When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”
“Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”
As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: You saw for yourselves that I spoke to you from heaven.
Remember, you must not make any idols of silver or gold to rival me.
“Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you.
If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.
And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.