The Glory of the Lord

Exodus 24:12-18

Moses was one-of-a-kind. Had experiences like no other man… burning bush, water from rock for example. Latest scene first in series that present Moses in crucial role as mediator of Old Covenant. Moses held comparable position between God and people as Lord Jesus does for us. Moses received word from God, took to people, heard their response, took to God. Moses heard complaints, took to God, brought back God’s response.

Considering how much of OT Moses wrote down, something very surprising… not what Moses recorded but what he left out. Wrote often of the glory of the Lord, but doesn’t say much to describe it. In last week’s text, recorded fact that ones who went up the mountain “saw the God of Israel”. Notice how he words it, v.10, “they saw…” not “I” or “we”. Have no first-hand description of God by Moses, yet he spent more than month as close to God as man could and live. Close enough long enough that ch. 34 tells of his face reflected so much of God’s glory, people were afraid of him. Would that were true for us… that others would see glory of God in our faces.

Glory of the Lord not on switch, not something to be put on / taken off. Is an inseparable part of God’s being, displayed because God is glorious. Moses, other OT figures, even disciples saw displays of God’s glory, somewhat dimmed yet real. John in referring to experience on Mount of Transfiguration declared “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 Author of Hebrews describes the Son as “being the brightness of his glory” (Heb. 1:3). Want something to ponder… says “being the brightness…” not “having…”

Those fellows saw God’s glory with physical eyes; we… for now… see his glory with eyes of faith, displayed / revealed to us in God’s work book and his Word book. Glories of creative handiwork in world around us, glories of his redemptive handiwork in Word before us. Learn some things about his glory from portion of his Word book in Exodus 24: his glory teaches us, it prepares us, and it purifies us.

A. God’s glory in the law teaches v.12

signatures reveal character

Trump/Kim signatures – graphologist: one skilled in the “art or science of inferring a person’s character, disposition, and aptitudes from the peculiarities of his handwriting”

“The angular formation shows, basically, he thinks he is very important, is quick tempered, highly critical and tense. He relies on his own opinion rather than taking advice from others and is an analytical thinker. The angular formation of his signature combined with the large bunched letters show he loves being in the limelight or constantly being the centre of attention. The pressure of the pen on paper shows he is very dominating and the heavy pressure on the strokes shows he demands perfection from himself and others.”

“The ascending strokes shows he is optimistic and currently in high spirits, an intuitive thinker. He is extravagant in nature given the large spaces between the letters. The large spacing gives away even more clues to his personality, including that he doesn’t like other people. He may prefer others at a distance. I’d say he has a very tight circle of friends and is not easy to make friends with and prefers his own company.”

not exactly God’s signature but was his handwriting… given to Moses… written on stone… with his finger – wealth of teaching just in that much, even before getting to content

God didn’t use secretary, his power caused writing to appear on tablets – no need for draft copy, spellcheck, white-out or eraser

also makes plain that God personally bound himself to covenant with his people – gets even more personal later in Lord Jesus

statements reveal expectations

intended to endure – written on stone – reinforced by first command: no other gods; we think of something engraved in stone as unchanging… God even more so

if what God wrote revealed his character by what he expects of his people, since God’s character doesn’t change, neither do expectations

holds true even now: still expects same ways of thinking, saying, doing from his subjects – difference is we have different degree of help to meet God’s demands

most important is this: God accepts Lord Jesus’ perfect obedience so he can gracioiusly accept our less than perfect obedience

law and commandments liberate

original lie Eve believe: God’s law unnecessarily restrictive, preventing her enjoyment of something she was really entitled to – Satan’s lie and fallen human nature perpetuate that way of thinking

God had different point of view: God wrote law and commandments for instruction of his people, not to burden or confine

did not expect Moses to go down mountain, start using tablets to weigh down the people, rather to teach what God expects

no need to learn by trial and error how to please God, no need to wonder how demanding standard of performance really is

no one can honestly consider terms of God’s covenant and expect to keep terms perfectly – know is only matter of time… short time… before failure

teach need for someone who can satisfy demands – is why instructions for sacrifice immediately follow proclamation of commandments

