Exodus 19:1-9 Unless a man encounters God personally, he cannot lead others to meet Him.
Exodus 19:1-9 Unless a man encounters God personally, he cannot lead others to meet Him.
In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. 3 Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord. 9 The Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.
Moses had succeeded in delivering the people and gathering them at the foot of Mount Sinai. This meeting is the first for Israel, but a second for Moses. God made known His intention to make a covenant with Israel. And the people enthusiastically agreed to all that God has spoken. Then, God appeared in a thick cloud to inaugurate Moses as prophet and ruler of Israel. In this episode, we learn that all things start with an encounter with God. Moses encountered God in the burning bush and received His calling. Then, he met God again; this time, he brought the nation of Israel with him. Unless a man encounters God personally, he cannot lead others to meet Him.
In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.
It has been three months after Israel departed from Egypt, having defeated the Pharaoh’s army. As promised, the nation of Israel was gathered before God at Mount Sinai, also known as Horeb (see Exodus 3:12). This is also the place where God first appeared to Moses in a burning bush and commanded him to deliver Israel. In this second meeting, Moses brought the people before God in preparation to meet with Him.
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.
Without delay, God announced to Moses the purpose of the meeting (v. 3-8). First, God proclaimed His love for Israel and how with great power He delivered them from Egypt. Second, God promised to adopt them as His children to be set apart from the rest of the nations. This is conditioned upon Israel’s faithfulness to the covenant by obeying God’s laws. Third, Israel is to serve as priests for the salvation of the world.
All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!”
Moses delivered God’s word to Israel, and they responded with enthusiastic acceptance. That said, Israel would shortly learn about the Law which they have committed themselves to. The rest of chapter 19 and 20 details the full implications of the covenant and the Law.
The Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.”
After Moses had delivered the people’s response to God, God would inaugurate Moses as prophet and judge of Israel. This was done by God appearing in the form of a thick cloud while addressing the people audibly.
Unless a man encounters God personally, he cannot lead others to meet Him.
Before Moses can bring Israel to meet God as a nation, he must first encounter God one-to-one as an individual. Before Moses can work miracles before the Pharaoh, he must first work and experience the miracles by himself. Therefore, all spiritual ministries must begin with the minister experiencing God as an individual and be anointed by Him. That said, believers, in general, remain fixated on Jesus’s miraculous acts instead of walking intimately with Him. Indeed, many desire to evangelise and do the works of Jesus. But because they have yet to meet God as an individual and be anointed by Him, they cannot bring others to encounter Him.
The wilderness must come before the anointing
The wilderness is a place when nothing seems to be working, and you’re not sure how to fix it. The wilderness is a phase that must precede the anointing. Before Moses was anointed, he spent 40 years in the wilderness. Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before returning to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. The Israelites had to spend three months in the wilderness before arriving at Mount Sinai to meet with God. The disciples had to follow Jesus for a time before they were anointed and sent out (see Luke 9:1). Paul had to spend three years in Arabia before he began his missionary journeys. Therefore, as disciples of Jesus, we must recognise the purpose of our wilderness journey, which is to build our spiritual foundations. Because many are ignorant of God’s timing, they lack the spiritual foundations to possess the anointing. Yet they claim to have received the divine commission having heard the call from the pulpit. Their lack of supernatural power is evidence that Jesus has not sent them. Moses’s life reminds us of the importance of the wilderness years, which prepared him for the meeting with God.
The wilderness exposes the darkness within
The wilderness is not purposed to reveal how defective we are; it is to reveal what’s already inside of us that which is lacking, so God can provide it, that which is dark, so God can sanctify it, that which is insatiable so that God can fill it. The wilderness exposes our hearts where idols sit in plain view so that we might see them, hate them, and give them a desert burial. The wilderness…
- exposes our darkness and motives that belie our holy exterior.
- exposes our fleshly ambitions to realign our heart in accordance with God’s plans.
- exposes our emptiness that was previously filled by the busyness of ministry.
- exposes and mends the cracks in our relationships with God and with men.
- re-orders our life priorities.
As for the Israelites, they tested God with their insatiable lust for meat while incessantly carrying out their immoral desires. That said, the wilderness journey is not a self-improvement project. It is a journey of loss, trust, restoration and transformation. At the end of the day, the wilderness creates within us a desire for the Divine which nothing else can. When that happens, we are ready to meet with God.
The goal of the church is to bring people to meet with God
God’s charge for Moses is to bring the people to Mount Sinai to meet with Him (see Exodus 3:12). However, as the people approach Mount Sinai, it became increasingly clear that they were not eager to meet with God. They said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” Exodus 20:19. The people were drawn by the prospect of salvation. Salvation in their terms is freedom and a land to call their own. But God was not on their agenda.
Unfortunately, most of Christendom is but a reflection of the Israelites at Mount Sinai. Most do not want to draw near to God, to know Him and to do His will. They want to be freed from the condemnation of hell, to prosper, and to be healed of their sicknesses. For the sake of the anointing, some are willing to volunteer and to study in bible schools. However, God sees our hearts and keeps a distance from those who harbour ulterior motives. Regrettably, the church plays along with the desires of the majority peddling the prospect of salvation without having to meet with God.
Do not mistake anointing with institutional ordination or approval
God came in a thick cloud to speak to Moses in the presence of the people. This is so that the people may hear and believe in Moses as one who is anointed by God (see Exodus 19:9). When God chooses His ministers, He anoints them with supernatural gifts and power. Regrettably, many seek the approval of institutions rather than the approval of God. Although they are approved by the organisations they serve, God did not approve of them and was not present in their ministries.
Are you in the midst of the wilderness journey? Sanctify yourself from fleshly ambitions, from the lust of the flesh, from the busyness of work, from unholy relationships, anger and unforgiveness. Seek God’s face by conversing with Him the things that are in your heart. The bible has this to say to all who are in the wilderness,
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. – James 4:8-9
Are you seeking a divine anointing to do God’s work? Instead, seek His face by staying in the wilderness. Do not attempt to leave the wilderness until God calls you from the burning bush.
Dear Lord, I desire to see you and to know you deeply. Transform my attitudes and my belief system. I lay aside my ambitions and my presuppositions. I confess that I know nothing, and I can do nothing of significance. As I humble myself, call me from the burning bush, and I will answer. In Jesus’s name. Amen.