The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”
23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’”
24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”
25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
No-one could know God if he did not first take the initiative. (We see this reflected in verse 1: the Lord made the first move – Moses responded). We may wonder, ‘Why would God choose some and not others?’ But when we realise how much He hates sin, we then see it’s a miracle that He chooses any at all.
No-one can “force their way through” to God from the human side. There must be no attempts at ‘breaking and entering.’ It can’t be done. We cannot reach God by our own efforts. Again, we must come to Him His way and on His terms.
As we come to the conclusion of our rather long look at this chapter, I feel I can do no better than to again quote Alec Motyer:
‘The example of the people and priests warns us against the sort of presumptions that still come so easily: an unthinking assumption of divine grace, forgetful of its wonder, a casual rushing into the divine presence, neglectful of the need of Jesus our mediator (1 Tim.2:5) and of the precious blood of Christ by which alone we are sprinkled clean (Heb.10:19-22), and an unwarranted laxity in our address to God.’ ‘The message of Exodus’, p.208.