READING: Exodus 29-30, Matthew 21:23-45
“I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.”
I remember the first times I preached as a pastor more than 35 years ago. I studied hard, and I think I prayed hard. I know I shook hard, for I had no idea what I was doing. After all, I was a 20-year-old college student unexpectedly in charge of shepherding a small group of people in a southwestern Ohio city. My nerves made my heart pound, and I’m sure my clenched hands on the pulpit showed my anxiety. Looking back, I wonder how it all happened!
I knew then that I was tackling something exciting as I began ministry, but I knew far too little about the necessity of my being holy as I led the people of God. I assumed that as long as I was trying my best not to live in blatant sin, I would be okay. Frankly, I hadn’t thought enough about the need for spiritual preparation in following my calling. That’s why texts like this one in today’s reading about the priests in the Old Testament grab me: “This is what you are to do for them to consecrate them to serve Me as priests” (Exo. 29:1). While the processes and approaches for consecrating/ordaining the priests were unique to that time, nevertheless obvious are the holiness and the seriousness associated with leading the people of God in worship. To lead the people of God was to be set apart for that purpose.
That truth was even more important because the God of the Hebrews was not like the idols of the pagans. He was not a “god” who could be carried in a hand, an object with eyes, ears, and a mouth who could not see, hear, or speak. No, the God of the Hebrews was (and is) the only living God, the Almighty One who would also live among His people: “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God” (Exo. 29:45). He who reigned in the heavens would also tabernacle with His own. In fact, that was one reason He delivered them from Egypt. All must be set apart for that purpose.
This coming Sunday, I will preach the Word. That means I’ll stand before the people of God, represent Him, and teach His truths. I pray that my heart will pound again, and my hands will again cling to the pulpit that day – but not because I’m nervous and inexperienced. I pray it will be because of the seriousness of being a minister of the gospel.
God, make me holy.
- Pray for your pastors as they prepare to lead your church this weekend. If you’re a pastor, get others to pray for you.
- Ask God to reveal your sin to you and bring you to repentance as you prepare for worship this week.
PRAYER: “God, thank You for dwelling among us when we are so unworthy.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Exodus 31-33, Matthew 22:1-22