Why is it essential to study the example of the children of Israel preparing themselves to come into the presence of YHVH in Exodus 19? After all, if Yeshua did it all for us, we can just come boldly before the Father’s throne anytime, anyway we want, right (Heb 4:16)?
Let’s explore this concept a little to see what the Bible has to say about it.
Paul says in I Corinthians 10:11,
Now all these things happened to them [i.e., the children of Israel] as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (See also Rom 15:4.)
The writer of Hebrews has something similar to say in his prefatory remarks to his statement in Hebrews 4:16 about coming boldly before the throne of YHVH through the merits of the sinless righteousness of Yeshua our High Priest. In the preceding several verses, the author draws upon the example of the children of Israel (Heb 4:1–10) as an example for us not to follow. They were a faithless and disobedient lot (they rebelled against the Torah-word of Elohim)!
Then in Hebrew 4:11, the author starts with the connecting word “therefore,” indicating that what follows is related to that which preceded it. He goes on to admonish us not to follow the Israeites’ example of disobedience (i.e., Torahlessness or lack of faith in and obedience to the word of Elohim).
Next, the author likens the word of Elohim to a sharp two-edged sword that has the ability to separate between those who come to YHVH with wrong (carnal) heart motives versus those who have right ones, for nothing is hidden from the Almighty, so religious pretense and sham need not apply (Heb 4:12–13).
This reminds me of Yeshua’s harsh rebuke against the religious hypocrites of his day who thought that just because they were the sons of Abraham, they had a special “in” with Elohim. Quoting Isaiah, Yeshua called them on their sham religious expressions accusing them of drawing near with their mouths, but having hearts that were far from him (Matt 15:8–9 cp. Isa 29:13). In fact, Isaiah goes on in the same verse to deal with the issue of the improper fear of Elohim (Isa 29:13b). Yes, the fear of Elohim—a subject not taught much in the church these days (it’s not user-friendly)! Perhaps we need to have a little fear even when coming boldly before the throne of Elohim—after all, he is a consuming fire (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29), and he has the power to destroy both the body and the soul of man in the eternal judgment of Gehenna or the lake of fire (Matt 10:28 cp. Rev 20:15).
Now back to the Epistle to the Hebrews. In Hebrews 4:14, we see that redeemed believers are privileged with being able to come before the presence of the Creator of the Universe on the merits of the sinless righteousness of Yeshua. Halleluyah! But is that all there is to it?
Can we come before the throne of our Father in heaven through Yeshua impudently demanding this and that because “Yeshua did it all for me?” Hardly!
Those who are parents, ask yourself this. What will move your heart more, your child who comes to you respectfully honoring you, or a brat demanding his way who views you simply as the fulfiller of all of his wants and desires—as his personal sugar daddy? Yet, this, sadly, is how some believers, in effect, view their Father in heaven.
Yes, a redeemed believer has full access to the throne of heaven through Yeshua, but think of it this way. If the Queen of England or the President of the U.S. were to give you personal access to them and their residence anytime, what would be your demeanor and approach? Recognizing their great power and authority, would you not prepare yourself ahead of time by washing yourself and putting on nice clothes? Would you learn about protocol and endeavor to enter their presence with respect? How much more so the Creator of the universe?
Remember the believers in Laodicea (Rev 3:14–22)? They probably thought that they were pretty hot stuff because they had the righteousness of Yeshua resulting in the gift of unlimited access to the holy of holies throne room of Elohim through the rent through the veil of Yeshua’s flesh (Heb 10:20). Yet their heart attitude stank in the nostrils of the Almighty, and unless they repented of their sin, Yeshua threatened to vomit them out of his mouth!
I’m reminded of the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:1–2,
Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.
Now back to Hebrews 4. What does verse 16 say?
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
This little verse is packed full of truth. Yes we can come boldly before YHVH’s throne through Yeshua, but what should be our demeanor? Let’s answer this question with a question. Why does this verse say that we’re coming to YHVH’s throne? First, to obtain mercy? Why do we need mercy? Because we’re sinners deserving his judgment! Even though we have Yeshua batting for us, we must maintain a humble demeanor never forgetting what we’ve done against him and what we deserve because of it.
Second, why are we supposed to be coming to the throne of Elohim? Hebrews 4:16 says that we need YHVH’s grace in time of need. Why? We need his grace, so that he will not only cover over our sins with the blood of Yeshua, and we also need his grace to divinely enable us to go forward following Yeshua’s example of walking in sinless righteousness. What is sin? It’s the violation of YHVH’s Torah-word (1 John 3:4).
Yes, there are preparations that must be made and protocols to follow when coming into the presence of YHVH Elohim, even though we have an open invitation to do so at any time through the rent veil of Yeshua’s flesh.
It is against the larger backdrop of these biblical truths that we can learn much from the children of Israel as they prepared to come face to face with the Creator of the universe at the foot of Mount Sinai in Exodus 19.