Before the Holy God

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives.” Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” But Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it.’” Then the Lord said to him, “Away! Get down and then come up, you and 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.” So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them. (Ex 19:10-25)

Our God made a promise with Abraham, and when the time came, He wanted to take them into the land of Canaan, where He would be with them and they would become His people. This was not something that man had requested of God but what God had planned ahead of time. So He moved those people and brought them out of Egypt and wanted to make His dwelling among them. However, a huge obstacle was in the way. Who is God? And what was the state of condition of the Israelites? It was impossible for them to be together. That was the obstacle.

The people of Israel were completely stained by the world. During the 400 years or so of slavery in Egypt, they were tainted by all the culture and customs of Egypt. Hence they didn’t have any distinct features as people who worship God. The Law commanded, “Do not murder”, but Moses already committed murder when he was living in Egypt. In this way, they had not received God’s commandment. They only regarded these things as ethical and moral values, not as the commandment of God.

Again, since they did not yet have the commandment regarding marital monogamy, they couldn’t obey. There are also many other commandments in the Law. So why was the purpose of giving the Law? The Bible says it was added because of transgressions. In other words, the people were already breaking everything that the Law commanded not to do. If they had not transgressed, there would not have been a need to give them the Law. So does that mean that the Law is perfect? No, it is not. Why? Because it does not cover everything. It only dealt with the important matters out of the ones they were already breaking and transgressing. To put it differently, they were committing everything that the Law forbid them from doing. They committed all kinds of sexual immorality, so that men committed relations with men and women with women, and even with animals. Furthermore, they stole from others, killed, lied to extort money and so on. They were filled with every kind of uncleanness. Without any reverence for God, they were instead imprudent and treating God’s name with contempt. That was why God could not be with them. That was the biggest obstacle.

So what does God have to do? Since He is forming a covenant with them, He gave them His commandments saying, “Let us be together. However, to do that, I need you to keep these things at the least.” But when He gives them the commandments, they can’t just accept it thoughtlessly, but truly have to realize how fearsome and serious it means to establish this covenant with God.

Hence before our God gave His promise and made His covenant with them, He wanted them to know how awesome God is, how He must be feared in reverence, and how stern the words are which He would give to them through Moses. For that, He wanted to appear to the people once. So the people were all gathered together when Moses was meeting God on top of the mountain. The people couldn’t really see anything. However, from a distance, they saw what happened when God did appear. The mountain quaked, smoke ascended, there were thunder and lightning and fire, and a loud sound of the trumpet was coming from the mountain. It was a dreadful and awesome sight.

Thus when God gave them the ten commandments, it was in such a manner that they were given. The people all trembled as God told Moses, “Do not do this and do not do that.” So before God had finished speaking to Moses, the people pleaded to Moses saying, “We will believe everything. We will believe that you are God’s servant and that God is speaking to you. We don’t need to go and see it. We will believe. So you go ahead and receive it”. And God deemed that good. He wanted them to have such humble hearts and fear Him and continue to do that in the future. After that, He gave the words only to Moses. All the people went down.

When the people were first gathered so that God can give them the words, He gave them many warnings saying, “Do not let the people go up the mountain or touch its base. Whether man or animal, nothing shall come near. Even if they watch from below the mountain, make sure they are consecrated for three days and do not let anyone touch what is unclean.” What God was demonstrating was that God is unapproachable and the Holy One whom sinners cannot draw near to. And this is a truth that must be remembered forever. God is not to be taken lightly. One cannot just go up to Him to contend with God or even look at Him.

When women encounter rapists or such offenders, they must not look straight into the man’s eyes. They need to turn their eyes away if they want to save their life. They must not make eye contact. Once they make eye contact, it will instigate the rapist or offender. Eye contact stirs up fear as well as the urge to do something, which is why women should never make eye contact. There are many instances where the rapist or offender was planning to let their victims go after robbing them or something, but because the victims made eye contact, the offender went after them and killed them.

Such offenders will not let their victims free once they make eye contact. God is not One with whom sinners can make eye contact. Actually, they can’t even draw close to Him. God said that if anyone touched the mountain, he will be stoned to death, even without a hand touching him. Whether man or animal, they will die. God is fearsome. He is so formidable that the people who watched from afar were trembling and pleading that they will not have to watch the sight anymore.

