Summary: 1) Only those who promise obedience 2) Only those sprinkled with blood
Last month a Toronto-based hedge fund manager paid $1.68 million US to have lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffet. Courtenay Wolfe spent on one lunch what it costs to buy 560,000 Happy Meals! How much would you pay to have lunch with a celebrity? How many Happy Meals is Hannah Montana or Tiger Woods worth? Would you dole out $1,000 for a bite to eat with these celebrities? You might if you really admire these people.
In our text today Moses and a select number of Israelites got to eat with a celebrity of sorts. They ate with God! What made these men so special that they got to dine with the divine? Let’s find out so that one day we too can have lunch with God.
While Wolfe plans to meet Buffet in a New York steak joint for their lunch, Moses and select elders from Israel had lunch with God on Mt. Sinai. You’ll remember that this was the mountain on which God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. In fact Moses had just received those commands and relayed them to the Israelites. The Israelites in turn promised to obey everything the Lord had commanded. They made this promise not once, not twice, but three different times (Exodus 19:8; 24:3, 7).
I wouldn’t doubt if Courtenay Wolfe has tried on at least three outfits in preparation for her lunch with Buffet. Whether she chooses a business suit or something more casual you can bet that her clothes will be spotless. She’s not going to show up to dinner with one of the richest people in the world with breakfast oatmeal still caked to her blouse. In the same way if you want to dine with the divine, you better dress appropriately, that is, you better dress to perfection. If, for example, you think you can stand in God’s presence after wantonly abusing his gift of alcohol, you will be quickly removed the way a drunken heckler would be tackled and removed from the Queen’s presence. Or if you think it’s a hassle to refrain from worshipping at a heterodox church as a testament to the truth of God’s Word, you run the risk of being denied entrance into heaven, the way someone ignoring the dress code at a fancy restaurant will be denied entrance.
God’s Word is not like the menu board at Burger King. BK is the restaurant that encourages you to order a burger to your liking. If you don’t want onions, just say so. It doesn’t work that way with God’s commands. You may not like the fact that God has commanded us to forgive those who have hurt us – to forgive them even before they ask for forgiveness, but ignore this command at your own peril. Only those who promise obedience to all of God’s commands will one day dine with the divine. If we don’t want to promise this kind of obedience, then let’s be honest. We want religion on our terms, not God’s. That’s nothing less than self-worship.
The reason God wants us to live on his terms is because it’s what’s best for us. If Buffet told Wolfe to wear a snowsuit to their lunch, the hedge-fund manager might feel kind of silly doing so in fact she’d probably refuse unless she found out that their lunch was now taking place at the South Pole. Friends, because we’ve never seen God we don’t really know what it will be like to stand in his presence. Don’t you think it would be foolish to ignore how God tells us we should prepare for this meeting? It’s Satan who wants you to show up to this meeting underdressed. If you want to dine with the divine, then promise to obey every one of God’s commands – no matter how silly or how difficult those commands may seem to you.
But it’s one thing to promise obedience and quite another to actually be obedient isn’t it? The Israelites found that out to be true. Just 40 days after they promised obedience to the Lord they broke the First Commandment when they made an idol in the form of a golden calf and pranced around it in wild celebration (Exodus 32). Even though God knew this would happen he still allowed these people to dine with him. Why? Because they had been sprinkled with cleansing blood. Listen. “Then …they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” 8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people [and on the book (Heb. 9:19, 20)] and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words” (Exodus 24:5-8).