Exodus 19:16-25

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 And the Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.


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What a magnificent experience! If you live in an area shaken by earthquakes, you feel a little ripple now and then, get a funny feeling, and then life returns to normal. But how often do you see a granite mountain shaking, or hear constant thunder rumbling from lightning strikes between clouds and earth, or shrink before the long blasts of heavenly trumpets announcing that God is ready to meet you?

Just your regular, ho-hum quiet time, right? In no way. Can you imagine how Moses felt when the Lord said to Moses, “Come up, Moses”? Wow! If you were Moses, what would you do now? How would you do it? How could you carry on? I’ll tell you how: with fear and trembling Moses made that historic journey up into the clouds. He’d stood before a burning bush, but that was nothing compared to this epochal experience. The writer of Hebrews says, “So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, ‘I am full of fear and trembling’ ” (Hebrews 12:21).

A healthy fear of God will hold us in awe and do much to deter us from sin. When we have a proper fear of the living Lord, we live a cleaner life. Any born-again person who sins willfully has momentarily blocked out any fear of God. You and I can do that. When we actively engage in sin, we consciously put aside what we know to be the truth about God. We deliberately suppress the knowledge of Him in our hearts and minds. We lie to ourselves by saying, “We’ll get by. God won’t mind so much.” Yet God used Moses to reveal to His people a reverential and healthy fear of the Almighty.

When you come to that understanding, and God’s light breaks into your life like the pure whitewater of a rushing river, you learn to thoroughly hate and dread those actions that will plunge you again into darkness. The psalmist expressed that thought with these words: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:103–105) .

A healthy fear of God will hold us in awe and do much to deter us from sin.

— Charles R. Swindoll