A Close Encounter

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Exodus 19:16-17 (NIV)
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

Exodus 19:16-17 (MSG)
On the third day at daybreak, there were loud claps of thunder, flashes of lightning, a thick cloud covering the mountain, and an ear-piercing trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp shuddered in fear. Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God. They stood at attention at the base of the mountain.
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“So it happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and flashes of lightning, and a thick cloud was on the mountain, and a very loud blast was sounded on a ram’s horn, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood and presented themselves at the foot of the mountain.” -AMPLIFIED

On the third day after God informed the Israelites of His coming visit it happened just as He said. The manifestation of the Creator on that morning was an amazing demonstration of God’s Almighty power. There was thunder and lightning within a great thick cloud that covered Mount Sinai; from within the cloud there was heard an ear-splitting blast from a trumpet.

Scripture tells us everyone within the Israelites camp trembled, but lest we get the wrong idea let us clarify. Yes, some people would have trembled from fear, but consider that many people were filled with excitement, eagerness and wired for the coming appointment. They were going to encounter God Almighty Himself. This was to be a monumental moment and they were waiting with excited anticipation.

Scripture gives us a very descriptive picture of how things progressed on that amazing day. “Mount Sinai was all smoke because God had come down on it as fire. Smoke poured from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain shuddered in huge spasms. The trumpet blasts grew louder and louder. Moses spoke and God answered in thunder. God descended to the peak of Mount Sinai. God called Moses up to the peak and Moses climbed up.” -Exodus 19:18-20 (MSG)

In the next few verses we find God’s love and concern for His children showing; as He tries to send Moses back to warn the people to be careful not to touch the mountain. Moses insists that he had already warned them; just as God had instructed him to do.

No, God had not forgotten what He had already had Moses do, but He was concerned that the people in their excitement and eagerness would do something very foolish. God was looking out for His people. “God said to Moses, “Go down. Warn the people not to break through the barricades to get a look at God lest many of them die. And the priests also, warn them to prepare themselves for the holy meeting, lest God break out against them.” Moses said to God, “But the people can’t climb Mount Sinai. You’ve already warned us well telling us: ‘Post boundaries around the mountain. Respect the holy mountain.’” God told him, “Go down and then bring Aaron back up with you. But make sure that the priests and the people don’t break through and come up to God, lest he break out against them.” -Exodus 19:21-24 (MSG)

The people were excited about this close encounter with God, but it was important that they obediently followed the guidelines that He had set into place. Those guidelines were for their own safety. They were not rules put into place because God was mean, uncaring, aloof, or detached. God was looking forward to this encounter just as much as they were, but because of who He was He had to set perimeters into place for their own God. God’s love was showing; be careful lest you think it is anything else. He does the same for us too; setting guidelines and boundaries in place. He does it for our safety and because He loves us too. Before we start criticizing Him for those guidelines and boundaries; let us consider that He knows what is best for us and He is not a mean, unkind, uncaring, aloof God, but a loving God.

My Prayer: Lord, remind me that what you do and allow in my life is for my own good. You, who can see everything from beginning to end, are more qualified to know what I should or should not do. I know that you have set boundaries for you children in order to keep them safe from sin and its consequences. Instead of kicking against those safety boundaries help me to rejoice in the fact that you are watching out for me. Help me to gladly be obedient to the instructions that you have given me. Thank you for your protection and love. Thank you for caring!

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