And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” (Exodus 19:21-22)
Once again we are reminded that the top of Mount Sinai became God’s Throne room on earth and the people were not to go past the established boundaries in an attempt to gaze upon the Almighty. To do so would have meant certain and instant death -– not as retaliation but because no flesh glories in the Presence. It would have been like throwing an object into a burning furnace; it can’t retain its status but would dissolve in the intense heat.
When Isaiah saw a vision of the Almighty, he described God’s throne being in a room filled with smoke (Isaiah 6:4). We are told that His appearance on Sinai resembled that of a furnace with billowing smoke. The Hebrew root word from which is derived the word translated as “furnace” means “to subdue, subject forcibly.” The idea being presented in this word is that an object — in the case of Israel, a people — is transformed into something else. This is the word used for “furnace” because, in the furnace, materials melt into another state, which then allows impurities to be removed. Once the impurities are removed, the material can be reformed into something useful
To approach God in an impure state is not advised; in fact, it can be quite dangerous. Our God is a consuming fire and “no flesh shall glory in His Presence.” The Psalmist said, “The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD; at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” (Psalm 97:4-5). But if we allow Him to transform us into the image of His Son through His Word and His Spirit, we can boldly approach the Throne of Grace. Like the bush that didn’t burn, the all consuming fire can inhabit those who are His and they won’t perish — quite to the contrary, they will live as never before.
Blessings and Shalom,