DIG: How do God’s people become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (19:6, 10-15)? Why do you think so much emphasis is placed on barring people from the mountain? On washing their clothes? On abstaining from sexual relations?
REFLECT: How do believers today wash or abstain to get ready for an encounter with the living God? What do you to prepare to worship the LORD? How else can you set yourself apart for Him? When you think of encountering ADONAI is it a pleasing or terrifying thought? Why?
To properly worship God both inward and outward preparations were necessary. My mother was raised in the Quaker Church. When she was a little girl, she said her parents called Saturday, “Preparation day,” because it was a day to prepare both physically, mentally and spiritually to meet with the LORD on Sunday.
ADONAI said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow.” The verbal root of the word consecrate is qadash, which literally means to set apart, to make unique or to make distinct. The prophet is to prepare the people to be pure and sanctified because on the third day ADONAI would descend on the mountain to meet with them. He commanded: Have them wash their clothes for two days and be ready by the third day, because on that day ADONAI will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people (19:10-11). The Bible often depicts God as dwelling in the heavens above (First Kings 8:30 and 49; John 8:23); therefore, any appearance on earth requires that He should come down (Genesis 11:5-7, 18:21; Exodus 3:8).
YHVH would come down on the third day. Three days is a significant time period in the Scriptures. For instance, in the story of the offering of Isaac and his father Abraham, the two of them traveled for three days after God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice him. On the third day they came to Mount Moriah, the place of the sacrifice (Genesis 22:4). The reason for the three days’ delay was so that Abraham could not act spontaneously, or impulsively, in obeying God’s Word. He had to prepare and ponder. The same is true of the people of Isra'el at the foot of Mount Sinai. They could not act impulsively, but they had to wait and seriously consider the meaning of God’s meeting with them.351
Just as Moses was earlier commanded to remove his sandals on the holy ground where God met him (3:5), so now the people were to keep their distance from the holy mountain. 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. The same result was echoed in the Garden of Eden if Adam or Eve failed to obey God’s similar warning (Genesis 2:17).352 He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows, not a hand is to he laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live. The mountain was off limits, and so would be the body of any transgressor. Only when the ram’s horn sounded a long blast would they be able to go up to the mountain (19:12-13). Because the mountain would be holy, a boundary was set. Mount Sinai became off limits for both man and beast.
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” (19:14-15). This abstinence was so that they could devote themselves entirely to their preparation days. They were being permitted with a unique situation and they needed to abstain from some legitimate pleasures.
Such careful preparation underscored the significance of the event that was about to transpire. The God of the heavens was about to make a covenant with His people. Unlike pagan deities who supposedly lived on the mountains, the God of Isra'el descended from heaven to the mountain to speak with His people (First Kings 8:30 and 49).353
This must have been a terrifying experience for the people of Isra'el. They were not permitted to go up the mountain, even touch it, or they would die. Even their animals were not allowed to cross the boundary of the sacred area. They had agreed to a covenant that they didn’t even know. They had to wash their clothes. They were afraid.
The writer to the Hebrews contrasts the anxious, frightening and apprehensive scene with the way the New Covenant believer comes before ADONAI. He says: 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, because they could not bear what was commanded, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” Then we get some insight from the New Covenant that we did not get from the Old. The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said: I am trembling with fear.
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 a community of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men and women made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a New Covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:18-24).
The fear of those on the verge of accepting Jesus should not be of persecution they might receive for believing in Him, but the judgment they will inevitably receive for rejecting Him. Their fear should not be of coming to Mount Zion but of turning back to Mount Sinai. The contrast is clear.354
What is your choice? Mount Zion or Mount Sinai? Or that of no choice? Some believe that they are not choosing. But in fact, by seemingly not choosing, they have turned their back on Yeshua. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (James 4:4). There are only two kinds of spiritual food, “devils food” or “angels food.” and if you aren’t eating one – you’re eating the other!
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017