If anyone should have known the fear of God, it was the Israelites.
They had front row seats as he plagued Egypt with all kinds of insects, amphibians, and diseases. He turned the Nile River to blood, covered Egypt in darkness, and even took away all the Egyptian’s firstborn sons. The God of Israel led his people out of Egypt with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He parted the Red Sea, letting his people pass through unharmed. And as Pharaoh’s armies pursued, he joined the seas back together so the waters swallowed them.
But Israel didn’t learn their lesson.
Seven weeks after this great deliverance, these newly freed slaves were preparing to be in God’s presence at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9–11). God instructed Moses to set limits around the mountain so that the people would not go up on it lest they die (Exodus 19:12–13). He showed himself to his people, descending upon the mountain in fire and enveloping it in smoke (Exodus 19:18). There was also a thick cloud on the mountain with shots of lightning, peals of thunder, and a loud trumpet blast (Exodus 19:16).
The people initially trembled. But their fear did not last.
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