Sin and Holiness


So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. Exodus 19:7-14 ESV

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Psalm 24:3-10 ESV


Has anyone in your family, or any of your friends, ever had surgery? Maybe you have. The operating room in a hospital is kept very safe and sterile. “Sterile” means that there are absolutely no germs. Everything is cleaned very carefully. The surgical instruments are put through some strict processes to make sure they are absolutely clean. The surgeon and the people who help all have to wash themselves very thoroughly, and then put on special clothes that are completely free of germs. The whole idea is to keep the person who is having surgery safe from a dangerous infection.

When God was about to come down to Mount Sinai to give his law, he needed to teach his people about his awesome holiness. The people of Israel were sinful, and they weren’t to come close to the mountain or even to touch it. As a picture of their need to be clean from sin, they washed their clothes before gathering around the mountain. God, in his holiness, cannot tolerate sin. It would have been very dangerous to approach God as a sinner. The penalty was death by stones or arrows.

We are sinful also, and on our own we have no more right to come close to God than the people of Israel did. We can’t make ourselves safe before God by taking a bath or washing our clothes, and we can’t possibly clean our hearts and lives of sin by being good. But there is one person, Jesus, who is completely holy. He died on the cross for us, and his blood washes away all our sins. He is our King of glory, able to approach his Father’s throne for us and bring us close to God, now and always.


Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to wash away our sins and bringing us close to our Heavenly Father. Amen.