How do you prepare to go to church?
Let’s admit it, most people like to sleep in on Sunday. It is a day when the routine of the week is thrown out and we rush around trying to find our shoes that we only wear once a week.
However, if we think about it, how we prepare speaks to how much we value and expect the presence of the Lord as we worship.
The events of Exodus 19 on Mount Sinai are one of the most incredible accounts of the presence of God in the whole Bible. The mountain where God spoke to Moses and gave the children of Israel the Law. Can you imagine the scene, the thunder, the earthquake, the deafening trumpet, the smoke, and the voice of God?
The events at Mount Sinai were monumental in the history of the world. God was creating for Himself a new nation with new laws and a new way of life. God showed Himself as the one who desires relationship and communion with His people. Unlike any other world religion, our God came down to His people. He is the initiator of the relationship.
God gave the Israelites the Law, that became known as the Law of Moses. It revealed the holiness of God and clearly defined sin once and for all. God was preparing this nation to be the nation that would host the presence of God in the form and flesh of Jesus the Messiah.
The giving of the Law is remembered by the Jewish Holiday, Shavuot, which is 50 days from the Passover. The Law was in effect the constitution of the nation at a time when they were celebrating their freedom from Egyptian slavery. Shavuot is also known by the ancient Greek word for fifty, Pentecost.
Over the course of almost a year Moses went up Mount Sinai several times (as many as eight) to meet God as recorded between Exodus 19 and the end of the book. Not bad for an eighty-year-old man!
The first time Moses went up the mountain, God told him that He is offering a blessing to the people of Israel if they will keep the covenant (Exodus 19:5-6). By saying this, God was confirming the covenant He had made with Abraham.
A priest was a mediator between God and man. By making the nation of Israel a Kingdom of Priests, the whole nation would act as a mediator of the presence of God to the whole earth as God promised Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3).
Moses reported the message to the people, and the people respond by saying, “We will do everything the Lord has said” (Exodus 19:8). God spoke to Moses so that all the people could hear Him. By doing this God elevated Moses in the sight of the people (Exodus 19:9).
This is a picture of what would happen during the life of Jesus. When Jesus was Baptized, God spoke from heaven giving His approval of His son in front of the crowd (Matthew 3:16-17).
In verse 10 God told Moses to instruct the people to consecrate themselves, to get ready for His meeting with them on the third day. They had not yet received the ceremonial laws, but they did know enough to clean their clothes and prepare themselves. It isn’t that God demands clean clothes, rather it is the value of preparation, taking time to prepare to meet God.
The third day arrives and verse 16 says, “On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.” Can you imagine how terrifying that must have been? Verse 18 says that the whole mountain trembled as God descended on it. The mountain is covered in a thick cloud to protect the people from the full glory of God. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, terrifying the people, Moses speaks. He simply speaks and God answers him in thunder (Hebrews 12:28-29).
Over the period of almost a year, the people camped at the base of the mountain. During that time God gave Moses the law, he established the Mosaic Covenant and officially made the children of Israel the nation of Israel.
Our God is an awesome and powerful God, but here is our incredible privilege, we have access like Moses, we can speak directly to God because of what Jesus has done for us. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice that paid for our sins once and for all, we can come boldly before the Lord. Jesus is our High priest and mediator.
There is another incredible connection between the Old and New Testaments.
This was the first Pentecost celebration, and we have another Pentecost celebration that stands out in the Bible. In Acts chapter 2, God poured out the Holy Spirit and established the Church during Pentecost.
But there is a further connection. As the people waited for Moses, they grew impatient and had Aaron form them a golden calf to worship. Moses furiously broke the stone tablets as we read in Exodus 32 and the resulting judgement for the sins of the people cost about 3000 men their lives. 3000 people died at the time when they were receiving the law.
Fast forward 1400 years, the disciples gathered at Pentecost as the Holy Spirit comes on them. They go out into the streets of Jerusalem and Peter preaches a powerful evangelistic sermon, and the result is that about 3000 people are saved! The law leads to death, but the Spirit brings life. The apostle Paul refers to the law of sin and death in Romans 8:1–2.
So, how do you prepare yourself for worship on a Sunday?
Preparation starts all through the week. God repeated over and over, consecrate yourself, get ready, be prepared! Do we prepare ourselves before coming to church on a Sunday? Or do we spend Saturday night watching immoral shows and then wonder why we don’t “feel” God on Sunday morning.
Are we as the church preparing ourselves? Asking God to strip away from us the idols that are keeping us from experiencing His presence.