Exodus 19:10-25 Jesus does not shield us from the Father, but consecrates us to meet Him face-to-face

Exodus 19:10-25  Jesus does not shield us from the Father, but consecrates us to meet Him face-to-face

The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, or else the Lord will break out against them.” Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’” Then the Lord said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, or He will break forth upon them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Background

In preparation for the meeting with God, the people consecrated themselves by washing their garments and abstaining from sexual intercourse. On the third day, the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai with an ominous manifestation of His glory. The thunder, lightning, thick cloud and loud trumpet sound terrified the people. And they were warned not to approach the mountain less they perish. The people trembled with fear and begged no further word be spoken to them. They fear judgment because their hearts are not pure.

But those who love God do not fear judgment, for their hearts’ desires are purified by the blood of Jesus. Unlike the people of the Old Covenant, believers of the New Covenant look forward to meeting with God face-to-face. Today’s devotion teaches us: Jesus does not shield us from the Father, but consecrates us to meet Him face-to-face.

Observation

Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day…

God instructed Moses to consecrate the people, to set them apart as a holy people to meet Him on the third day. The people must repent of their sins, and they must observe the rituals of washing their garments and abstain from sexual relations. The act of washing their garments represents heartfelt repentance from sin. Abstinence from sexual activity for a time represents the resolve to devote oneself fully to God. During this time, no human or animal can go up the mountain or touch the border of it. Transgressors, human or animal, will be put to death. Only upon the sounding of the horn on the third day shall the people approach the mountain.

So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound.

On the third day, God descended on Mount Sinai. His glory was evident by the lightning flashes, a thick cloud and a loud trumpet sound. So much so the people trembled in their tents. As Moses brought the people out toward the foot of the mountain, the manifestations became more foreboding. Instead of lightning, there was fire. Instead of a thick cloud, there was a smoking furnace. The whole mountain and the earth quaked violently beneath them. The escalating trumpet sound heralded the arrival of God. Moses spoke to God, and God answered with a majestic voice that sounded like thunder. At God’s behest, Moses went up to the top of the mountain.

Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish.

When Moses was at the top of the mountain, the people put God to the test by “breaking through to the Lord to gaze”. And even the priests who normally had access to God’s presence were not adequately consecrated for the meeting. Indeed the people have no understanding of the dimensions of divine holiness that can destroy them. Hence, they became careless and irreverent when approaching the holy God. Ananias and Sapphira of the early church trivialised the holiness of God and died. They tried to exalt themselves before God by lying about the amount they actually gave to the church (see Acts 5:1-11).

Truth

Jesus does not shield us from the Father, but consecrates us to meet Him face-to-face

Moses served as a mediator to reconcile the people to the Father based on the Old Covenant. Similarly, Jesus, as the mediator of the New Covenant reconcile all men to God. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6. Both Moses and Jesus have this mission, which is to bring sinners to the Father to reconcile with Him. Their role is not to shield sinners from the Father, but to bring them to Him. However, like the Israelites, many believers today do not want to see the Father; they want Jesus to forgive their sins and shield them from Him. Indeed, it is a great blessing to see the Father, for every good and perfect gift comes from Him (see James 1:17). Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8.

Only the pure in heart can see God face-to-face.

God’s holiness demands of all who come before Him to be consecrated. The glory that radiated from His holiness is like the rays of the sun. No one can look directly at the sun without being irreparably blinded by its light. Similarly, no one can come to the Father without being consumed by His glory for God is a consuming fire (see Hebrews 12:29). That said, the Father desires to be near, to live in our midst (see Exodus 29:45-46).

During Moses’s time, God instituted the Old Covenant so that He may live amid the people. The priesthood and sacrificial system were meant to consecrate the people so that they may approach God. However, because of the hardness of their hearts, the sacrifice of goats and calves cannot purify their sinful nature. And subsequently, God’s glory left the people while their enemies were conquering them.

In the New Covenant, the sacrifice of Jesus once and for all destroyed the power of sin for all who believe. And His blood purifies us by removing our rebellious inclinations: greed, envy, anger, selfishness and unbelief. As believers draw near to Christ continually by doing His will, in overcoming temptations and tribulations, the Father draws even nearer to us.

In view of the day of judgment, believers must work out their salvation in fear and trembling.

If believers for whatever reason fail to sanctify themselves to meet the Father, then Jesus would have died in vain. On judgment day, every person will meet God to give an account to Him. Therefore, we have to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (see Philippians 2:12). The apostle Paul said,

But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:10-12

The thunder, lightning flashes, fiery furnace and the earthquake gave the people an ominous warning of the day of judgment. Moses said to the trembling crowd,

“Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” – Exodus 20:20

The difference between the Old Covenant (Mount Sinai) and the New Covenant (Mount Zion) mentality.

A person with an Old Covenant mentality is afraid to approach the Father. To come to the Father is to come to a mountain (Mount Sinai) that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command (Hebrews 12:18-20). Such a person is terrified by God’s presence because his heart is not regenerated. And he is right in feeling so because he is adamant and unwilling to submit to God. An Old Covenant person is not at peace with God, he lives and moves by the fear of retributions.

A person with a New Covenant mentality is not afraid to approach the Father, the Judge of all. In fact, he looks forward to meeting God face-to-face, and he purifies himself continually (see 1 John 3:3). To come to the Father is like coming home… to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-23). Such a person is not terrified with meeting God, for he is at peace with Him. His heart is regenerated by Christ’s blood, fully submitted to God and willing to do His will. A New Covenant person lives and moves by his love for God and love for fellow men.

Application

To be pure in heart is aptly described in Hebrews 12:14 and James 1:27.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. – Hebrews 12:14

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27

To be pure in heart is to…

  • to be at peace with all men, including those who harm us.
  • to desire the holiness of God.
  • to possess compassion to provide for the needy.
  • to hate evil and be vigilant against the temptations of the world.

Do you look forward to meeting God on the day of judgment? Or do you fear certain retribution? If you are terrified, it is time to examine your inclinations and the nature of your relationship with God. Are you fixated on your personal wellbeing? Do you seek your own will with little regard to God’s plans? The state of our heart is revealed through our thought life.

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. – Titus 1:15-16

But if you look forward to meeting God not only on judgment day, but every day, then you are walking on the narrow path towards the finishing line. Persevere and press on. But beware of the devil’s temptations that seek to trap you in the lust, greed and pride of the world. Continue to pursue Christ-likeness, being conformed to His virtues, wisdom and power.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. – Philippians 1:9-10

Dear Lord, purify my heart with your blood. Remove all anger, greed, lust, pride and selfishness from me. Because you no longer count my sins and transgressions, I am free to approach your presence. Continue to sanctify me with your word and cause me to become more like you. Reveal more of yourself to me so that I may be changed by your grace and truth. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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