“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Gal. 3:24

B. God’s glory in worship prepares v.16

come and wait

Moses instructed / invited to go up mountain nearer to God’s presence, into the cloud and approacing the fire on top of mount

can come up with lots of reasons why meeting should get underway as soon as Moses arrived – importance of subject, amount of ground to cover, other demands on God’s time and attention

in our way of life / thinking, delay means wasting time – apparently God thought otherwise… nothing happened for six days… or is that really true?

Moses not sitting in waiting room hanging out til God showed up – God already there, Moses closer than anyone else to God

think this way

Moses didn’t say anything, God didn’t say anything… for six days – can be sure Moses didn’t put his mind in neutral, turn engine off while he waited

when Moses arrived, probably had in back of mind men he left behind at foot of mountain, kinds of things they might deal with

long before end of six days, Moses’ thinking focused on one thing only… God and his glory – that is what Moses talks about, 2x

doesn’t matter how long have been Christian, are things about thinking that still need to change – sitting quietly before God helps reorient thinking so we understand better from God’s POV

words aren’t always necessary

is true in human relationships – often just being together enough, don’t need conversation – rides to / from Dresden, etc.

no question, God has communicated to us using words… very precise ones at that – if is as it seems, no conversation for six days, and not wasting time, simply being in God’s presence has great value

reasonable to expect if Moses’ face absorbed some of God’s glory, his mind must have absorbed things as well, what would prepare him for next stage

when God spoke on seventh day, began long instruction on essentials of worship – both the place and things to be done at tent of meeting

God wanted Moses’ thinking pointing in right direction to receive that instruction, not cluttered up with lots of other things

good pattern for us, at least make point of getting heads going in right direction before come through door on Sunday morning – sets up for gaining greater blessing / profit from time spent in worship

C. God’s glory in relationship purifies v.17

both cloud and fire present

God as both leader and protector – pillar of cloud to lead, pillar of fire to light the way, God’s presence 24/7 to protect from enemies

cloud served necessary function for Moses and people at the mountain – hid God and his full glory from those at a distance

clear reminder that C S Lewis’ words about Aslan true also of God – “he is good but he is not safe” – sinful man cannot approach holy God too closely even when invited by God

Moses entered the cloud and approached the fire

was when Moses got closer to the fire that impurities were burned off, God’s glory rubbed off on Moses, and Moses was changed

God and sinfulness cannot co-exist in close relationship – as we approach God, we are changed: desires, ways of thinking and acting

sinfulness gets pushed away, purged away by fire of God’s holiness – a sense in which more of God we have in us, the less of sin there will be

more fully saturated with God’s truth, more aware of his presence, more devoted we are to him and more fully we depend on him, less apt will be to displease him

God intends to purify his people

God showed his love “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) – does not intend we should stay that way; “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that [we] should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21)

heard someone on radio say “God loves you just the way you are” – no, God loves you when you are the way you are, but intends to change you

Best news of all: Heb. 12:18, 22-24, 28 Jesus a better Mediator than Moses – lilke Moses, Jesus teaches how “we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”; unlike Moses, Jesus gives his people grace so they can “serve God acceptably”. Unlike brothers and sisters from Old Covenant, don’t have to settle for laying sins on head of animal trusting God to keep his promise and pardon us. And do it again… and again, as long as we live. Can rejoice in confidence that our sins laid on Jesus covered by his blood, never held against us by God, that “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psa. 103:12)

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26. Why have you been standing here idle all day?

