And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. (Exodus 19:19 ESV)
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:18–19 ESV)
I love that line "God answered him in thunder"! I imagine being in the camp below the mountain. It had to be pretty frightening! What the text describes as God coming down on the mountain sounds like a volcano erupting. If you have never witnessed a volcano erupting, it is pretty spectacular and a little scary. When I lived in Guatemala, I could see three different volcanoes from my house, two of which were active. When they would go off, you could see it, hear it, and even smell it. It was quite a sight to behold. That is the picture I get when I think about these verses. No wonder the people were great with fear when Moses comes down!
We struggle sometimes with the idea of God's power for two reasons. Often in the church today we teach one of two extremes about God's character. Either it's a "hell fire and brimstone" where God is angry at you or it is a "God is all love", with no judgement of sin. Now, before we continue lets clarify a couple of things. Does God get angry,? Yes, sin angers God. The Bible is clear on that. Is God love? Yes absolutely! God is the pure embodiment of love. I mean John 3:16, come on. God loves, but he does not tolerate sin. Now that we have that out of the way, let's get back to his power. We talk so often with children about God being our friend, and in evangelism, we talk about God loving us and desiring to have a personal relationship with us (neither are bad things). But I think it can lead to us missing part of God's character. We serve a God who is powerful, a God who is not bound by anything. I am reminded of the quote from C.S. Lewis' book "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe":
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”