God’s minor children needed to know that God’s demands for holiness were serious, dead serious. The Ten Commandments were not suggestions, hints, or general principles. They were commandments of iron, carved into stone tablets. They expressed the holy will of God, binding upon all. The setting for the giving of the law: Mt. Sinai, dreadful and dark, loud and terrifying.
“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them. . . . The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear’” (Hebrews 12:18-21).
That experience was necessary to teach the Israelites humility before the greatness of God and trembling before the holiness of God. The commandments cannot help you gain God’s favor. They demand more than you can perform, and they condemn what little you attempt. If Mt. Sinai brought God’s last words, you would be sunk. You would tremble with fear too.
But that’s not the mountain to which you are coming. Jesus Christ obeyed all the commandments for you and took on himself the punishment earned by your disobedience. A different mountain awaits.