Matthew 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’

Read: Matthew 20:1-16

Setting:

Jesus asked question in context of a “kingdom of heaven” parable… told on road after encounter with young ruler

perhaps “direct answer” to Peter’s question “what’s in this kingdom thing for us”

is possible, if not likely, passing by marketplace with day laborers gathered looking for work

Person(s) being questioned:

in the parable, Jesus the landowner – laborers his people – vineyard the church

asks question of laborers who have been stainding in marketplace, waiting all day to be hired

Question behind the question:

do you really want to work?

if I give you the opportunity to work, will you take it?

will you trust me for just compensation?

Expected response:

the one given was best one – had filled out lots of applications, sent resumes, no response

could have given lots of other reasons

work too hard, pay too little; no accommodations for disability; lose other benefits

no assignment of blame, simple statement of fact… yet much is implied in response

Jesus’ point:

expects his laborers to be willing to work at all times

expects laborers to be ready to work even when prospects might be slim

expects laborers to work to best of ability no matter how much of day is left

point of parable:

God doesn’t pay piece rate – he graciously rewards faithfulness (not success) according to his sovereign scale

God expects his laborers to trust him to reward justly according as he knows what is sufficient

Modern Application:

Jesus’ points still apply

can also add couple things:

Gentiles coming into Kingdom later in the day than Jews does not diminsh their reward

coming to faith “later in life” does not automatically diminish reward

Call to Repentance

Zephaniah 2:1-3

Evidence of problem – a “shameless nation” ESV. See Jer. 6:15; 8:12 (Zephaniah’s contemporary and his assessment) When think about kinds of things that should cause people to blush, not hard to imagine what kinds of behaviors might be in view. Saying or doing wrong thing at wrong time, causing personal embarassment, talking about someone then realizing they are w/i earshot. Often involves getting caught in some kind of questionable behavior – lying, stealing, some form of immorality.

Not the kind of absence of embarassment, lack of shame either prophet has in view. Certainly are connected concepts but foremost issue needing attention / correction that of worship practices detestable to God. When worshiping wrong god or right God wrong way, sins addressed in chapter 1 not far from sight. Natural desire to worship what will gratify desires – when desires are sinful, want to worship god(s) that will sanction / enable that kind of behavior. Wrong worship leads to increasing outrageous behavior.

It is believed the 56 children, found alongside the remains of 30 young llamas, were killed as part of a ritual to stave off devastating rain and flooding caused by a major El Niño event that hit the region around 600 years ago. …In April, the bodies of 140 children and 200 young llamas were found in Huanchaquito’s Las Llamas sector, just a few kilometres from the site of the 56 newly discovered skeletons. Archaeologists described the find as the largest single incident of mass child sacrifice in history.

George Mason University archaeologist Professor Haagen Klaus said that societies along Peru’s northern coast may have sacrificed children to fend off the devastation caused by the event. He said groups likely turned to sacrifice children after rituals involving adults failed to stop the onslaught of rain and floods.

‘People sacrifice that which is of most and greatest value to them,’ he told National Geographic in April. ‘They may have seen that was ineffective. The rains kept coming. Maybe there was a need for a new type of sacrificial victim.'” Daily Mail, 06/08/2018

Had been slow gradual drift over extended period of time to get to point where God said enough. Yet even then, God did not pounce. Made sure, speaking through prophets, people knew judgment was certain, so also opportunity for repentance and restoration to right relationship. Would not avert national catastrophe, would permit God to show mercy on individual basis. Window of opportunity still open during Zephaniah’s day, would not remain open indefinitely.

A. gather together v.1-2

pay attention

no time to be going off in all different directions, pursuing individual goals – nation is in crisis, you need to come together, refocus

purpose stated v.3, need solemn national gathering (NDoP) to turn from seeking own ends and seek the Lord while still time

before the decree

God’s declared intent to bring judgment already made public – is possible he might relent as for Nineveh if right response from people

if genuine repentance not forthcoming, decree would certainly take effect, would become their reailty – no turning back then

meanwhile all preliminaries being put in order – forces and means God would use to bring about judgment coming into place according to his plan – human powers had their reasons for aggression, God had his reason

before the day passes

right now is day of opportunity, different kind of day coming – this day will come to end with no warning, time to respond

