God Comes to Us

“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.” Matthew 5:1-2

When God made Adam and Eve, He intended to live in communion with His people forever. But because sin entered the picture, God and man couldn’t stay together. For hundreds of years, God pursued His people, and yet they still kept sinning.

He rescued them from Egypt, and it seemed like the Israelites might actually choose to follow Him over their idols (for a very brief moment). In this time, God spoke through one person: Moses. As Moses went to talk with God, and God promises favor and blessing to the people if they will simply choose to follow Him. He asks them to consecrate themselves (or clean themselves up) so He can come and visit them. Exodus 19:16-19 describes the scene of God’s coming like this:

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”

Kind of scary, right? The Israelites sure thought so! No one could enter the mountain except Moses and his brother Aaron. And when Moses came down from the mountain and his face was glowing because he had been face to face with God, the Israelites asked Moses to cover his face because it was too much for them (Exodus 34)!

For so long God seemed unapproachable, and really was unapproachable. Yet He didn’t stay that way.

Even though the Israelites continued to sin much longer after Moses encountered God on the mountain (in fact, that whole scene goes terrible because as soon as Moses heads back to his people, he realizes they’ve just been making golden idols to worship because he was taking too long. Yikes.), God continued to pursue His people. They asked for judges, and He gave them judges. They asked for kings, and He gave them kings. They asked for help and He rescued them again and again and again. And then, after so much rescuing and helping and rejecting and forgetting, God sent Jesus to make things right.

Jesus’s name Emmanuel means God with us, and that’s exactly what happened. God put on flesh, came into the world as a baby, and lived a very human experience, so He could be with us once again. And not only that, but Jesus let himself be beaten, crucified, and rejected so that His death could free us from our sin and we could be with God forever.

I love the stark contrast we see in Matthew 5:1-2 from what came before in Exodus 19. Before Jesus, God seemed unapproachable, but in Matthew, Jesus himself climbs a mountain, sits down, and draws others to him. He meets with people face to face. He shows them the kingdom of God and brings heaven to earth. And He sets everyone free to love and be in relationship with God the way it was intended to be all the way back in Genesis 1.

Praise God for His love for us! That He would move heaven and earth to come and be with us! That He would make a way for us to be with Him forever! Thank you, Emmanuel. Praise be to God!

Want to get devotions in your inbox? Click here!