The Old Testament regales the formation and the journey of the nation of Israel. The Israelites were up and down. Committed, not committed. Worshipping God, worshipping idols. Patient, impatient. Sounds about like us, doesn’t it?
After the LORD admonished Israel for worshipping a golden calf graven by Aaron, He called them a stiff-necked people and told Moses He would not go up with them on their journey because He would consume them along the way (Ex 33).
Moses pleads with God, interceding for the people.
God reiterates His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and renews His covenant with His people. He instructs them to redeem all the first-born males from cows and sheep to first-born sons with a lamb (Ex 34: 18-20).
Then God told Moses in His instructions for the people, “none shall appear before me empty-handed.” Ex. 34:20
That simple phrase really struck me because that is the opposite of what we tell people now, “to come to the LORD you must come empty-handed.” What we mean by that is that NOTHING we bring can gain us favor, forgiveness or salvation. Not our generous church support, not our ministry service, not our missions trips, not all our hard works, not a goat, not a lamb, not a pigeon. NOTHING we bring gains us an audience. When the Spirit of God tugs on your heart, come with empty hands, outstretched ready to embrace Him on the merits of Christ not on our own.
Too often people want to “clean up their act” before coming to God as if they could possibly clean it up enough to deserve approaching Him. We can never clean up our act enough to pay for our sins and appease His wrath.
Let me go back to a previous statement I made: “Nothing we bring can gain us favor, forgiveness or salvation…not a lamb….” That is not entirely true. Our only hope for salvation actually rests on Jesus Christ, THE Lamb of God Who was sacrificed to redeem His children. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth…“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (John 1:29; Rev 5:6; Rev 5:12)
So we come empty-handed and trust in HIS merit alone.
Diane Hunt serves part time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a Biblical Counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.