The book of Exodus, as the name implies, is about a great journey the children of Israel took to get from Egypt to the Promised Land. But it’s so much more than that. It’s more about relationship, the relationship between a holy, loving Father and His people, whom he just redeemed from slavery. They have a slavery mindset and they know little to nothing about holiness. So, the Father takes time to teach them, to show them what reverence for him looks like. You do this, I do that. We walk together. I protect you. I love you. This is the correct response to my holiness. We’ll have great festivals to celebrate all I’m going to do for you. These times together will remind you to acknowledge all that you have, all that you are, it’s because of my love for you. Never come before me without a gift. Wait. What? Yes.

“No one may appear before me without an offering” Exodus 34:20.

No matter how many translations I read or how many commentaries I reference, it stays the same.

“No one is to appear before me empty-handed.”

“No one may come into my presence without an offering.”

Perhaps you’re wondering whether or not the cross of Jesus relieves us of this instruction. Not from what I can find. That’s why I read so many translations, commentaries, and the original Hebrew. It wasn’t about a sacrifice for our sins. It was about being ever thankful and mindful of His Holiness and provision for us. That hasn’t changed.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of so many times when I stood before Him empty-handed. Yes, I bring my sacrifice of praise, but that costs me nothing. If all that I have is His, how can I not offer back to him a portion, in true thankfulness? Just as God patiently taught the children of Israel, could standing before him empty-handed show my lack of wonder at His Holiness?

If I have no sense of His Holiness, perhaps it’s because I’ve failed to acknowledge it each time I come into His Presence.

“None shall appear before Me empty-handed.”