Exodus 19:9-15 ~ 20110619 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
06/19 Exodus 19:9-15 Prepare to Meet Your God
Saved to Worship
God has saved his people. With a strong hand he brought them out from under their bondage to the Egyptians. His purpose was 'Let my people go that they may serve me' or 'worship me.' God's people were saved to worship. God has brought them now to Mount Sinai, and he is about to formally introduce himself to his people. This is a hugely significant event and sets the stage for the giving of his law in the following chapters. The LORD instructs Moses to remind his people first of his grace toward them, and then of his purposes for them.
Remind the people what I did. God is saying 'Remember, I saved you all by myself. You didn't deserve this. You were panicking – fearful and unbelieving. You stood by and watched. You saw what I did to your enemies. Remember I carried you when you were helpless. I brought you to myself. This is all God's actions to save his undeserving people. Now that they have been saved, he reminds them of his purposes for them.
God's people have been delivered for a purpose. They were set free from bondage in order to worship and serve the one true God. They are God's most prized possession among all that he owns. The whole nation is to be a kingdom, those who are under the authority of the King. And the whole nation is to be a kingdom of priests among the nations – they are to serve the nations by proclaiming the truth about God to them and bringing them into relationship with God. That is the role of a priest. They are to facilitate worship of the one true God. Through this one chosen nation, God intends to bless all the nations of the earth. They are to be set apart, distinct, different from all other nations, to serve as an example to the nations of what it looks like to obey God's voice and keep his covenant.
The people embraced God's purposes for them. They formally agreed to his terms. Now God announces that the people are to prepare themselves to meet their God.
Part of God's purpose in this was to establish Moses' leadership over his people. They had grumbled and complained against Moses, and this event is designed to remove any reason to question whether Moses is indeed called by God. But the language is much bigger than just to the Israelites way back then. Moses is to be believed forever. Moses has something to say to us today too.
Prepare to Meet Your God
God instructs Moses to prepare the people to meet their God. The LORD will come down in the sight of all the people. This is a visible manifestation of the invisible God, as we will see. Meeting with God is no light matter. God takes himself very seriously. The Hebrew word for the glory of God is a word that means weighty or heavy. This is serious. For a sinful human being to come into the presence of the all-holy God means death. When we are confronted with the holiness of God, we are made painfully aware of our own sinfulness. God in his justice must punish all sin. God cannot let any sin slide or he would cease to be just and righteous. The wages of sin is death. This is why when God makes his presence known to mortals, they say things like “Alas, O LORD God! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD” (Jud.6:22); and “Woe to me! For I am lost ...for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isa.6:5); or “The glory of the LORD stood there... and I fell on my face” (Eze.3:23). Deuteronomy 5 looks back on this event in amazement and says:
Boundaries are to be established around the mountain for the protection of the people. When God called to Moses on this same mountain from the burning bush, he said:
The people are to be kept from approaching God uninvited on pain of death. God is dangerous. This is important for us to hear. We do not come to God on our own terms. If we are to come before God and survive the experience, we must come on his terms and his terms alone. We must be invited. God is to be feared and respected. He is not to be treated casually. Two young men in Leviticus chapter 10 learned this the hard way.
Our God is not safe. He is not to be trifled with. Our God is a consuming fire, awesome and terrible. He is King of kings. Over and over the scriptures tell us that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. He is just and will by no means let the guilty go unpunished. This is not just an Old Testament thing. Jesus taught:
Jesus is teaching his followers to fear his Father. Fear God and God alone, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. God is to be taken seriously. It is a weighty thing to come into the presence of the living God.
Even for those who are to be kept at a safe distance, they must prepare. God sent Moses down to consecrate the people. This is a two day process. They are to be set apart to the LORD. As part of this preparation, they were to abstain from normal sexual relations. Intimacy with your spouse was to be postponed for a short time in order to focus attention on intimacy with God. This is also taught in the New Testament:
Did you know that God is pro-sex? He is for it! He came up with the idea. He intends it to be a beautiful, pleasurable expression of intimacy within the context of the covenant faithfulness of marriage. Marital abstinence is to be the exception, not the rule, and only for a very specific purpose.
His people are also instructed to wash their clothes. Remember, again, they are not being told to clean themselves up in order to make themselves acceptable to God. We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God.
We are all lawbreakers, and stand condemned before God. Nothing we do can cover our guilt before God.
Our only hope is mercy - not getting what we so justly deserve. Our only hope is a generous gift freely given to undeserving sinners. God has already taken decisive action to save his people. Now he is commanding that they prepare to meet him.
They are told to wash their clothes. They are not told to take a bath. According to 1 Corinthians 10:2, they had already been baptized in the cloud and in the sea. Now they are being told simply to wash their clothes. We are not told how or where they do this, but if we have been following the story, when the people came to the mountain, there was no water, and God provided water by commanding that the rock be struck with his staff. This is the last water mentioned. If this is the case, then this scene is rich with symbolism. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that the Rock was Christ. In preparation to meet God, his people are to wash their clothes in the water which flows from the Rock who was smitten for them.
What a beautiful picture. Although God is to be feared, man's greatest good is to be in the presence of this fearsome God. To be separated from God forever is quite literally hell. And yet for a sinner to be in the presence of a holy God means justice and punishment and death. What are we to do with this dilemma? There is nothing we can do.
Hopeless sinners brought near to a holy God – how? By the blood of Christ.
When we were not loving God, God sent his only Son to satisfy his own wrath against our hatred of him. O what love! Amazing love!
Brought into the presence of absolute purity by the sacrifice of the perfect substitute, Jesus Christ the Righteous, suffering for the sins of the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.
Jude :24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.