“Time to meet your maker (part b)”
II.) Vs. 7-15 Set yourself apart
III.) Vs. 16-20 A glorious appearing
IV.) Vs. 21-25 Not as good as it gets
Any one ever having looked into purchasing a new car has experienced the powerful draw of a “good” photograph. To gaze upon the full color glossy pages of the brochure is to imagine the thrill of riding in your brand new vehicle. The benefits are not listed they are suggested in the picture, FREEDOM, SECURITY, JOY, EXCITEMENT, are just some of the subliminal that coming off the pages. In the first six verses God clearly gave Israel a “snapshot” of the benefits of a relationship with Him, “I’ll take you from where you were to where you want to be!” God had already taken them from slavery to freedom, from weakness to power, from insecurity to security. Then He had revealed to them the future benefits of their identity in Him, their status would be that of a “treasured possession”, their job was to be “set apart priests dispensing His love to the world”. Those are the promises God offers Israel if they would agree to the contract. As good as this “snapshot” is it has limitations. That is like the law, as they reveal a lot about God, that He is holy and good. Further more they reveal to us that we are not and try as we might to obey them they can not take us to God. Rom. 7 Paul explains this to us,
“Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” The law was never designed to bring us to God only Jesus can do that. The law takes us to the mountain but Jesus takes us past the barriers into the presence of the Father!
III.) Vs. 7-15 Set yourself apart
Vs. 7-8 Fresh off of hearing how God saw them and what He had already done for them they respond with a desire to serve the Lord in “all He said”. The problem will not be in their desire but rather in their ability to accomplish it. They have agreed to follow the Lord before they even knew what that would be. Of course no price would be too much if God was to see them that way. Perhaps they thought that if they just followed the right rules they would be able to accomplish getting closer with God. The truth of the matter is that the rules could only bring them so close to God, but never could they come into His presence.
Vs. 9 God reveals to Moses that He is going to speak to him in a cloud so that the people would watch and learn to trust in Moses leadership. God is clearly establishing Moses leadership before the people. The thick cloud symbolizes the presence of the Lord and when the people hear the Lord speak to Moses they will realize the unique relationship that God has given Moses before the people.
There is a similar seen in the N.T. where the Father establishes Jesus as the only mediator between heaven and earth. Jesus took Peter, John and James up the mountain where Jesus was transfigured before them. We are told that a cloud formed and a voice was heard which said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him!” Moses was the mediator of the old covenant which led people to the mountain but Jesus brook down those barriers and has taken us into the presence of the Father.
Vs. 10-15 In this time of preparation for meeting the Lord. First there are two phrases that God tells Moses to share with the people in these verses that are absolutely necessary to enter into a relationship with the Lord:
- 11, 15 “Be ready” (Repent): The people are told twice to be ready.
- The first time we see these words it is followed by the words, “for the third day”. The point being that meeting of the Lord was soon at hand, if you will there was no time to waist they needed to prepare for the meeting now. We procrastinate so much but when it comes to knowing and walking with God we must not do so.
- The second time they are admonished with the words “be ready” they are again told about the third day but the words, “do not come near your wives” are added. This is a reference to intimate relations between man and wife. God values the marriage relationship above any other earthly relationship but even this should be placed in the right order when it comes to a relationship with the Lord. Simply put “readiness” carries with it the idea of making any changes necessary that is another was of saying repent! Any relationship we have that would hinder us from entering into the most important relationship needs to be changed not discarded but rather put in the right perspective.
- 14 “Be sanctified”: (washed in the blood) This word means to be set apart for a specific purpose. The way that they were to be set apart was to wash their clothes.
- 10-11, 14 “Wash their clothes”: Most people had only one set of clothes this was seen as a new beginning. The idea is also that of being clean set apart, (verse 14). If you will, God is saying, “You have been told how I see you now I want you to see yourself the way I see you, clean washed in my blood.” Folk’s you are ever going to grow in your relationship with the Lord you need to see your self as God sees you. Only those cleansed from sin can enter into a relationship with the Lord.
