Camping Out in Unexpected Places
Life Lesson: God invites us to prepare to experience Him in unexpected places.
I. The Encampment Before the Covenant (19:1-2)
1. God controls the times and the seasons (19:1).
2. The Israelites broke camp in one place to join God in another (19:1).
3. The Israelites planned to stay in a less-than desirable place (19:2).
This part of the journey would be the farthest point of their travel away from the Promised Land. In this place they most likely felt the most lost, the most desperate, the most frustrated, and the most disappointed since leaving Egypt. –Priscilla Shirer
Sinai – (Horeb – Ex. 3:1; Dt. 5:2; 7363 feet at highest point; plain at foot was 2.5 mi. x ½ mile wide. It would be the focal point for the next eleven months. It would witness the zenith of the entire book of Exodus. If Canaan represents a life of external blessings and abundance, Sinai represents a life of internal blessings and abundance.
So the timing of the Israelite’s arrival in Sinai was not accidental. Being in this place on this day was carefully calculated by God. This wasn’t their ultimate destination, and they knew it. This wasn’t what they had left Egypt to find, and yet under the covering of God’s guiding cloud, they chose to open the divine invitation. They decided to settle in, pitch their tent, camp out – questions and all – and turn their attention to God’s mountain. - Shirer
II. The Benefits of the Covenant (19:3-6)
1. God speaks to His people (19:3).
2. God teaches His people faith (19:4).
3. God expects his people to obey (19:5).
4. God values his people immensely (19:5-6).
III. The Preparations for the Covenant (19:7-25)
1. Observations about leaders who experience God.
a. The primary leader must involve others (19:7).
b. The secondary leaders must agree to follow God (19:8).
c. God confirms His shepherd to His people (19:9).
d. The leaders must carefully involve other people (19:24-25).
Three primary marks of a spiritual leader:
1) His life reflects a habit of prayer.
2) He regularly experiences God.
3) He speaks God’s Word to God’s people and others.
2. Observations about the congregation that experiences God.
a. The people must consecrate themselves in order to experience God (19:10-11).
b. The people must observe God’s boundaries in order to experience God (19:12-13 , 21-22).
c. The people must deny self in order to experience God (19:14-15).
d. The people must walk in holiness in order to experience God (19:23).
3. Observations about the God whom we experience (19:16-20).
a. God demands our attention (19:16,20).
b. God desires to meet and speak with us (19:17,19).
c. God deserves to be respected and feared (19:18).
d. God directs us from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion (He. 12:18-29).
Sinai teaches us about God’s immanence, His presence and sustaining involvement in our lives. And it teaches us about God’s transcendence, His otherness, being above and separate from us. In one chapter of the Bible, we see two very real, very important sides of the same God. He gives us close, intimate times to show us His immanence. Then, he takes us through the wilderness times to show us His transcendence. We learn there to trust Him in new ways. Keep these ongoing realities of God in a healthy balance.
Six observations from today’s text . . .
1.Get engaged in what God is doing right now – not just what you wish He were doing.
2.We should desire God more than his benefits.
3.Spiritual leaders must guide their people to hear from God, thus giving priority to the Word of God and prayer.
4Spiritual leadership is authenticated and validated by the Lord and His presence.
5.The fear of the Lord is essential to a congregation’s experiencing God.
6.Experiencing God requires careful preparation, holiness, and obedience.
Don’t waste what God is doing out here. Don’t leave your bags packed and keep working out of your travel kit. Don’t sleep with your clothes on. Nail your tent pegs deep. Press into Him. Engage fully in every season you spend at Sinai. And turn your eyes to the mountain.