‘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.’ Exodus 19:10-11
Suggested Readings: Exodus 19, Leviticus 16, and Hebrews 10:19-22
Having an encounter with the God of the universe requires preparation. We often forget who we are talking to when we enter into prayer or gather together to worship. God is so awesome that we cannot stand in His physical presence or look upon His face this side of Heaven. He gives us each day of our lives and gives us the breath we draw into our lungs each moment. He is the creator all things who holds our lives in His hands. He is entirely Holy and on our own, we are not worthy to enter his presence.
In Exodus 19, God had rescued the people of Israel from the Egyptians and He was ready to meet them face to face to establish a new covenant. God commanded Moses to have the people take a full two days to consecrate themselves both physically and spiritually before this meeting. On the third day, God spoke directly to His people in thunder and lightning through a dense cloud on the top of the mountain. One can only imagine how moving, yet terrifying this amazing encounter with God must have been.
Somehow, in our modern age, we have forgotten who God is. We, as Christians, focus on Jesus as a ‘cuddly’ baby or a man who is the definition of love. To us, He is seemingly much ‘safer’ than Almighty God the Father. We forget that Jesus is a member of the Trinity, the triune God. We have significantly reduced the ‘fear’ and reverence towards God in the way we worship. The passage in Exodus 19 provides us with a sobering reminder of the power and supremacy of God and the need to prepare ourselves in meeting Him. The fact is that God is dangerous, holding our life and eternity in the palm of His hand and is able to transform our lives in amazing ways.
Henry Blackaby writes, ‘Meeting with God requires preparation. God is awesome and perfectly holy. Barging into His presence unprepared is an affront. Genuine worship requires spiritual preparation. Your experiences of worship reflect your spiritual preparation. Prepare yourself now for your next encounter with God.’
I don’t know about you, but I’m really good at preparing for my hobbies, but not so good at preparing for encounters with God. I can spend days preparing for a hunting trip or project around the house, but literally no time preparing for worship. For most of us, we casually enter the presence totally unprepared. On most Sundays, as a parent to young children, my preparation is more focused on getting to worship on time and keeping them quiet during the service than on a meaningful spiritual encounter with God. For the people of Israel, the ceremonial washing of the outward body was symbolic of the cleansing of one’s soul in preparation worship. They were focused on presenting oneself clean and holy before God Almighty. While we don’t perform ceremonial washing, besides our morning shower, we can learn from them on how to present ourselves before God.
Do we come to worship loaded down with cares and concerns of life? Are we overly concerned with our outward appearance? Are we coming into God’s presence holding onto bitterness and hate? Do we need to forgive someone today or make things right in a relationship? Do we have unrepentant sin in our lives? These are the questions we need to be asking prior to coming to worship and stepping into the holy presence of God. If we can begin to take the necessary steps towards preparing ourselves for a meaningful encounter with God, we can begin to experience the amazing things God wants to do in our lives.