But the LORD said, “Go down and bring Aaron back up with you. In the meantime, do not let the priests or the people break through to approach the lord, or he will break out and destroy them. Exodus 19:24 (NLT)
All the preparations had been made. The people had consecrated themselves as God had instructed in order that they could come into His presence but it just wasn't good enough. They had to remain standing at the foot of the mountain unable to climb the mountain and stand in God's presence. In fact, God told Moses that if any of the people dared to attempt to approach Him, He would break out and destroy them. This is a sober reminder that God is holy and that means His attributes are holy as well. God's love is not merely love. It is "holy love". His judgement is not merely judgement. It is "holy judgement".
Despite their best efforts, despite following all of the rules perfectly according to God's commandments, the people were still found wanting, unable to ascend the mountain to stand in the presence of the Lord. In fact, their reaction suggests that was the very last place they wanted to be. They were terrified and begged Moses not to let God speak to them. Let Moses be His messenger.
Once we all were standing at the foot of the mountain just like the Israelites. We may have done all the right things, or at least attempted to clean ourselves up while that may have brought us to the base of the mountain, we were trembling with fear. We were also aware that if we attempted to set one foot on that holy mountain God would break out and destroy us.
Then God's messenger came. He was not merely God's messenger. He was the Lamb of God, who as our high priest offered up himself as the supreme sacrifice for our atonement. Cleansed, not with the water of good works but by the blood of Jesus Christ, we no longer have to stand at the foot of the mountain. Instead we can ascend the Mountain of the Lord and stand in God's presence not once, not twice but we can dwell there!
Come! Do not linger at the foot of the mountain trembling in fear. We were weighed in the balance and found wanting but God Himself has purified us with the blood of the Lamb and clothed us in righteousness. The boundary, the barrier has been removed and God wants us come higher up and further in.
Are you still standing at the foot of the mountain?
Scripture quotation taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, 60188. All rights reserved.