Summary: At Mt. Horeb God spoke to the Israelites; we learn that God’s central desire is personal connection to His People.
Drawing Near #1
Lessons from Mt. Horeb
(Some ideas from Drawing Near, John Bevere)
SCRIPTURE READING: Exodus 19:3-6
Last summer … when I was on Sabbatical … I read a book called Drawing Near by John Bevere. The main thing I got from that time away was a fresh understanding of how much God desires to have a personal connection with me. That is something that is hard to comprehend. I know enough about God’s Nature to believe that he LOVES me. I know that He is willing to SAVE me. But to think that he really ENJOYS the idea of being close to me … to think that God actually TREASURES time spent with me … now that is something hard for me to understand.
Today I want to look at some familiar scenes from the Old Testament … but I want to look at them in a new way. We all know how God chose Moses to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery. We remember the Burning Bush, the 10 Plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and so on …
But WHAT MOTIVATED GOD to do all of that? What did God WANT out of the bargain? Amazingly, what we’re going to see is that what God wanted was very simple. God wanted a to get up-close and personal with His People.
First, let’s examine the scene at the burning bush.
1. The scene at the burning bush - God Instigates a Relationship
At the beginning of Exodus chapter 3, we see Moses tending sheep on the back side of the desert. He’s minding his own business when suddenly God instigates contact with him. God catches his attention with a Bush that won’t stop Burning. Moses could have ignored this strange sight, but instead, he drew near. And when he did, God spoke to him --- audibly --- from the bush.
Most of us know that at this point God told Moses to go back to Egypt and rescue the Israelite slaves. But I had never stopped to notice the REASON God wanted to do this. Look at Exodus 3:12 where God told Moses, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Now, “this mountain” was Mount Horeb --- also known as Mount Sinai. God wanted to bring His People to the Mountain for one purpose … so they could draw close to Him in worship.
Which takes us to the next familiar scene of Moses before Pharaoh.
2. The scene of Moses before Pharaoh - God Issues an Invitation
Once again, most of us are familiar with the scene of Moses standing before Pharaoh demanding: Let my people go! But look at exactly what Moses said to Pharaoh in Exodus 5:1 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ’Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’”
I must admit, I usually blew past that verse because I thought the big deal is that God wanted to get His People to the Promised Land … the land flowing with milk and honey that would some day belong to them.
But I see now that the FIRST thing God wanted was a big worship celebration. Do you see how significant that is? God wanted to “party” with his people! It’s as if He sent the Israelites a special Invitation to a big party given in His honor.
Look at the loving way God worded this special invitation. In Exodus 19, we see God opening His heart to show how much he values these invited guests. God told Moses, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ’You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you [a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." Exodus 19:3-6
Do you see how God is revealing his heart to his people? God made Himself vulnerable by showing how much he loved them. He called them His treasured possession. He honored them by calling them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. He showed how much he cared for them by saying, I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.