Sunday, January 17, 2016

"Some things never change … praise God, some things do!"

Day #18

Scripture Reading:  Exodus 17 - 20 ...

God is holy!  He was holy in the days of Moses, He is holy today and He will always be holy.  And because He is holy, He is worthy of worship.  God had told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let HIS people go so they could worship Him.  Now they came to Mt. Sinai.  The journey had not been easy.  A lot happened between Egypt and Mt. Sinai ... a lot of complaining, a lot of grumbling ... and a lot of God providing for these people who just a few weeks earlier had been slaves.  Whether it was water from a rock or manna from heaven, or quail from the sky, God provided for their needs.  These were His people and they had many needs … more than they could possibly understand.

By now the extreme joy of marching out of Egypt with the spoils taken from the people of the land and the journey through the Red Sea had been replaced by the reality of a wilderness journey.  Even Moses cried out to God and asked, "What am I to do with these people?" (17:4).  There were so many disputes among the people that Moses' father-in-law suggested that Moses divide the labors so that he would not wear himself out.  He advised, "Select capable men from all the people - men who fear God" (18:21).  But why should men fear God?  What kind of qualification is that to judge wisely?  What does it mean to fear God?

Israel’s God, the only true God, is holy!  And because He is holy, God is the Judge of all that is not holy.  The disputes among the people revealed their sinfulness AND their need for God's Law.  Holiness is perfection beyond what we, in our sinful state, can even comprehend.  Only God is holy.  The result of God's holiness and our un-holiness is separation ... a separation the people of Israel were about to experience in a way they had previously not understood.  As they camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai God said, "If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (19:5-6).

God told Moses to consecrate the people and on the THIRD DAY He would speak to them from a dark cloud over the mountain.  God warned the people not to touch the mountain or they would die.  "Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy" (19:23).  God then spoke the Ten Commandments and we read, "When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear.  They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself and we will listen.  But do not have God speak to us or we will die'" (20:18-19).  They were beginning to realize something about God ... a very important lesson:  God is holy!  Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid.  God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning" (20:20).

As God spoke to the people of Israel through Moses He repeatedly said to them "Be holy, because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2).  The writer of Hebrews would say centuries later, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).    Isaiah had a vision of God's holiness and cried out, "Woe to me!  I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty" (Isaiah 6:5).  The entire Old Testament reveals the holiness and justice of God and the un-holiness of all of mankind, including Israel.  The Law and the sacrifices pointed out the consequences of sin and the need for a sacrifice.  Only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was and where the Presence of God was ...

ALL of this was and is a picture of mankind's need for a Savior ... and God's provision of the perfect Lamb ... His own Son.  The New Testament reveals the WAY, the ONLY way, to approach God without fear through faith in Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  Peter writes, "Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy'" (I Peter 1:16).  Then he goes on to write, "You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (I Peter 1:18-19).  God is holy, but He has made a way for sinful people to approach Him.  JESUS!!  HE is the way! And He rose from the dead on the THIRD day, making a way for us to enter into the presence of God WITHOUT fear!!

Through faith in Jesus Christ believers can approach God!!  Listen to the reference to Exodus that the writer of Hebrews makes:  "You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them ... but you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven!!" (Hebrews 12:18-23).  What a remarkable contrast!

With John we can proclaim, "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father - to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen" (Revelation 1:5-6).  God is STILL holy, yet He has made a way for you and me to come to Him without fear through the blood of Jesus.  Therefore, let us come with boldness before Him and WORSHIP the Lord, our God, for HE IS HOLY!!!

"O Lord, our God, I confess Your holiness and my un-holiness.  I have sinned against You and am not worthy to be called Your child.  Yet, Father, I believe that You have provided the perfect sacrifice for MY sin in Your Son Jesus Christ and I put my trust wholly and completely in Him for forgiveness and life.  Thank You, Father, for Your amazing grace.  Fill me with Your Spirit that I may be holy, as YOU are holy, and live my life to worship You!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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