Saturday, April 28, 2012

Exodus 19:9-15 Israel Prepares To Meet With God

"The LORD said to Moses,
'I am going to come to you in a dense cloud,
so that the people will hear me speaking with you
and will always put their trust in you.'

Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.

And the LORD said to Moses,
'Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow.
Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day,
because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai
in the sight of all the people.
Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them,
"Be careful that you do not go up the mountain
or touch the foot of it.
Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.
He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows;
not a hand is to be laid on him.
Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live."

Only when the ram's horn sounds a long blast
may they go up to the mountain.'

After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people,
he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.
Then he said to the people,
"Prepare yourselves for the third day.  Abstain from sexual relations."

Exodus 19:9-15 (NIV)

Some observations:
  • The LORD was coming to the people in a dense cloud.  They would not have been able to bear the absolute holiness of God face to face.  Remember Exodus 13:21-22, where God led His people on their journey out of Egypt in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night?  He never left them, but He also shielded Himself from their direct view.
  • God was going to come to them so that they would be close enough to hear for themselves what God was saying to Moses.  Then, in the future, they would always be able to trust that God was indeed speaking to Moses, and they would believe what he told them.
  • After Moses tells the LORD what the people had said, the LORD gives Moses specific instructions as to how they might draw near to Him safely.  Limits were to be placed around the mountain so that curious individuals would not attempt to go up the mountain or even touch the mountain.  Disobedience was punishable by death.  Even animals were not permitted to touch the mountain.
  • Even in carrying out the death sentence against those who might disobey, no one could touch the one who had touched the mountain.  Otherwise that person would also become liable to death, I suppose.  Instead, the disobedient were to be shot with arrows or stoned, methods of punishment which would not require actual human contact.
  • Only when the ram's horn sounded a long blast could the people approach the foot of the mountain.
  • Moses consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes.  This process made them ceremonially clean so that they could participate in this meeting with God.
  • Moses told the people to prepare for their meeting with God on the third day.  Meanwhile,they were to abstain from sexual relations.  This does not mean that sex is in some way 'dirty', but it would render them ceremonially unclean.
  • This passage reminds me about the utter holiness of the LORD, and the respect we should have for Him.   

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