And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

Someone has written about God’s ‘dangerous holiness.’ We could equally speak of His ‘frightening holiness.’ The point to note here is that we can’t come to this holy God any old way; we can’t approach Him how we choose. We must come to Him on His own terms or not at all.We now know (in the light of the full revelation of Scripture) that we must approach God in and through the mercy and grace of Jesus. There is no other way than the Cross. Otherwise we will be incinerated by the blazing holiness of God. It is in the New Testament that we read that our “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). This is still true in the gospel era. So although we may come to God boldly through Jesus, this does not mean coming carelessly, thoughtlessly, lightly. Sin (and sinners) cannot survive the holiness of God, apart from the intervening blood of Christ.

Someone observed, ‘An easy-going people believe in an easy-going God.’

‘They needed the warning that the holiness of God is such that no human self-preparation can ever satisfy its demands. Humans can no more fit themselves to stand in the Lord’s holy presence than Adam and Eve, in their day, could find the road back to the garden and evade the angel with the sword of flame.’ Alec Motyer: ‘The Message of Exodus’, p.207.

Graham Kendrick got it so right:

‘Only by grace can we enter, only by grace can we stand;

Not by our human endeavour, but by the blood of the Lamb…

Lord if you marked our transgressions who would stand,

Thanks to your grace we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.’