There’s a passage I wish I would have read earlier this morning. According to my reading calendar I should have read it last night; but if I had, it’s questionable whether my heart would have been in a place to receive such a pertinent application.
The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” Exodus 34:1-3 (ESV)
It’s been a pretty emo weekend for me. So much so that a good buddy called me a girl. A few months ago, Pastor Sam taught out of Philippians 3, and he spoke on not letting the past hinder you. I’ve been having a hard time making that a reality in my life. But I think Exodus 34 paints a picture of moving on that we can apply to ourselves spiritually. It’s been a whole two chapters since the Golden Calf incident in chapter 32, and the Lord had already given the order to move on in Exodus 33:1.
We start chapter 34 with a blank slate. Two fresh tablets; and God, in his everlasting, ever patient grace, is going to write his law all over again (on our hearts–Jer 31:33). Even though we broke it, he’s going to make it right for us. Often in our lives we experience the ungrace of “you broke it; you fix it,” but when it comes to issues of the soul, only God can fix what we break.
The second point I got was the timliness and immediacy of it. Once God decides it’s time for restoration, our response is to be immediate. “Be ready by the morning.” The time for restoration has come. The Father knows there’s some stuff we have to take care of (packing our bags, as it were), but we only have a few hours. In the morning it will be time to get a move on!
“Present yourself… No one shall come up with you.” It’s between you and God. When God calls me to move on, I can’t sit there and say, “But so-and-so did this, and so-and-so did that.” This one-on-one approach to the Lord means I have to let go of the bitterness towards those who hurt me, as well as my guilt and shame in hurting other people. And it also means I have to grasp the fact my relationship with God is really my own, and I cannot have a vicarious spirituality through other people.
“Let no one be seen.” The Lord’s will is that we be cleansed of our soul ties. Can you really go up on the mountain, enter the Lord’s presence, and not have thoughts of any other people enter your mind as soon as you close your eyes to pray or to worship? This is a command of the Lord, something he tells US to take care of when we climb. It’s our responsibility to remove all other persons from view.
Finally, God requires us to be rid of our personal entourage. “Let no flocks or herds…” When it comes to our relationship with God, we have to “undress ourselves” (as Chambers says) of all that we have. Whether it be academic or occupational or musical or social skills or anything else that we see ourselves as bringing to the table. In the economy of grace, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we bring to the table. Our own righteousness is as filthy rags!
Before Israel left Egypt, Moses had suggested that Pharaoh let them make a short spiritual pilgrimage to offer sacrifices in the desert. Pharaoh wanted them to leave their flocks and herds behind, but they needed to bring them in order to sacrifice. But at this point in Exodus 34, they had already left Egypt. Egypt is a type of the world. Once you leave, there is no going back. God has removed us from the world and our sins have been atoned for, and we have consecrated ourselves and made a commitment. We’ve already stumbled and experienced the consequences, so we’re aware that we can’t do it on our own. But Jesus’ shed blood on the cross is a once-for-all atonement, covering all our failures, past present, and future. When God offers us a clean slate and calls us to restoration, there are no more flocks or herds… There are no more sacrifices to be made. It’s just me and Him, one on one, and I know that it’s all Him. He’s the one upholding the covenant for the both of us.
Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” Exodus 34:10 (ESV)