At the Foot of Mount Sinai

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on September 28 2014.

The Israelites’ encounter with God at Mt Sinai gives space for reflection on obedience and holiness. This was where the LORD gave the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19-20). What is your attitude to obedience? The Sinai encounter compels careful obedience on the basis of both proper fear and of promise.

At Sinai, God was revealed to be terrifyingly holy. His word was unbearable (20:18-19), and his presence unapproachable (19:12). He is not a God to be taken lightly. I have heard it said that a carefree person will believe in a carefree god – such a god cannot motivate toward holiness. If we place ourselves at the foot of Mt Sinai the fear of the LORD will motivate obedience even when it is inconvenient.

Sometimes Christians can fall into the trap of thinking that since they’ve already been redeemed, obedience isn’t absolutely necessary. This misstep is exposed by the fact that the Jews had been redeemed from Egypt before God gave them his Law. For them as well as for us, obedience was the pathway to enjoying the promises God had for his redeemed people (19:4-6).

Although we have been given a much better word in the gospel than the Israelites got at Sinai, we would do well to remember it is the same terrifying and holy God who speaks today (cf. Hebrews 2:1-3; 12:25). Obedience is the pathway to holiness, and “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Perhaps you could write out two or three verses that challenge you toward holiness where you find it most difficult, and keep them somewhere you will see them regularly.