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A Meeting With God (Exodus 19:1-25)

Sermon on 27 September 2020 by Elder Lee

Exodus 19:1-25 - “Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai. Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him. And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.” Moses told the Lord what the people had said. Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death. No hand may touch the person or animal that crosses the boundary; instead, stone them or shoot them with arrows. They must be put to death.’ However, when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, then the people may go up on the mountain. ” So Moses went down to the people. He consecrated them for worship, and they washed their clothes. He told them, “Get ready for the third day, and until then abstain from having sexual intercourse.” On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply. The Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain. Then the Lord told Moses, “Go back down and warn the people not to break through the boundaries to see the Lord, or they will die. Even the priests who regularly come near to the Lord must purify themselves so that the Lord does not break out and destroy them.” “But Lord,” Moses protested, “the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai. You already warned us. You told me, ‘Mark off a boundary all around the mountain to set it apart as holy.’” But the Lord said, “Go down and bring Aaron back up with you. In the meantime, do not let the priests or the people break through to approach the Lord, or he will break out and destroy them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them what the Lord had said.”

These things happened 3500 years ago in the Bible. We might think that it is a historical story. Actually, it is not. In the future, when Jesus returns, similar things will happen. It is not going to happen on Mount Sinai but on the Mount of Olives. It will be more serious. According to the book of Zachariah, the whole of Mount Olives will split into 2.

Galatians 4:24-26 - “These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother.”

You might not be able to capture the whole gist of the verse. On Mount Sinai, God gave the ten commandments to Moses. If we read the 10 commandments carefully, many of the commandments tell you to not do this and that. These commandments are considered passive to us. There are many things we cannot do but there are 2 commandments that tell us to honour our parents and the Sabbath. They seem like a chain and that we are enslaved to them. The law seems to bind us together. More than 95% of Jews still believe in the law of Moses in Jerusalem today. Similarly, the children of Jerusalem are still living in slavery. Why is Sarah known as a free woman? We know that our God is love. Now our Lord Jesus is in heaven. He is the High Priest in heaven. Everyday, He is interceding for us. Because of His great love for us, and His precious blood, we are set free that the love and grace of Jesus. By our faith in Him, they are able to get rid of slavery. If we keep His commandments, we are truly His disciples and we will know the truth which will set us free. Jesus himself is the truth. Now our hope is in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:18-24 - “You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.” No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.”

This is a beautiful promise for us. In LFC, everyone likes to go to the unity corner. But there is another place that is even more sacred. We have Mount Zion. This is our hope that one day we hope to go to Mount Zion in heaven so that we can see our eternal God face to face. This is our hope. Let us encourage each other with love and edify one another. As a first born in the Old Testament, he is regarded highly. As the first born, as long as he didn’t commit any offence, he will receive all the inheritance. Jesus is doing a great work for us in heaven. He sacrificed His life and His precious blood has washed our sins clean.

Main points:

1. When are we able to go to Mount Zion in heaven? During rapture? After we die?

Hebrews 10:19-20 - “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.”

Paul and John have repeated this. They told us that we have to go through the Holy Spirit and the Cross. Everyday, we have to live in our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. How are we able to go to Mount Zion in heaven?

Psalm 15 and 24

Matthew 5:8 “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.”

Hebrews 4:16 - “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

It says that it is our help in time of need. When we are in need, we can come before His throne of grace. Where is His throne of grace? It is in Mount Zion in heaven, in the heavenly Jerusalem. If we come before him with a pure heart, we can in Spirit, see His glory. It is not by our might but when we can truly be pure, our Spirit can be in one with Jesus, which is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Micah 6:8 - “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

God is in heaven. Jesus is also in heaven. If we can do the righteousness of God, by the love of God, we can have a merciful heart to others. We have to humble ourselves all the time. When we can obey God's will, the promise of God is that we can walk together with Him.

3. Who are those in the assembly of God’s first born children?

Hebrews 1:6 - “And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, “Let all of God’s angels worship him.””

1 Corinthians 15:22-33 - “Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again? And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus —if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.””

1 Corinthians 15:49 - “Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.”

Jesus Himself is the first born of all men. Apostles like Paul who are faithful and who love God, and the 114000 Israelite saints, are first fruits chosen by Jesus. They are the first born in a spiritual sense. Being spiritually mature, they are able to bear the first good fruits of the Spirit.

Romans 8:23 - “And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”

Revelation 14:1-5 - “Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together. This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb. They have told no lies; they are without blame.”

If we can be humble like the Thessalonian believers, to be faithful in work, to labour in loving deeds, and have enduring hope because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:3-4 - “As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.”

God promises us that we can be blessed to become the first fruits that are chosen by Him.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 - “As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.”

This is a very wonderful promise for Christians. All of us have the opportunity to be the first fruits. As long as we can depend on the love of God and according to the will of God, that we are able to preach the word and do the work for Jesus, we can become the first fruit. When the saints are resurrected and raptured, all of us have the opportunity to be raptured into the heavens. We can truly come to Mount Zion and meet face to face with our God.

If you want to find out more about the first fruits, please read Leviticus 23:9-14.

Leviticus 23:9-14 - “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest. On the day after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the Lord so it may be accepted on your behalf. On that same day you must sacrifice a one-year-old male lamb with no defects as a burnt offering to the Lord. With it you must present a grain offering consisting of four quarts of choice flour moistened with olive oil. It will be a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord. You must also offer one quart of wine as a liquid offering. Do not eat any bread or roasted grain or fresh kernels on that day until you bring this offering to your God. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.”


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