Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met? I was talking to Barbara Riddle the other day, after Billy Graham had passed away, and she was telling me that some years ago Ruth Graham was at the same hospital as one of her family members, and Barbara got to go down the hallway and meet Billy Graham!
It’s a memorable thing to get to meet someone like that. I read a survey they did some time ago, in which they asked, if you could meet any one person from all of history, and have lunch with them, who would it be? And interestingly enough, the #1 answer was Jesus Christ! People want to meet the Lord. And the thing is, that is exactly what the Lord wants for us, too — and He has provided a means for us to be able to meet with Him.
I hope that you aren’t getting complacent in your daily Bible readings — that’s easy to do as we come to places like Exodus, with all the descriptions of the sacrifices, and the measurements of the tables, and the amount of the grain offerings, and all those details, but if don’t pay careful attention, you’ll MISS some real treasures that God has for you there.
That was certainly the case this week, reading in Exodus 29 about the ordination of the priests of Israel. There were all these details, but then the end of chapter 29, in :43 God says: “At the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there.” That little sentence tells us some important things about what the PURPOSE of all these things we have been reading about, really is:
I. The Goal Is Meeting With God
First of all, we see that the GOAL of all of these activities in Exodus, was MEETING GOD. The tents, and the animals, and the sacrifices — all this stuff — were not ends in themselves; all this just cleared the way for God’s people to meet back with Him. Notice:
— :42 calls the tabernacle: “the tent of meeting.” It was called “the tent of meeting” because God’s people could MEET with Him there. That was the purpose for all this: to meet with God.
— and it says in :42 that the tent of meeting is “before the LORD;” so it is the presence of the Lord that is what is important there.
— At the end of :42 He specifically spells that out; He says: “Where I will MEET with you.”
— We see this again in 30:6, “where I will meet with you” — again the purpose is to meet God.
He says, all these commands about the tabernacle, and the sacrifices, and all of these commandments, is to allow you to MEET with Me.
See, the basic need of mankind is to meet with God. This is what we were created for, to meet with Him, and walk in fellowship with Him, like Adam & Eve did at first, in the cool of the day. But as we read in January, their sin caused them to be cast away from from the presence of God, and they could meet with Him no longer.
That is what sin does: it separates us from God, just as Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.” So because of our sin, mankind has struggled, being separated from the God we were made to meet and know and love. In our readings here in the Old Testament, we see God calling this special people, Israel, to Himself. He called them out of Egypt to meet Him in the wilderness and worship Him. And now here later in Exodus, He is giving them instructions on how they can meet Him: by having this “tent of meeting” where they could come, and by making sacrifices of these animals to atone for their sin so they can draw near, and so on. But the purpose of all this wasn’t just to “establish a religion;” it is so that they might MEET WITH HIM. That is what it is all about.
And that is STILL what it is all about today. See, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:4 that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Those sacrifices coulddn’t forgive us and change us. But they pointed forward to the “once and for all” sacrifice of Jesus. Hebrews 10 goes on to say in :10, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So the blood of all those bulls which were sacrificed for the people’s sins, were just a picture to get us to understand what it meant that Jesus would die on the cross to pay for our sins.
But the whole point of what Jesus did was the same what we see here in Exodus 29: it was to allow us to meet with God. He died so that our sins might be forgiven by His blood, so that when we believe in Him, the Holy Spirit would come into our life as Ephesians 1:13 says, and we could know God and fellowship with Him, and walk with Him daily as He speaks to us in His word, and we speak to Him in prayer. And then one day when our body dies, we will go right into the presence of God in heaven and MEET WITH HIM forever.
But THAT is what it is all about: meeting with God. If we don’t understand that, then we’re missing what it is really all about.
Many of you know that 2 weeks ago I left this worship service and drove 600 miles to Universal Studios in Florida. It was my mom’s 80th birthday, and it was her wish to spend a couple of days there with her kids for her birthday. So that’s what we did. My two sisters flew in from Oklahoma and Philadelphia, and I drove down Sunday and drove back Wednesday, and we spent two great days with Mom, and it was good. At one point I was looking at the Universal Studios app on my phone, to see where we might go next, and I said, “Mom, what do you want to do next?” And she said, “I don’t care; we are all together and I am happy.” I thought: that’s “mission accomplished!” That’s what we went there for, for us to meet together with Mom and for her to have a good time that we could always look back on.
But WHAT IF I had driven down there, and thought, “You know, Mom wants us all to eat breakfast with her at the hotel at 9:00, but if we do that we’ll be late to the park! I’m going to head over there early and get on the rides early and beat the crowds.” And what if I went over, and was one of the first ones into the park, and ran and got on “Escape From Gringotts” while the line was short, and rode 20 rides that day, and beat the crowds, and ate all my favorite foods … I could have done a lot of things, but I would have missed the real point, wouldn’t I? The point was not for me to go to the park and ride on rides — I’m not actually that big of a fan of amusement parks — the point was to go and be with Mom. That is what it was all about. If I missed that, I would have missed the whole purpose of the trip!
