The Bible is filled with mountains. Whether it is Christ’s transfiguration on a mountain; or, the giving of the law on a mountain; the physically majestic serves as a tangible symbol of the divine majesty. Conversely, valleys in Scripture are symbolic of difficulty and suffering. Our God is a God of both mountain and valley. That is, the God of the Bible is both transcendent and immanent; he rules with power and might high above us on his holy mountain; yet, he also comes near to us in the valley of the shadow of death.
Leading up to the giving of the Ten Words or Commandments in Exodus 20, Exodus 19 portrays an awesome scene of God in all of his transcendent holiness and power. In fact, the experience was so otherworldly that the people were afraid to even come near the mountain. The people needed limits placed on themselves because of God’s holy presence. Just like coming too near the immense power of the sun will destroy us, so getting near God can ruin us if we do not respect his holiness.
Understanding God’s power and transcendence brings the reality of his immanence into greater appreciation. God went to extreme lengths to communicate to his people. And it all culminated in the ultimate expression of God’s communication through the incarnation of Christ, the sending of the Son. In Jesus, the transcendence and immanence of God meet perfectly to bridge the chasm between humanity and the divine. Because of Jesus the awesome sounds of thunder and trumpet do not lead to fear, but announce grace to those who approach God by faith.
Awesome God, by your majestic grace you drew me to yourself through the person of Jesus. Help me so to know and appreciate your law so that the character of Christ will radiate in my words and my actions, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.