December 5, 2022
“The Lord directed Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people not to break through to see the Lord; otherwise, many of them will die. Even the priests who come near the Lord...”
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“The Lord directed Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people not to break through to see the Lord; otherwise, many of them will die. Even the priests who come near the Lord must purify themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.’ But Moses responded to the Lord, ‘The people cannot come up Mount Sinai since you warned us: Put a boundary around the mountain and consider it holy.’” Exodus 19:21-23
Several months after their exodus from Egypt, Moses was obviously frustrated with the children of Israel. Bellyaching had replaced appreciation as the national demeanor of God’s people. It is easy to be frustrated with complaining people; they compromise the bulk of a pastor’s ministry burden. The Bible calls us “sheep,” and we are all created with an acute need for a shepherd.
At this point in the Exodus, though, Moses seems as frustrated with God as much as he did with the people. Perhaps the source of his frustration concerned a promise God made when He called Moses to lead Israel.
“But Moses asked God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt? God answered, ‘I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worship God at this mountain.’” Exodus 3:11-12
Moses had done all God had told him to do. He went to Egypt, spoke to Israel, spoke to Pharaoh, obeyed the Lord, and led Israel out. In Moses’ heart, he must have felt he held up his end of the bargain. At what he thought was the end, Moses was ready to see the completion of his calling. The people were standing at the foot of the mountain. All Moses needed to see was for Israel to worship on that mountain. Then, his season of shepherding would be completed. But God withheld Israel from coming up the mountain!
Why would God withhold the fulfillment of His promise to Moses? More so, why would He deny Israel the freedom to worship in His presence?
Worship is a matter of the heart, and Israel’s heart was not ready. Nor was Moses’ heart. Much of what men would let pass for worship, the Lord literally cannot stand!
Has the Lord withheld something from you lately? Trust that His judgment & timing are always perfectly aligned with His plan & character. Wait on the Lord’s timing. Who knows what the world would be like today had Israel waited on the Lord until Moses returned from the mountain, bearing the tablets of the 10 Commandments? Yet, their worship of the golden calf proved God’s wisdom in not allowing them to enter His presence in the first place. His desire was for their worship, but that would take time, and in His patient, gracious wisdom, God would teach Israel how to worship rightly. Remember: the word “Torah” does not translate as “Law.” It translates as “Teaching.”