There is one other thing we see in these verses:
1.) Vs. 12-13 “Set boundaries”: They were not to be flippant as they approached the Lord. God is showing them that they need to approach Him His way and only those that have repented and been washed in the blood of Jesus can approach Him. The Bible says that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Obedience is more important then feelings. They were to submit to the Word of the Lord not how they felt even if they felt as though they wanted to get closer to God they needed to do so in the way He said! It was the death penalty to try to approach God in a manner He did not prescribe. You can only draw near to God by way of His Son! They could not come to Him until the third day and they had to stay at a distance.
In all of these preparations God is sharing with them that He desires that they have the same heart towards Him that He has with them. This is very much like a marriage and God has said His vows, He has demonstrated His love towards us and we are invited to be His bride but not if we are not serious about it. Can you imagine courting your spouse and showing your love and when it come to the marriage pledging your love only to have them smack a big bubble and say, “Yeh, what ever!” So God has every right to expect us to be faithful towards Him.
IV.) Vs. 16-20 A glorious appearing
Vs. 16 It says here that in the morning of the third day was when these manifestations of the Lord’s presence happened. Remember that it was the same time when Jesus rose from the dead! Think of the remarkable difference between Moses and Jesus. Moses brought the nation of Israel into an encounter with the living God, but the could only take them to the foot of the mountain. Jesus on the other hand not only took us past the barriers and boundaries we are told that He took us all the way into heaven. In Eph. 2: 6 say’s that we are seated with Him in heavenly places. Here God descends to earth and so to in Jesus. But the difference is that when Jesus ascended He took us with Him.
So what is all of this awesome phenomena of thunder, lightning, thick cloud, fire, smoke and an earthquake convey to us? It shows the character of the Lord. God is Holy, in fact we are told in 1st John that there is no shadow or turning at all. The people get the point right away and tremble. God is the same today as He was then, yet now we enter into His presence boldly. Because we do so through the work of His Son.
Vs. 17-19 Folk’s there is a reverence that we all ought to have towards the Lord. God wanted them all to realize that they were in His presence by grace not merit! Now even though we can now approach His throne boldly we do so by grace. The Bible say’s that it is a, “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” I pray that we all appreciate the incredible privilege we now have to come into fellowship. Hebrews tells us, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
IV.) Vs. 21-25 Not as good as it gets
Vs. 21-25 Look at the limitations of the old covenant. The people could only come so close and if they came any closer to God they would die. People today try to approach God based upon the law or good works they will never be able to do so. No amount of good living will get you up the mountain of His holiness, only faith in Jesus Christ can do that. In the Old covenant there was a certain distance from the Lord, they could not draw near to gaze upon the Lord as we can through Jesus yet so many today still prefer to stay at a distance. This reminds us that we can not just take our relationship for granted. God sent Moses down to make sure that the people won’t try to take the grace of God in vein. With the awesome splendor of the Lord we ought to appreciate His grace all the more. In the Old Covenant God’s majesty and might was displayed to all, but only a few could draw near. In the New covenant we have beheld His glory and majesty in His Son, all can draw near. Did you know that if you look into the face of Jesus you can see forever! In the manifestation at Mount Sinai the truth of His holiness is seen which demands separation. In the manifestation at Mount Calvary His grace is seen which is how we can draw near to a Holy God! The holiness of God and the Love of God have meet together at the cross. We must never diminish the holiness of God and our need to be pure. For it is in this purity that we experience the benefits of our relationship. The coming of Jesus made it possible for us to have intimate fellowship with the same God who manifested His nature on Mount Sinai. The barriers, which were of necessity to keep men from this Holy God, have been taken down. The barrier was because of our sin and Paul says in Ephesians 2:13-16. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. So what can we do with this truth? Enter in man! You don’t have to con God or do all sorts of rules you can just come right in through the finished work on the cross, but what ever you do please come in all in Jesus are welcome!