And that is exactly what happens with a lot of people’s lives. They say, “I’ve got this job” or “I got that house and this car”, or “I went to this or that entertainment show” or whatever — but they’re missing what we are really here on earth for: we are here to meet God and know Him. And if you’re missing that, then you’re missing what you were really here for.
This is just where a lot of people “miss it” in regards to Christianity. The whole point of what we are about in Biblical Christianity is meeting God.
— Christianity is not just about “going to church.”
— Christianity is not about “being good.”
— It is not even about “reading your Bible”
— It is not about “doing good deeds” or “helping the poor.”
— And it is not even just about “going to heaven”
All of these things are good, and should have a place in our lives. But none of these things is really what Christianity is all about. At heart, Christianity is all about MEETING GOD, and if you have missed that, you have missed its real purpose.
We’ve got to understand this:
— the goal of our religion is meeting God
— the goal of our salvation is meeting God
— the goal of coming to church is meeting God
— the goal of praying and reading our Bibles each day is meeting God
— our ultimate goal in heaven is not just going to that “place;” it is meeting God there!
Everything in Christianity is all about meeting God. If you don’t understand that, then you’re missing what it is all about. It is all about meeting God.
II. The Revelation in Meeting With God
Look at :42, God says “where I will meet with you, to speak to you there.” We’ve seen that our main purpose is meeting with God. But when we do meet with Him, God says He will also SPEAK to us: “I will … speak to you there.”
— We saw this is what God did with Moses: He met him in the burning bush; but He also SPOKE to him there, and told him that He wanted him to lead His people out of Egypt.
— That’s what He did when He met with Israel in the wilderness. He SPOKE to them: He gave them the 10 Commandments, and now in our readings He is in the process of giving them the Law. God is speaking to His people as He is meeting with them.
— When Jesus came to earth, He not only met with us, but He also SPOKE to us: Hebrews 1:1 says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” God Himself met with us in the Person of Jesus Christ, and He SPOKE to us, and taught us how to live, and about heaven and hell, and how to treat other people, and how we need to be born again to see heaven.
When we meet with God, He speaks to us. When you first met God, He spoke to you: maybe it was through a pastor’s sermon, or in a revival, or through a personal evangelist who shared God’s word with you. Or maybe God’s Spirit spoke to you as you just read the Bible for yourself, and you were saved through His word. But however He did it, God spoke to you about how you had sinned, and separated yourself from Him, but He showed you that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, and rose again to save you if you would repent of your sins and call upon Him. Somehow God met you and spoke to you, and you were saved. (If that hasn’t yet happened to you, then maybe He is speaking to you right now about being saved! If so, right now, respond to Him: ask Him to save you and forgive you and come into your life.) But when you first meet God, He speaks to you.
But we also need to see that God doesn’t just speak to us at first, when we get saved. As we saw, He made us to continue meeting with Him, and as we continue meeting with Him, He will continue to speak to us. That is to be a normal part of the Christian life.
It made national news a couple of weeks ago when Joy Behar of ABC’s talk show “The View” made fun of Vice President Mike Pence, because he said he has conversations with the Lord. She said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness.” She later called and apologized to the Vice President, and since to all Christians, which I appreciate. Because this isn’t “mental illness;” this is part of our faith: this is what Christians do. We meet with God, and He speaks to us.
This is what we are doing every day as we read our Bibles. I hope you understand that we aren’t reading our Bibles every day just to check this off our “religious to-do list;” we read our Bibles every day to HEAR FROM GOD. Don’t miss that! Listen for what God wants to say you in His word as you read it. He will speak to you. But you’ve got to be listening for it. It’s probably not going to be an audible voice; but as you come to His word each day, listen by faith for the Spirit of God to speak to you in your heart through His word. When you’re reading the Bible and you feel like that verse is talking about your sin, or telling you to pray for somebody or go do something for someone — that is God’s Spirit speaking to you through His word!
So get yourself ready to hear from God each day when you read His word. Before you start, pray the prayer that old Eli taught Samuel in I Samuel 3:9, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” That would be a great prayer for you to pray each morning as you get ready to read the word of God: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Praying that will help you to remember that you aren’t “just reading” this book; but that God wants to tell you something, and you need to be listening for it!
So check yourself on this: when you finish your Bible reading, don’t just put your Bible up immediately — before you do, ask yourself: “What did God just show me? What has He said?”
— Did He speak to you about a sin or an attitude?
— Did He show you somebody or something to pray for?
— Did He show you something you need to DO? (Just like Moses and the disciples, God often speaks to us about the MISSION or ministry that He is calling us to).
I think this is one good reason to take NOTES as you read the Bible: so you can write down what God is speaking to you about, and you can go back and read it, and pray about it, and make sure that you are following through with it. But make sure to listen, and respond to God as He speaks to you daily as you read His word. He will speak to you as you meet with Him daily.
The same thing is true as you come to Sunday School, or discipleship classes, or to our worship services. Take notes about what He’s telling you in His word. We’re coming to meet God — and when we do, God has something to say to you. There is revelation when we meet with God.
