Summary: In order for God to work within a congregation, His church needs to understand the critical importance of setting boundaries, and committing themselves to purity and holiness.
OPEN: One man told of the time that his company’s factory had received an ominous package. It arrived at the loading dock with this warning printed on it: Danger! Do Not Touch!
“Management was called and we were told to stay clear of the box until it could be analyzed. When the foreman arrived, he donned gloves and safety glasses, and then carefully opened the box. Inside were 25 signs – each of which read: Danger! Do Not Touch!”
APPLY: About a year before the incident we’re reading about here in Exodus 19, Moses was a shepherd taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep. One area that apparently offered good pasture land was an area that lay in the shadow of Mt. Horeb… the Mountain of God.
It was there that Moses saw a strange sight on the side of the mountain. It was a bush that was on fire it did not burn up. This so intrigued Moses that he determined to investigate and when he did, God spoke to him from the bush.
Does anybody remember what God’s first words were to Moses that day?
"Do not come any closer, Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5
Another way of saying that would have been: “Danger! Do not touch… this is holy ground.”
Now, nearly a year later, God brings Moses and people of Israel back to that same mountain. When they arrive, God challenges them a make lifetime commitment to Him and then He tells them to take the next couple of days to sanctify themselves. They are to wash their clothes and to focus on that mountain.
To drive home the importance of this experience God has them put limits around the mountain. They are to fence it off. And anyone who crosses the line and touches the mountain is to die.
God essentially tells them the same thing that He’d told Moses a year or so before: “Danger! Do not touch… this is holy ground.”
Now, there are a few things in this story that got me to thinking.
1st – when you deal with God… you need to understand that there are boundaries.
There are things you don’t do…. Places you don’t go… things you don’t say… etc. etc.
Paul writes the Ephesians and says: “I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.”
Essentially, the Ephesians were told “Don’t touch those things. You are a Holy people!”
Galatians tells us that there are two ways of living: God’s way… and the world’s.
If you live God’s way - if you allow the Spirit of God to control your life - then you will be a person filled with Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
BUT, if you cross the line… if you allow yourself to breach the wall that separates yourself from the world then you’ll find your life controlled by things like: “sexual immorality, impurity… hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Galatians 5:19a-21
You don’t want to go there.
You don’t want to cross that line.
Those who crossed the line in Moses’ day died.
Those who cross that line mentioned in Galatians 5 will suffer even a worse fate.
Paul says to the Galatians “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:22
THOSE FOLKS ARE GOING TO GO TO HELL!
We serve a Holy God who calls us to be a holy people and if we ignore His boundaries, we do so at our own peril.
ILLUS: About 10 years ago I read about a military base on Okinawa. At the end of their July 4th celebration, there was to be a spectacular fireworks display. Apparently, as the time approached 3 tipsy airmen headed for the commanding officer. One of the men ambled up to the general and, without even a salute, cheerfully swatted his arm.
"Say," he asked the general, "what time do the fireworks start?"
The general eyed him coolly for a moment then replied, "Any minute, son. Any minute."
There are boundaries in this life you don’t want to cross.
And there are boundaries we don’t want to cross with God.