just like gust of wind blows chaff away never to be recovered, nothing left behind to show for the day – only thing that will make day of opportunity worthwhile is if includes repentance

uncertainty makes right action even more urgent – really is matter of life and death… for eternity… not mostly about degree of pain and suffering future holds… in this life

before the Lord’s anger comes

Zephaniah uses pretty strong language talking about God’s anger – fierce / burning / raging anger, could rightly call it consuming anger… the fire of his judgment that consumes evil and purifies

might think kind of extreme on God’s part to treat people that way – is really measure of his love for his own, will stop at nothing to bring about their redemption from ruin

to allow evil to continue unchecked would draw even more away from truth, not something God will permit to happen

final incentive to repentance – God’s judgment when it comes will be inescapable… it will come upon them, overtake them, even if trying to run away from it

B. seek the only option v.3a

don’t need Google or smartphone – probably would hinder more than help in search; truth is everyone knows basics, purposely looking in other directions

the Lord

Following the news of ex-Beatle George Harrison’s death, “Today” show anchor Anne Curry interviewed Anthony DeCurtis, a writer for “Rolling Stone” magazine. DeCurtis talked at length about Harrison’s search for a meaningful spiritual life. Curry said, “Apparently Harrison was the most spiritual of the group [speaking of the Beatles]; in a recent interview he said, ‘Everything else in life can wait, but the search for God cannot wait.'”

prophet seems to turn attention from masses to faithful few (meek of the earth…) but message one all could profit from heeding

can learn from Ezekiel – might seem fruitless to prophesy to dead bones… when Spirit of God moves on those bones through proclamation of God’s word, will come to life

good to remember other places in Bible: “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Isa. 55:6 “Today, if you will hear his voice: do not harden your hearts…” Psa. 95:7-8

righteousness

even for those who uphold his justice, who carry out what he commands, righteousness… right doing does not come naturally – something that must be continually pursued

no one except Jesus can be righteous enough to satisfy God – everyone can strive to be more righteous than presently are, including unbelievers too

shouldn’t underestimate degree to which righteous person or group can be influence for change – conversation, community, course of nation

examples from Bible: Joseph, Daniel, Esther – each one used by God within their sphere of influence, extending up to highest levels of foreign govt, to change course of history

humility

attribute of Lord Jesus himself (Zech. 9:9), opposite of haughty – really is having proper self-image according to God’s estimation

like righteousness, does not come naturally – thinking more highly of self than should is default attitude, must continually guard against cuz will develop quickly

is not the proud and haughty God does most of his redemptive work through – is the humble willing servants most useful to him

could summarize all this, now, for us: be like Jesus – strive with all our effort to do right, think right… in total dependence on God

C. don’t give up v.3b

wrath is coming

for Zephaniah’s contemporaries, God exercised judgment by sending entire nation back into slavery – first by Assyrians, then Chaldeans

at best, day might be delayed by revival during time of Josiah… after Bible was discovered… again, and genuine effort made to follow it esp. in matters of worship

no question whatever that Great Day is coming – day has been set, Judge appointed – God knows specific details but could be tomorrow, must be prepared

but God is merciful

God will never give his people what they deserve – Lord Jesus experienced that in their place so they can receive mercy

even in Zephaniah’s time, God could and did shield faithful followers from unnecessary hardship… hiding them from harm

when God chooses not to prevent suffering or even death of those who are his, outcome radically different for them than ungodly

he is the only hope

not popular sentiment in pluralistic society where all belief systems supposed to be equally valid – to say only one way frowned on

unpopular or not, is truth according to God’s word the Bible – we know it, others need to hear / be reminded of it

just as important, there is hope for those who have none… and we know where they can find it

CDC report: 45,000 deaths by suicide in 2016, 58,000 American casualties in Vietnam War – is leading cause of death in US and rising

often multiple contributors: Relationship problem (42%); Crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks (29%); Problematic substance use (28%); Physical health problem (22%)

largest single contributor that embraces all of above is hopelessness – no hope that problems are survivable, that things can get better

the Christian ideally equipped to help the hopeless – we have a hope, know who/what/where, can lead others to that hope

Timeless message, just as relevant for unrepentant sinners in our world as Zephaniah’s. Just as necessary now as then, good reminder for us also. Don’t be looking for love or anything else in all the wrong places. Seek to be like Christ, to follow him closely and faithfully.

