Text: Exodus 19:12-13, 21-25 20:18-19
This is so much like the way the serpent deceived Eve that it's scary. The serpent took advantage of Eve's circumstances, because Eve had not heard the word of the Lord directly. Here in Exodus, the Lord is trying to get the people into the experience, allow them to hear God's voice - to have and hold the experience itself so that their belief could be that much stronger. But the people withdrew.
So they put themselves into Eve's dilemma: they didn't actually hear God's voice speaking His words, just something like a voice, noise and indistinct weirdness that time would allow them to explain away. But it's the why that's bugging me.
In 19:12-13, God tells Moses to set bounds around the base of the mountain. "Take heed," He says, warning that no one go into the mountain or touch the borders of it. Yet, when the trumpet blew a long blast, the people were to come up to the mountain. Just so far, and no farther.
All that seems a bit strange at first glance, but it makes sense when seen as events occurring at the intersection of the finite and the infinite.
God is too much for finite man to experience, to the point of death. So man has to be protected if he's to be in the same space. Hence the bounds set around the mountain.
After all the preparations the big day comes and God comes down on the mountain and the people come up to it and Moses goes on up to his audience with God. Once he gets there, God tells him to go back down and warn the people one more time not to break through the bounds lest they die. Moses says, like, they can't come up because we set those bounds around the mountain like You said, Lord.
But God insists, and so Moses goes back down to tell them. Was God over-estimating His own popularity? I don't think so. I think He was giving Moses the picture of what their reaction should have been. They should have been eager to draw near. But they had been instructed to be careful, and that became the excuse.