III. The Consecration of Meeting With God
We see here that when we meet with God, not only does He speak to us, but significantly, He also CONSECRATES us. Now that word “consecrate” may not be familiar for many of us (unless we’re used to singing old church hymns!) But the word “consecrate” means “to make holy.”
When you meet with God, you get “consecrated;” you get made holy. If you notice in our passage for today, everything that was in God’s presence was made holy by that contact with Him:
— God said in :43 “I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be CONSECRATED by My glory.”
— In :44 God said, “I will CONSECRATE the tent of meeting and the altar”
— Then He said later in that verse: “I will also CONSECRATE Aaron and his sons to minister as priests to Me.”
Everything that was in the presence of God where He met them there, was “consecrated”, or made holy.
Which tells US something. If we are really meeting God in worship, then WE are going to be made holy as well. You cannot meet with God, and not be made holy by His glorious presence!
That is why holiness is one of the surest tests of a person’s salvation, or of their daily walk with God. If you know God, then you will be holy. If you are meeting with God every day, then you are being made holy by that time you are spending with Him.
The book of I John talks about this; it gives us several tests about whether we have really met the Lord or not:
— It says in 1:5-6 “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
— He says in 2:3, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ but does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
And on and on through that book. John is basically saying the same thing that Exodus 29 says here: when you meet God, you will be consecrated; you will be made holy. If you are not at least in the process of becoming holy, there you can’t have any real confidence that you have really met with God.
I remember years ago hearing pastor John MacArthur share about a person who claimed they had had an encounter with God. They said they were sitting there, watching television (“Laverne & Shirley”), when the Lord supposedly suddenly appeared and spoke to them. But when they were asked “Well, what did you do after He appeared to you?,” they said, “Well, I went back to watching ‘Laverne & Shirley.’” NO! I think we can have great confidence that they did not meet God that day! You don’t meet with Holy God and then just go back to watching “Laverne & Shirley”!
And thats true for all of us. When you meet God, you are changed:
— You don’t meet God and continue living in an adulterous relationship
— You don’t meet God and continue practicing homosexuality or immorality
— You don’t meet God and keep cheating people in your business
— You don’t meet God and keep checking out pornographic websites
— You don’t meet God and continue with your same old filthy language
— You don’t meet God and find His mercy and forgiveness — and then turn around and not forgive somebody who has sinned against you!
You don’t do that when you’ve met God. When you have met God, your life has been touched; when you have met God, your life has been changed; when you have met God you are “consecrated” by that meeting with Him; when you meet God you are HOLY. And if you are not holy after you say have met with Him, then the bottom line is, you did not meet Him!
You may say: but I went to church, or I had this great “experience,” or whatever — listen:
— You can “go to church” and not be holy — a lot of people do that; but you can’t really meet God and not be holy.
— You can have an “emotional experience” and not become holy, but you can’t really meet God and not be holy.
— You can check “read my Bible daily” off your list and not be holy, but you can’t really meet with God in the morning and not become more holy.
This is an acid test: this is what separates merely “religious” people, from people who are really meeting GOD: when you meet God, you WILL become more holy. If you are not becoming more holy, then you did not meet God!
This is a good way to evaluate your salvation, as well as your daily walk with the Lord:
— How do you know if you’ve really been saved? Some people say, “Well you’ve gotta know the date and time of your salvation.” Listen: there are a lot of people who can quote some date and time who are not really saved. The best way to determine your salvation isn’t that you can quote an “hour and a day” for some profession of faith that supposedly happened some years ago; the best test of your salvation is if you are living a holy life RIGHT NOW! If you aren’t living a holy life right now, you can have NO confidence in your salvation, no matter how certain you are about a day or a time you walked down an aisle. If you really met God your life will be holy.
— As a Christian, how do you determine if you’ve really met with God in the morning in your devotional time? It’s the same thing: if you weren’t just “saying some prayers” or “reading some verses”, but really meeting God in that time, then you were confronted with His holiness, and you were convicted of sin in your life, and you confessed it to Him, and you repented of it, and His Spirit is helping you to turn away from that sin now. But if your sin was not even brought up in your quiet time, you may have had a nice “religious time” but you didn’t meet God. Because when we meet God, we get convicted consecrated from our sin! Whenever there is a real meeting with God, there will always be a real consecration from sin.
Have you ever met the Lord? So many people here in “the Bible belt” answer glibly: “Oh yeah, I’ve met the Lord.” But have you really?
You know, if someone in Jesus’ day had met the Lord, you could tell it, couldn’t you? Blind men met the Lord and they were healed. Lame men met the Lord and now they could walk. Guilt-ridden people met the Lord but now their souls were free! If some person in Jesus’ day came up and they said they’d met Him, but they were still lame or blind or guilty, people would have said, “You didn’t meet Jesus; those who met Him were changed!”
And that same principle is true today too. A lot of people say they’ve met Jesus; but to really meet Jesus is to be changed. He’ll speak to you; He’ll make you holy; He will change your life. Have you met Jesus? If you have, it’s the most important thing in your life, and it has changed you and is continuing to change you. And if you haven’t met Him, then you’re missing the most important thing that God put you on this earth for!