“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance…The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Exodus 20:18, 20.
The Israelites had grown accustomed to seeing the presence of God at a distance. They only had to look to the sky to see the pillar of cloud in the day and the pillar of fire at night. What a comfort that must have been to see the never departed pillars in their wilderness. At Mount Sinai God offered them the opportunity to audibly hear Him speak with their own ears and see His manifestation. They were very excited and were unified in their response ‘We will do everything the LORD has said’ (Ex. 19:8). But, as the time grew near and the skies grew gray the fear set in terrifying the very ones who God wanted to engage in fellowship…and they remained at a distance. They were comfortably resigned to allow Moses, their spiritual leader, to be the mouthpiece between God and His people.
But God didn’t create mankind to funnel His message through man alone. We were all formed and designed to fellowship with God and receive our private messages from Him. When the Israelites experienced scary circumstances…thunder…lightning…smoke…fire, they camped out in the distance. The very manifestation of God that was meant to draw them to Him resulted in pushing them further from Him through their unbelief. Instead of camping at the mountain of God they camped at the mountain of fear. The same can be with any one of us as we face our mountains of challenges and anxieties. We walk out our lives following God’s presence from a safe distance but when He asks us to come to the foot of terrifying circumstances so we can hear His voice we bolt! We busy ourselves in an effort to bring about a certain outcome. We don’t recognize God’s manifestation in the thick darkness, and we certainly don’t approach the dark and scary future with the faith Moses had.
When facing terrifying seasons of our lives we must not remain at a distance with God. We cannot depend on the faith of another to speak to the Lord for us. We must courageously and faithfully face that mountain with the confidence that the Lord will provide…that He will speak tenderly and privately to us…allowing our Father to comfort His scared children. We must stake our claim in any season marking it with the same banner that Moses erected.
‘Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner…for hands were lifted to the throne of the LORD.’ Exodus 17:15-16.