And what else did God say? He said, “Lest I break out against them, do not let them come up”. God doesn’t have any desire to kill them. But when they trespass and violate that boundary, God cannot help but break out against them. He breaks out and destroys them. I know this is not the most ideal example, but have you heard about the wolfman? There was a movie based on that story. He turns into a wolf when the moon rises and attacks and kills people. The woman he loves was with him, but he sees that the moon is rising. So what does he tell her? He tells her to run away quickly before the moon is up. He pleads with her to leave quickly. But the moon rises, and he changes into a wolf and harms the woman. He can’t help himself.

Similarly, if man breaks the Law of God, even though God doesn’t have any intention of harming man and instead wants to save them, He will break out against them. So He warns them not to break the Law. Because they will be destroyed. He warned them many times not to come near because He is afraid that many of them will die and end in a massacre. He told Moses, “God and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord and made of them perish”. He tells Moses to give them a stern warning. Warn them sternly that they will not come near.

So originally, God is someone like this. If we get close to Him. Sinners like us are the kind of beings who just die, die instantly. Just like a moth jumps into a fire and dies. God is still like that. Never mind, He is even scarier than that. So, God does not work with His own emotions like this, but He works with His own laws. Not by feeling, but by law, according to His own promise. Do you like it or not? Do you wish God to work according to His feelings or by the law? If He works according to His feelings, we have no idea how we will live. It’s all about God’s mind, just from time to time.

The type of parents that make it hard for the children to learn and develop properly are the ones who have no principles, so that they tell their children off or commend them depending on their mood. Even for the same action, sometimes they scold their children, but at other times they don’t. It all depends on their mood at the time. If that happens, children don’t know what to do. Similarly, God cannot deal with us based on His feelings. It is not that we are saved when God is in a good mood but not if He is in a bad mood. God does everything according to His justice.

But many people misunderstand God as though He works according to His emotions. So when they are in bad mood, they think, “Has God forsaken me?” or even doubt whether God really loves them. That is ridiculous. God works according to His Law, His justice. We all deserved to perish according to His Law. But God does not charge at us or break out at us. Why? What is in me? Jesus is within me. But before that, the blood of Jesus is within us. So it says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you”. Because we have His blood and rely on the merits of His blood, God’s wrath passes over us.

Even though we are impertinent and bastardy and despicable, if we have the blood, does God pass over us or not? He will. God works justly according to His Law. Even if He wanted to hate someone, He cannot help but love him. Why? Because he has whom? He has the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, God’s commandment. He may be a despicable person, and others might think how he can possibly be loved by God. But if that person obeys God’s word, God loves Him. God demonstrates Himself according to His Law.

That is why we can boldly come before God. If God was frivolous and changing His mind all the time, He may forgive us one time by having Jesus’ blood, but the next moment be angry about us. What happens then? We won’t stand a chance. But God is not like that. He will pass over anyone who has the blood of Jesus; whoever has Jesus’ name He calls His own and loves him. So how thankful are we for our faith and what peace we have! We don’t need to worry about this anymore. If I have the blood of Jesus, I don’t have to worry about whether or not I am saved or be checking God’s mood every day to see what God might do.

Every time we put out the washing on the line, we first check the weather, don’t we? We check what the weather would be like, whether it will be sunny or cloudy. And depending on that, my activities for that day may change. If God was moody and always changing that we have to check His condition every time, how can we survive? We would be in fear that we might to rebuked by God today even if we were commended yesterday. However, God is immutable. He doesn’t even have shifting shadows. He is always the same. He is righteous. Thus whoever has the blood of Jesus forever becomes His child, and He gives Jesus’ name and the Holy Spirit to him to be loved by God and do God’s works. We don’t need to be fickle in our faith life. We are at peace.

In Luke 1, it says that God sent Jesus Christ that we may serve Him in peace; that we may worship God forever in joy and peace without fear. Now that we have received the grace of worshipping the awesome God in such peace and joy, let us serve Him. God is truly righteous and works according to His righteousness. I have the blood of Jesus in me! Hallelujah!

Thank you God. God is so fearsome that the people could not look at Him and bounds were set which they couldn’t go past. But we go to God all the time and kiss Him. We kiss him, cling to Him and call on His name. Imagine if my son calls out to me one day, “Ki-Taek!” How dare he? But we call God’s name every day. We cry out, “Jesus!” How thankful we are. Let us pray that we can serve God with this joy.

Thank you God our Father for allowing us to serve God in holiness and righteousness in Jesus Christ without any fear. God our Father, just as great and awesome our God is, help us to honor and love and worship God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center