Moses was instructed by the Lord to prepare the people to meet with Him. God was in the business of restoration. “Now if you obey Me fully, and keep My covenant, then, out of all the nations you will be My treasured possession” (19:5). First He called them to remember the recent events which had brought them safely out of Egypt. God describes it: “I carried you on eagles wings, and brought you to Myself” (19:4). He had revealed His power by rescuing them from slavery, and now He becomes very personal. His plan is for a relationship. “Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom or priests and a holy nation” (19:6).
Many years before, God had made a covenant with their forefathers, beginning with Abraham and passing down the generations through Isaac and Jacob. Now He is about to renew His covenant. The offer is conditional -“If”. The people responded together: “We will do everything the Lord has said” (19:8). The stage was set. Moses, acting as the go-between, conveyed the Lord’s instructions to the people. In order to meet with this powerful Holy God they must purify themselves. Consecration involved rituals of physical cleanliness, including sexual abstinence, as well as being clothed in clean garments (19:10,15). This procedure is intended to “honour the Lord your God….who makes you holy” (Leviticus 20:7-8). As clean as we might try to be, it is God alone who can make us holy.
There were limits put upon the people – a boundary was established around Mount Sinai. “Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death” (19:12, 23). If God told us today that certain limits were to be observed, or else we would die, how seriously would we take His words? Yet His word clearly states “The soul who sins is the one who will die”. Our response to God must be personal…”The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Habakkuk understood the holiness of God. “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrong” (1:13). This is why His Holy Son, under the burden of the sins of the world cried from the cross “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
As the people gathered around Sinai, after three days of preparation, they were greeted by lightening and thunder! While a thick cloud covered the mountain, everyone trembled at loud blasts from a trumpet. Then the Lord descended in fire, while smoke billowed like smoke from a furnace. At last God had the attention of His people.
The Apostle Paul knew folks in his day needed to pay attention to God. He asked “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing, the blood of the Covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” He warned “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Hebrews 10:29-31).
The Hebrews, waiting before God at Mount Sinai were ready, consecrated, and committed to serving God in a Covenant relationship. They stood on Holy ground to receive their orders. Ten commandments became their rule of life. After Jesus’ death and resurrection we can reread these commandments as words of promise. There are no other gods. “I am the way, the truth and the life” Jesus declared. (John 14:6). Through Him God has shown the love He promised on that eventful day to His people at Sinai, promised to a thousand generations of those “who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:6).
If we want to see God and to hear His voice in the intimacy of a holy relationship, we need to remove our sandals. They are dirty from walking through a sinful world. Jesus washed His disciples feet, as a symbol of service to Holy God. If we hope to witness to others about the gospel, we need to do so from a position of strength gained only from standing on Holy ground, having our feet “fitted with the readiness [commitment] that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Are you willing and ready to stand on Holy ground?
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)