And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said unto the people, “Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21
God had given a boundary to which the people could approach near Him, and at first they pushed the edge of the border, but when they saw the smoking mountain, thundering and lightening, and the sound of the trumpet, they were fearful and backed away; they “Stood afar off.”
I find it amazing in reading the book of Exodus, how the people are so like people of this day and time. There are many who want to draw near to God; but in their own way, in their way they view God. However, when they get a glimpse of His power and glory, even in a veil of darkness, they back away and stand far off. “That’s not the God I want to know, love and serve,” they might say in their hearts and minds; therefore, keeping their distance from true God and worship of Him.
The people above wanted Moses to be the veil between them and God; there spokesman; when they could have been themselves it they would have seen the Divine and His glory rather than the thunder, lightening, trumpet and smoking mountain.
We are told by the half brother of Jesus, who is James to “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8). God’s desire and will is for His people to come near to Him. The only way to do that is not through obedience to the Law; but through the faith of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, His burial, and resurrection.