This passage is all about worship. This should interest us, as worshipping G-d is our main priority in life – to worship Him in an acceptable and pleasing way.
v18: “All the people” – those who had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and who had come out of bondage with a call to meet (and worship) the L-rd in the wilderness.
· Trembled– the implication of this word is that they were moving backwards and forwards in confusion. They didn’t know how to respond to this experience.
· Stood afar off: This phrase is going to be repeated, therefore emphasised.
v19: The things that they saw and heard represented the Presence of G-d. He (the Holy G-d) was moving toward them (an unholy people). They were afraid and didn’t want Him to come any closer. They were fearful that the holiness of G-d, in their impure state, would bring about their death. [This experience followed the giving of the 10 commandments. G-d revealed what His expectation of them was and they realised that they were far removed from His will]
v20: Moses knew (by revelation, prophetically) what G-d was up to. G-d wanted to bring about a miraculous transformation to these people.
· This was an opportunity for the people – G-d’s fear (synonymous with wisdom- Proverbs 9:10) would be with them. This would lead to an understanding of the will of G-d – therefore, lead them to stop sinning.
· When we (truly) fear G-d it is impossible to sin.
v21: They stood afar off – they rejected what G-d wanted to bring about in their lives. They didn’t want to go any nearer to Him. Through proper worship they were going to be transformed (at Mt Sinai), but instead they rebelled and stood at a distance, not wanting to get involved. Only Moses went forward to meet G-d. Here we have a great failure, an opportunity lost.
v22: G-d wanted the people to have the same experience as Moses – to be transformed by the presence of G-d and to receive His personal revelation to them.
When the Blessed Hope (rapture) happens, we’re going to have a similar experience to what G-d was offering these people at this time. When we are born again the Holy Spirit lives within us, and changes us. But the full outcome of this transformation, that G-d wants us to have, will not be known until we enter into a new condition – that new Kingdom body (alive, but transformed in the twinkling of an eye -never wanting to sin again).
v23: G-d begins to lay out for the people a different type of worship experience to what was offered above – why? Because they rejected Him. Their worship was now going to be based on altars and sacrifices. The Israelites suffered a loss that day – they had to now settle for a lesser worship experience.
· All other forms of worship (things that were revered or honoured) needed to be set aside and destroyed. Idolatry is forbidden.
v24: The altar that G-d required was not one that was similar to how the nations built their altars. No other nation had an altar of dirt. Our worship must in no way resemble the way that the unG-dly nations worship. When we worship in the way that G-d requires (based upon His instructions), His name (character) will be a blessing to us.
· G-d’s going to now take these people on a journey – He’s going to cause His name to dwell in many different places, until He gets to Jerusalem – the final place where His name will dwell. G-d’s purpose throughout this journey was to bless His people.
v25: G-d gives very clear instructions. If stones were used they had to be uncut. Improper worship brings about that which is profane. Doing profane things (the Sabbath and the name of G-d are the two main things profaned Biblically) hinders the blessing of G-d.
v26: The altar is a place of worship and sacrifice. The two go hand in hand. G-d is, here, warning people about their appearance before Him – they were not to reveal any nakedness, or expose themselves in a way which G-d sees as inappropriate (modesty is a foundational principle -we do not worship according to the ways of the world, but we worship with respect, reverence, and honour to G-d). When it comes to worship it does not matter what we think. Worship is not based upon the imaginations of our own thoughts or on what we believe to be right. Worship is the outcome of listening to G-d’s revelation and instructions.
When we read the Bible, our principal thought should not be: “What does this mean to me?” Our primary thought should be: “What is G-d conveying to the original audience, and how do I then apply that appropriately to my life?” We must never be casual about the things of G-d.