Summary: At Mt. Sinai, Moses and the Israelites learned that God must be approached with proper respect and appropriate preparation. The same is the case with our relationship with God.
A. I like the story told of the male school teacher who had back surgery over the summer and began the school year wearing a solid plastic cast around the upper part of his body.
1. It fit under his shirt and was not noticeable at all.
2. On the first day of school, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in the school.
3. Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, he opened the window as wide as possible and then busied himself with desk work.
4. When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he took the desk stapler, in full view of the students, and stapled the tie to his chest.
5. Needless to say, he had no disciple problems that year.
B. There is a healthy fear and respect that all of us need to have for those who are in authority over us and that is especially true with respect to God.
1. Take a look at this cartoon – the sign in front of this church building says: “Welcome – Putting the Fear of God in folks since 1874.”
a. How do you react to that? Do you think that is a bad thing or a good thing?
b. It is important to strive for a balance by emphasizing God’s love and grace, on the one hand, and God’s holiness, justice and wrath, on the other.
2. Therefore, this billboard is an appropriate one: “Fear God – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (a truth often repeated in Scripture – especially Proverbs – 1:7).
3. I’m afraid that we are often far too casual in our approach to God.
4. I’m afraid that many contemporary conceptions of God are far too shallow and small – God is not our buddy, pal, or bell-boy.
5. Our God is holy and is exalted above all.
a. He is the only wise God, the Creator, the sovereign Lord and Master.
b. He tells us what to do, and we have no safe option but to obey.
c. There is no alternative, no multiple choice.
d. We have but one directive, and that is to do His will.
6. A shallow view of God leads to a shallow life.
a. Treat God superficially and flippantly and we become superficial and flippant.
b. Often our obedience to God might as well depend on the flip of a coin – heads we do, tails we don’t.
c. If I feel like it, great. If I don’t, well…He’s a God of grace, right; and certainly He will understand and go easy on us, right?
C. Frankly, we do not find such accommodating nonsense in Scripture – certainly not in a passage like Exodus 19.
1. So let’s take a look at Moses’ meeting with God and see what we might need to learn about our own meeting with God.
I. The Story
A. Exodus 19 opens in the shadow of Mt. Sinai.
1. The Israelites have been in the desert for about 3 months and they now have arrived at the mountain, which happens to be the same place where Moses’ whole adventure began.
2. It was there and then that God made the promise: “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.” (Ex. 3:12)
3. And so they have arrived, just as God had promised.
B. Chances are that few of us have ever been or ever will be at Mt. Sinai.
1. So let’s try to get an appreciation for this amazing and majestic sight.
2. Mt. Sinai is a series of solid granite peaks that soar into the desert sky at the base of the Sinai Peninsula.
3. In a book about Mt. Sinai called God’s Wilderness, there is a photo with this caption: “The awe-inspiring granite peaks at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula seem to form a gigantic fist of God proclaiming: ‘Here! Here!’ ”
4. The book adds, “Israeli scholars, who explored the Peninsula in the brief period of Israeli occupation, came to experience a holiness pervading Sinai’s mountains.”
5. The Israelites gathered as a people, approximately 2 million strong, to hear God’s voice in the shadow of these peaks that reach no less than 8 thousand feet heavenward.
C. As you recall from our lesson a couple of weeks ago, the Israelites did a lot of grumbling and complaining as they made their move toward this place.
1. There is always a need to prepare ourselves before entering into God’s presence.
2. Let’s notice the four prerequisites God required of His people before they could meet with Him.
D. The first prerequisite was a willingness to obey.