It was no different in Moses day with the nation of Israel. God prepared the people to meet Him at Mount Sinai, first by reminding them of what they meant to Him and what he had done for them. Then He consecrated them for this special moment. They would hear God’s voice as He spoke to Moses and so believe Moses forever. But God knew the people well enough that He had Moses set limits around the mountain so the people could approach, but not ascend the mountain (Exodus 19:11-12). In hearing His voice they would get a sense of His glory.
Jesus was often surrounded by crowds who desired His miracles (Matthew 15:30-31), but rejected His truth (26:55-56). For them, relationship with a living God who was both powerful and righteous was not what they wanted. I wonder at times by so many of the prayers I hear if people are only interested in God if He meets their needs, but not in a relationship that demands sacrifice of self. Oswald Sanders says of Israel, “They did have a vision of God, but to them “the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top”” (Exodus 24:17). In other words, we allow our perceptions of God to stand between us and the reward of intimacy with Him.
Enjoying Intimacy with God, Discovery House Publishers, 2000, page 11.