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Further In

Further In

Exodus 19:21-22

And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.”

Why did God station an angel at the border of Eden to bar its entrance? As a symbol that Adam and Eve’s sin had made a severance in their communion with the Holy One. Why did God tell Moses to remove his sandals at the fiery bush theophany? As a symbol that no human artifice can sully the hallowed ground on which God treads. Why will God later command the constructors of the tabernacle to place a dividing curtain between the inner sanctuary and the rest of the universe? As a symbol that we, in our sinfulness, are unworthy to gaze upon the Lord in His glory. Time and time again through the Old Testament, through all the diverse eras of human history, there has been some symbolical door or gate or veil or mountain pass leading to a more direct and intimate relationship with God, and the only way to break through is by divine invitation.  

Here in Exodus 19:21-22, God isn’t commanding His people to ‘back off’ as if He doesn’t desire to reveal His glory. Far from it! He’s the same God who said through the prophet Jeremiah, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Instead, He’s adding to the picture of His holiness what we could call the sacrament of consecration: the reality that only one with clean hands and a pure heart can enter God’s presence. That’s what Exodus-Deuteronomy essentially is. God gives His people a set of conditions for drawing near, from Sabbaths to sacraments to sundry laws, so that those who truly yearn after Him may have a means of breaking through the vail to gaze upon His countenance.

Nevertheless, we as sinful men can only come to the Father on His terms, through His atonement, by Hisconsecrating Passion, and those who sew fig leaves for their sin or build high places for their convenience or conform orthodoxy to fit their own agendas will not break through to Sinai’s summit. They’ll only linger in darkness at the base.