that we think is ‘holier’ than us.
It is now time! It is time to clean our hands, purify our hearts, and ascend the hill of the Lord (Psalm 24:3-4). It is time to cross the river of hesitation and uncertainty into the land that God has set apart for us…a land of bold prayer and communion with the Lord…flowing in the power of the Holy Ghost…so that we can:
“…preach the gospel to the poor…heal the broken-hearted…to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19, NKJV)