February 21, 2010 ~ Winbourne Park Long Term Care Centre

The Israelites had a lot of cleaning up to do before they were ready to meet God. But God is so perfect an holy that no amount of scrubbing could make us clean enough to meet Him. That’s why Jesus came. Jesus’ death and resurrection were like the bath we need to cleanse us from our sins. If you believe in Jesus and have asked for forgiveness, you are clean and holy because of what Jesus did. Isn’t it wonderful to know that He took care of all that for us?


Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. Ephesians 1:4


The One Year Bible for Kids, Challenge Edition; 2004;

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Wheaton, Illinois.


The passages quoted above come from a devotional Bible my family reads at breakfast each morning and concerns the gathering of the Israelite nation around Mount Sinai to meet with God after their deliverance from Egypt. Here is the overall context of the event:


Exodus 19:2-19  …Israel encamped before the mountain,  3  while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel:  4  You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.  5  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;  6  and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."  7  So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him.  8  All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.  9  And the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever." When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD,  10  the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments  11  and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.  12  And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, 'Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.  13  No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.' When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain."  14  So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments.  15  And he said to the people, "Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman."  16  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.  17  Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.  18  Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.  19  And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.


In order for the Israelites to meet God when He came down to Mount Sinai they had to:

-       Consecrate themselves

-       Wash their clothes

-       Abstain from sexual relations

But it is also very apparent that our dirt goes much deeper than what can be cleaned by merely devoting one’s self to God, taking a bath and abstinence from sexual relations; otherwise the great array of sacrifices that God would put in place through Moses would have no meaning. As the writer of the letter to the Hebrews wrote:

Hebrews 9:22  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Clearly blood is necessary to clean us from the dirt deep within us that water cannot touch; but the writer of Hebrews goes on to say that:

Hebrews 10:4  …it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

So, even though God warned the Israelites to purify themselves as much as possible before meeting Him at Mount Sinai, and even though He forgave sins through the sacrifice of bulls and goats, it is clear that neither was enough to make man entirely right with God. But because both were required by God it is evident that they were intended as symbols of something else that would take place to make man right with God. If not, then the hope these practices gave would be vain as they promised something that they could not deliver and would not be delivered by any other means.


But God knows this too and He had His own plan in place before we could even begin to realize the futility of cleaning ourselves. Listen to what God says through the prophet Isaiah:


Isaiah 59:16-60:1  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.  17  He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.  18  According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment.  19  So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives.  20  "And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression," declares the LORD.  21  "And as for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring," says the LORD, "from this time forth and forevermore."  60:1  Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.


That the “glory of the LORD” that has risen upon us is Jesus cannot be doubted; as John the apostle confirms by opening his gospel with these words:


John 1:1-5  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2  He was in the beginning with God.  3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


So, though we were filthy and could not approach God without becoming clean, the washing that was put in place at Mount Sinai was insufficient and served only as a symbol and to indicate the desperation of our situation. Without being clean we could not approach God but there was nothing we could do to clean ourselves and so we would never be able to approach God; even to ask His help.


BUT! God loved us so much that He took it upon Himself to make us clean so that we could not only approach Him but could also call Him “Father!” Referring again to the gospel of John:


John 3:14-17  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  15  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.  16  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.


So, believing in Jesus we are made clean before God. Not by anything we have done but only because of God’s love for us. We are clean because Jesus took our filth upon Himself and shared His perfection with us. We are clean because God has washed us.