God has just sent his people into a brand new wilderness. He has told them two very important instructions: to remember his extreme grace and mercy toward them, and to obey Him. He has promised that if they would but listen to Him, that he is ready and waiting to make them a kingdom of priests; a holy nation; his very own treasured possession. Talk about making a deal they can’t refuse! Of course, they agreed.
The next step in this “process of becoming” as we will call it, it for the prophet to instruct the people on how to prepare themselves for the coming of God Himself.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”
When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and 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. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;[a] whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” ~Exodus 19:9-15
God said that these people were to be consecrated. The way in which God instructs this to be accomplished is that they:
1. Wash their garments. Matthew Henry notes, “When we are to attend upon God in solemn ordinances it concerns us to sanctify ourselves, and to get ready beforehand. Wandering thoughts must be gathered in, impure affections abandoned, disquieting passions suppressed, nay, and all cares about secular business, for the present, dismissed and laid by, that our hearts may be engaged to approach unto God…It becomes us to appear in clean clothes when we wait upon great men; so clean hearts are required in our attendance on the great God, who sees them as plainly as men see our clothes. This is absolutely necessary to our acceptably worshiping God.”
2. Have established limits set. They must be told with an extreme amount of clarity that these are the lines we do not cross lest we receive the severest of consequences. No compromises will be made past these lines. No blind eyes will be turned when any person – even any animal!!!- crosses. No grace whatsoever will be given if there is injustice done to these unbreakable rules. The message God was conveying here through the work of his prophet’s line drawing? YOU DO NOT PRESUME UPON GOD’S MERCY – EVER. You want stoned? Shot? If you cross these lines that’s exactly what is going to happen. Try me.
3. Do not go near a woman. This was a matter of purity of mind and heart. Henry says, “In token of their devoting themselves entirely to religious exercises, upon this occasion, they must abstain even from lawful enjoyments during these three days, and not come at their wives.”
This was how they were to prepare for the coming of God. These were the things necessary to truly “be ready” to meet him. Here, before the law was given, God came down on the third day. In the future, before grace was given, God was raised on the third day. In the former, God came down to tell us what he expects of us – absolute perfection. In the latter, God is raised up to tell us what we can expect from Him – unmitigated grace.
You simply cannot get the magnitude of that without falling down to worship Him. WOW!!! There are no words to aptly describe what a beautiful God we serve!
Hey world!!! Look at HIM!!! How awesome! How amazing! How merciful! How good and great and strong and wise! That’s MY Dad!!!