Come and Worship

Exodus 24:1-11

Few other places in the world have such a diversity of experiences called worship as you can find in our country. Everything from coffee shop or living room with one or two handfuls of people up to multi-site churches with a few thousand spectators watching a speaker who is a holographic projection. Then there is all sorts of help available to choose worship seating, worship lighting, a worship leader, a worship team, worship music all carefully arranged in a worship center to provide the ultimate worship experience.

Yet in all written and said about these things, little if any attention given to whether or not at “ultimate worship experience” God shows up. Almost as though must be a given that He would – call it worship, take for granted God will be there. Truth is no venue regardless of place or size has immunity to that kind of thinking. Is also true that wherever God’s people gather together to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth”, God will be present. “The Father is seeking such to worship him.” (John 4:23)

Worship scene described in text not what comes to mind first: building, music, seating, etc. This was outdoor worship, for some requiring hike up side of mountain (Sinai), carrying food and drink for outdoor meal in very presence of God himself. This something that totally took Moses by surprise, Moses who had closer personal contact with God than anyone else w/i sight of mountain. No question, God was in charge of this encounter, no one came down mountain same as when they went up.

A. a call to worship v.1-4a

God gives the call

“come to me and worship” – is an imperative invitation: inviting Moses and companions to come away from the crowd, at same time God calls with authority

God would not have accepted excuses – sorry, not a good time, maybe next week, have pair of tickets, opportunity for double-time, not in right mood for worship

God sets the terms

no way Moses was getting out of this one, not any hint he wanted to; told specifically who to bring with him: brother who would become high priest, two of Aaron’s sons, the seventy chosen at Jethro’s suggestion

Moses given greatest and nearest access to God’s presence, those who went with him could come close but not too close, the people around foot of mountain

foreshadowed nature of worship once tabernacle completed – outer courtyard, holy place, holy of holies – and how regulated

God speaks to his people

remember Ex. 20:19-21 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

here in text, Moses put that into action – taking God’s words that he heard directly to people – what people heard was God speaking to them through spokesman Moses… God’s word, Moses’ voice

later that day Moses began process of writing the Bible, started in middle of Exodus not beginning of Genesis – is God’s voice we hear when his word is read, same as verse 7

true worshipers respond

didn’t ask for time to think it over, not we’ll do these but those are asking too much – no negotiating, quarreling, simply commitment to obedience to God

how well people kept commitment another matter – first response to hearing God speak was best one, only satisfactory one

B. a place of worship v.4-6

altar – presence of God

for God to be present with his people, his holiness / their sinfulness requires some kind of sacrifice – sacrifice requires altar, built according to God’s instructions – see Ex. 20:24-26

where God is worshiped in way that pleases him, God shows up in particular way, w/ stated intent of blessing worshiping people

pillars – people of God

arranged 12 standing stones around altar – not Stonehenge – giving tangible form to God’s presence in midst of his people, his whole people… no tribe left out

later represented by 12 cakes, showbread or bread of presence continually before presence of God in holy place

sacrificing

two kinds of sacrifice – burnt offering, peace offering – intended to signify two very important and distinct things

burnt offering the sacrifice for sin – hand on head, vicarious sacrifice, pardon received, offering consumed completely on altar

peace offering sacrifice for thanksgiving / commitment – thanks for forgiveness and reconciliation, commitment to obedience – fat/kidneys burned as sacrifice, meat grilled and eaten

