A few years ago, there was a group of us sharing the gospel here in our city. We were handing out tracts and doing some street preaching. One of the brothers gave a short message from Amos 4:12, and his main point was “Prepare to Meet God.” What a timeless message!
Thousands of years ago, Amos gave this message to his audience. And many years before Amos, the children of Israel were given specific instructions for how to meet God at Mt Sinai, and the children of Israel got to experience what many of us long for. They heard the trumpet, saw the smoke, and felt the earth shake. How incredible to be there and meet God like they did.
The message given by Amos was and is relevant for all of us. Since then, the prophets of God have been declaring this message, and we also need to take this message personally and then share it with everyone. This is because it WILL happen, and we need to prepare. J. Mark will tell us more about how to prepare, but before he does, let’s look at two verses which show us that we will meet God. Meeting God is not optional; it doesn’t depend on whether you feel like it or not. You will meet God and stand before Him. Here is how we can be so certain.
Romans 14:12, “So then each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
This is a serious verse for each one of us to think about. If you know Jesus, stay focused, live for Him; our small choices do matter. And if you have rejected Jesus, this warning is for you. Your life is not your own; you are not the only boss. You may think so and live that way; however, you will have to give an account to your Creator.
Philippians 2:10-11, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…”
Listen, our plea is for you to do this before you are standing before Him. Don’t wait. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to confess and turn from your sin. Many will want to when they are standing before Him, but then it will be too late.
It is not a question of if I will meet God; the question is, “When I will meet Him?” It is going to happen. My advice is to live like it. Now listen to Pastor J. Mark Horst as he teaches us more from Exodus about how to meet God.
Suppose you had an appointment with God. What would you do? How would you prepare for that meeting? What would be first on your list of preparations? Did you know that we all have an appointment with God? Yes, the writer of Hebrews puts it like this; “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27).
We know that a meeting time has been set. There is no question about that. In the case of Israel in our text for today, it was established on the third day. But I’m interested in knowing how you will meet Him, because your meeting time with Him has also been fixed.
HOW TO MEET GOD is outlined in Exodus 19:9-25 where God showed Himself in power in preparation for His people to hear His voice.
9. And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee and believe in thee forever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.
10. And the LORD said unto Moses, go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes,
11. And be ready for the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
12. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
13. There shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet sounds long, they shall come up to the mount.
14. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.
15. And he said unto the people, be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.
16. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.
17. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.
18. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.
19. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice.
20. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
21. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.
22. And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.
23. And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.
24. And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them.
25. So Moses went down unto the people and spoke unto them.
From Israel’s experience, we may gather those certain COUNSELS we ought to heed in preparation to meet God.
The First Counsel is to
Moses was instructed by the Lord to sanctify the people. He said, “Sanctify them today and tomorrow.” Now what does it mean to sanctify? It means to clean up, to get rid of the dirt, moral and physical. We are told in another place in the Bible to have our consciences sprinkled with blood and our bodies washed with pure water. Sanctify them, clean them up, get rid of the dirt, moral and physical.
Then regard what is holy. The Lord told Moses he was to set boundaries around the mountain where God was going to meet with His people. I am thoroughly convinced that many of us today have lost our sense of the holy. We have reduced everything to the common. Nothing is sacred anymore. Here God is teaching us that when He comes to meet His people, some things are proper, and some are not. We need to recapture the meaning of the holy.
Certain preparation is essential if we are to meet God. It is for us to clean up. “Sanctify them today and tomorrow and let them wash their clothes.” How are you going to clean up? That is an important question. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” God knows how to clean you up on the inside from the filth of sin. But you must be willing to use His method of cleansing. In the New Testament, we are told the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. I counsel you: in your preparation to meet God, you need to clean up.
The Second Counsel is to
When Israel came on that third day to the base of the mountain and saw God coming down, they stood in awe. Because God is the Almighty, He is the One who is above all others. The Prophet Isaiah said, “To whom then will you liken me or to whom shall I be equal.” God stands above all others; He has NO equal!
When He came down on the mountain, the people stood in awe because the mountain began to shake violently. It was full of lightning and thunder, and in the camp, the people trembled. The Almighty came down to meet with His people, and they looked up.
They listened for Him because He had a Word for them. When they heard the trumpet sound, they stood at the lower part of the mount. Believe me, they were paying attention, as I’m sure you would be too. They were attentive, looking up, and listening for a word from the Lord, expecting something from Him. And they trembled when the trumpet sounded extremely loud.
There is a holy fear which is very necessary in our preparation to meet God and look up to Him. King David said in the 121st Psalm: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Yes, my friend, it is important for you to look up if you are to meet God.
The Third Counsel is to
The Lord called Moses up into the mount, and Moses went up – face to face with God. We are told later that Moses was the only man with whom the Lord spoke face-to-face. He said, “come up,” and Moses went up, obedient to what the Lord had to say to him.
But then God also commanded him, “Go down.” At first, Moses argued with the Lord that it was not necessary for him to go down, but the Lord insisted. He said, “Away, get down and come up and bring Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up unto the Lord lest He break forth upon them.”
In response to God’s call, Moses went up, and in response to God’s command, Moses went down to ensure that everything He had said would be properly carried out. There was no resistance on the part of Moses.
You must also be ready to do what God calls you to do. If He calls you to come up, then you must go up. If He calls you to go down, then you must go down. Moses is, for us, a model in meeting with God. It is for us to come up to God to learn what He commands and go down to carry it out. This is how we meet God.
To meet God, then I urge upon you these counsels from this significant experience of Israel: clean up, look up, come up. That results in a personal relationship with God.
Thanks, J. Mark, for this teaching, and thank you for being here for this teaching from God’s Word. It is amazing how timeless the Bible is. We believe this book is the best foundation to live by. For all the hard questions in life, the Bible has the best answers—not the easy answers, but certainly the best ones. And He, Jesus, promises to be with us; what a comforting promise.
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Thank you so much for being with us. We look forward to next week and hope you will join us for more lessons from Exodus. I will leave you with the comforting promise Jesus left to all His disciples in the last verse of Matthew, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
*This episode is an exposition of Exodus 19:9-25 by J. Otis Yoder, re-recorded by J. Mark Horst, with an opening and closing by Arlin Horst.