After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”

We note again the reference to “the third day” (15; see also 16).

As we have observed before, it is the task of the preacher to meet with God and pass on His Word to His people – whether they like it or not; whether they understand it or not.

Preaching that comes from God will repeatedly expose idols and seek to dethrone them.

‘When did you last hear a good sermon about sex?’ That was George Verwer’s opening question when he preached at Bridge Street church in Leeds a number of years back. He made the point that the Bible has rather a lot to say on the subject.

It does, of course, but we don’t always want to hear it.

Sex is one of the great idols of our time. There seems to be a commonly held opinion that, for human flourishing, you must be able to have sex whenever you want, with whomever you want, at any time you want. People don’t want to hear calls for abstinence for any reason

Yet Moses’ message was from God.

However, we need to understand it in context. Moses was not suggesting that there is something unclean about our God-given sexuality. Alec Motyer explains this well:

“Marriage is God’s idea and not of human origin. It was instituted before the fall into sin and is not in any way a concession for sinfulness or as accommodation of sinful desires. It arose, in fact, from the divine perception that ‘it is not good for man to be alone’ (Gen.2:18). Marriage, therefore, is a prescription for holiness, for the perfecting of human life, with the married couple as ‘heirs together of the grace of life’ (1 Pet.3:7; AV,RV, cf.ESV). The prohibition of sexual relations did not arise, therefore, from any idea of the sinfulness of sex, but from the awareness that in a true and happy marriage, intercourse involves a total absorption of each with the other and is the deepest emotional delight and commitment known on earth. The restriction was put in place at this important moment in time because the Lord wished to have his people’s hearts wholly for himself. As Calvin says, ‘they were to be reminded that all earthly cares were, as much as possible, to be renounced…that they might give their entire attention to hearing of the law.’ “ ‘The message of Exodus’, pp.204,205.

The apostle Paul, you may remember, says something similar in 1 Corinthians 7:5.