Two children are called by their mother. One, sprung up to her immediately. He always expressed how grateful he was for his mother. With a smile in his face, he says, "Yes Mom." The other she had to call several times, angering his mother. When he finally heard the anger in his Mom's voice he yelled back nastily, "What?" The Mom then said, "I want to see you." To which the child relied, angrily, "Then you come to me." He always complained about his mother. After, a few more exchanges, the child decided to storm in the room huffing and puffing, looked at his Mom defiantly, and told her sternly, "what do you want?" Which of the two pleased the Mom? Which of the two would please you more? Which of the two would please God more?
In the book of Exodus God first addressed the people through Moses. But, God had plans for them. He told Moses to tell the people in Exodus 19: 3-6
Exodus 19:3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
Exodus 19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Moses followed God's instruction, told the people and they replied,
Exodus 19:7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.
Exodus 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
The people made a promise to God they could not, and would not fulfill. It proved to be a half hearted answer. God wanted to be closer to them, but they refused God's closeness. In Exodus 20: 18 – 21, after Moses gave them the Ten Commandments, it says that,
Exodus 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
Exodus 20:19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
Exodus 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
Exodus 20:21 And the people stood afar off,
Their fear showed a lack of Faith, which displeased God (Hebrews 11:6). Had He not shown Himself to them to be loving, merciful, and trustworthy? So, again they refused to be close to God. This distance they set for themselves between God and them, precluded God from making them a kingdom of priests. God could not purify them to be priests unless they got closer. To allow God to purify us we need to get closer to Him. Yes, we will recognize that we are sinners as we get closer. Only then can the Lord purify us for His service. Consider Isaiah when taken in vision to God's dwelling place,
Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah 6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
Isaiah 6:7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Eventually, only those who came closer to God were cleansed for the service of Priesthood and Tabernacle service: Aaron, his sons, and the rest of the Levites. We know the story. After promising God they would do all everything God said, they forgot about His great work with them. They murmured against God and Moses – showing their ungratefulness. So they decided to worship another god. Aaron fashioned to them an idol after the fashion of what they left behind in Egypt. When Moses caught the children of Israel worshiping a golden calf, after they said they would do what God told them but did not, Moses addresses them and asked, "…Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him" (Exodus 32:26). Thus the Levites were chosen to be God's group the people serving the tabernacle (Numbers 3:41). This was a privilege that all children of Israel could have had. So, we read in Numbers 8: 16 – 26, how God asked Moses to dedicate the Levites for their service to Him. As the lesson points out, they were a wave offering to the Lord, themselves (Numbers 8:13). As if they represented the first fruit of the grain harvest.
What is our attitude toward God? Will we be like the Levites or the other children of Israel? Will we let our fear, which casts away the love of God and causes unbelief, to keep us away from God, thus prohibiting Him from purifying us?