When the holy God touched the unholy mount Sinai, it could not handle His holiness, without being wrapped up in smoke. Its smoke ascended like that of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly (Exo. 19:18). The description of the heat of a furnace gives us an idea how hot was the fire. The holiness of God is a Consuming Fire. When the mount quaked, it felt the heaviness of God’s holiness. Death would follow those who touched it. Be it man or animal. It was on the third day that Israel was to meet God, under His guidance. From Mount Sinai, God spoke to Israel and gave them the ten commandments. He reminded them of the fact that He is the Lord their God, Who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. The first thing on the covenant was, “You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.” That was key in order for Israel to bind to the covenant. Having the true God as their only God, Israel would fear Him and observe the rules of the covenant God presented to them. God’s presence spoke holiness before the people in a way that no human in his unholy beginning could face, not even Moses. The letter to the Hebrews describes it saying, For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched, that is ablaze with fire and to gloom and darkness and a raging storm; and to the blast of a trumpet and a voice whose words make the listeners beg that nothing more be said to them; for they could not bear the command that was given; If even a wild animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death. In fact, so awful and terrifying was the sight that Moses said, I am terrified (Heb. 12:18-21).
What was happening in that moment was for the nation of Israel to realize the seriousness of the holiness of God; in covenanting with Him Israel must do everything the law required, or they would suffer serious consequences, as death. The Law was the picture of God’s holiness. He came down as a holy God, not as a merciful and compassionate God. Before Him, Israel trembled with fear and fell back and stood afar off when perceiving thunders, lightnings, trumpet and the smoking mountain. They said to Moses, You speak to us and we will listen, but let not God speak to us, lest we die (Exo. 20). In their idolatrous and sinful estate, Israel could not face the holiness of God, without suffering the consequences. Israel stood afar off, afraid of God, but Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was (Vs.21). He was a man who walked with God; and like no other man, Moses experienced God in a way never allowed to anyone else. The Bible says about him, as a man very meek or above all the men on the face of the earth. God rebuked Aaron and Miriam his brother and sister in their rebellion against him and said, Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make Myself known to him in a vision and speak to him in a dream. But not so with My servant Moses; he is entrusted and faithful in all My house; with him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly and not in dark speeches; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses? And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and He departed (Num. 12). He stayed on the mountain with God for forty days and nights twice. At the end of his life, God buried him; no other man, not even Aaron participated on the event. The book of Jude mentions that the archangel Michael, contended with the devil about the body of Moses.
Moses did not stand afar off from God; instead, he went up to him, non-afraid of him. When we are confronted with the holiness of God, we can’t help by feeling scared and wanting to hide from Him, when our life is tainted with sin and guilt. Paul went blind at the brightness of His holiness; Isaiah felt unworthy before His holiness and cried; Woe is me! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man od unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! (Isa.6). Job, after his ordeal, had an encounter with God and expressed his feeling of unworthiness and repentance, saying, I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I loathe and abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42). Peter, when realized they were before the holy God, fell down at YAHSHUA’S knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man (Luke 5). No man having experienced the holiness of God should remain the same. Israel, because they stood afar off from God, committed adultery against Him, breaking the covenant of just a few days (Exo. 32). They continued on their way of idolatry, rejecting the covenant uttered to them by God Himself.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4), a call to the bride of YAHSHUA. We must desire His holiness all the time. Only through the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit we are made holy, only if we allow Him to do the work in our life. Without it, we cannot see God. No one can enter heaven unsanctified. No one can enter heaven without a relationship with God. We all need to experience God’s holiness in order to be transformed in the renewing of the mind. Easy Christianism will never lead one to holiness. Denying of self, the taking up of the cross, to follow YAHSHUA is the road to sanctification. And all of us, as with unveiled face, continued to behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [who is] the Spirit (II Cor. 3:18).