And so, the Israelites left Mount Sinai: "On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the covenant law. Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. They set out, this first time, at the Lord’s command through Moses." (vs 11-13)
They had been out of Egypt for an entire year, most of it spent in the Desert of Sinai at the mountain. It took all that time for God to organize them, settle them down, and supervise their building of the sanctuary and ordination of the priests. Once that was done, it was time to move.
I think there is a very important lesson about God in this for us. For our relationship with Him in the journey of our life, God only requires a little. The bare minimum. Just the basics. Sure, it took Him an entire year to try to get the Israelites grounded in just the basics, but that’s all it took to be ready for the journey.
And what were those basics? I think it boiled down to two things:
1. Approach God with respect. (In other words, take Him seriously.)
2. Approach God with everything. (In other words, bring to Him both your faith and sin — especially the sin.)
Those two things are the simple foundation upon which God establishes a relationship with us that can last for eternity. If we treat Him with respect by taking Him seriously, and, thus, if we are willing to bring our whole selves to Him, knowing we can trust Him to deal fairly and honestly with us, there are no barriers to a saving relationship with Him. Anybody who does these two things are saved. Anybody who does these two things are ready for a journey with God. Period.
Notice especially the part about the sin. We aren’t the ones who deal with sin in our lives! All we are asked to do — as were the Israelites — is to bring it to God. He deals with it! He deals with it! When we try to control the sin in our lives, when we try to "clean ourselves up" before coming to God, what we are doing (in effect) is keeping Him away from that part of our hearts. He doesn’t want us to keep it away. He wants us to bring it to Him — in all its ugliness. That’s the message of the sanctuary.
Just because these are two, simple things doesn’t mean they are necessarily simple to do. Remember, it took God an entire year to get the Israelites immersed in the basics. But that’s all God wants. That’s all God needs. He’s eager to get started on the journey. He’s eager to have your attention, so that when He starts moving in your life, you’ll want to go with Him.
And it only takes a little to be at that point. God doesn’t require us to jump through endless (or unnecessary) hoops in order to get a ticket to go. All He requires are the basics: Take Me seriously and share every part of you with Me. I take you seriously, and I’m going to share every part of Me with you. C’mon, what are you waiting for? Let’s take this journey together!