C. the book of the covenant v.7

reading the Word

first pages of the Bible not even 24 hours old, ink hardly dry, Moses reading aloud to gathered people of God – small but significant fragment of what would become 66 books by 40 authors recorded over 1400 years

this beginning portion contained terms of God’s covenant w/ his people – God defining how he would relate to them, they to him

important to remember: no one comes to God outside covenant – cannot invent own way of approaching / worshiping God… and have it be accepted by God

proclaiming the Word

more to it than just reading only things God had said – needed to know more than what God had said, needed to know that God had spoken

also needed to know with certain clarity which God had spoken – Moses proclaimed what he had written as word of YHWH who had made covenant with his people

responding to the Word

is to YHWH and his word that people responded – “all that YHWH has said we will do” – this time was to God’s written word read publicly they made verbal commitment to change

regardless of success or failure of follow-thru, response was correct – this part of their example good and right, one we should copy

D. the blood of the covenant v.8

vicarious sacrifice

observe sequence here: burnt offerings made, portion of blood sprinkled on altar; Book of Covenant read, people respond; rest of blood sprinkled on people

teaching in living color only way God’s people can enter covenant, remain in covenant with him is through sacrifice of another

purifying

God shows his commitment to keeping his people in covenant with him – restoring through atonement and pardon, purifying from sin and sinfulness

better blood in the New Covenant

was clear ritual of sacrifice not one-time thing – because of how God regulated it, something that would be part of life for them

not so for us – we participate in better covenant established on better promises with better mediator and better sacrifices

Heb. 9:13-14 “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

E. fellowship with God v.9-11

they went closer

after worship through sacrifice, Moses and companions acted on God’s call – mountain previously off-limits to all but Moses

now that formal terms of covenant understood, others could approach God more closely – majority of people still kept at distance, would change radically with New Covenant

they saw God

for brief time, God parted curtain between physical and spiritual, earth and heaven – given privilege of seeing God of covenant

God’s glory restrained yet visible, same God seen by Ezekiel and Daniel and John – a significant element of worship, to see true God in some measure… revealed by Spirit thru Word, ordinances, and people

they ate and drank

was to be more to their worship than seeing God – were to experience and enjoy him… as friends sharing a meal, one of most intimate things friends did in that culture

this experience really shadow form of future reality – what we in New Covenant experience with greater clarity, what all God’s people will enjoy in next age

they lived

wonder if Moses surprised – God did not lay his hand on them! — remember, was time when people convinced were gonna die if they saw God

As awesome as this experience was, we enjoy fuller relationship / experience with God than brothers and sisters of Old Covenant. Not just select few who are called up the mountain to eat and drink with God:

Heb. 10:19-22 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,and having a High Priest over the house of God,let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

“Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God; it whets our appetite.” — Eugene H. Peterson Worship should fuel desire for day when will “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Time Is Running Out

Zephaniah 1:1-18

When small, picked on eldest daughter about tomorrow – never gets here, when it does it’s today. Lots of folks live like that really is true… and like will always have today. If something comes along that threatens way of thinking, like serious health issue, get angry, go ballistic, refuse to accept. Act as if think today is permanent guarantee, no need to give much if any thought to what might come next.

Bible strongly urges different viewpoint: great day of the Lord is near and coming quickly. Judgment Day is coming, nothing to joke about; if was near in Zephaniah’s day, is that much closer now. Those who have strong confidence in God and right relationship with him need not fear – will be a good day for them. Those estranged from God or avowed enemies, different kind of day – will truly be worst day of their life.

Great day of the Lord not the only time of judgment. Have been occurrences already – Flood, Babel, Babylonian exile, fall of Jerusalem, to name a few. Each one an example and warning – think of Kilauea, rumbles, smokes and squirts, then bigger sights and sounds, might even be really big one. Same for preliminary or intermediate judgments brought by God – each a small-scale example of what is yet to come. Also very minor preview of what eternity has in store for the lost. And… each one a reminder God is serious, has not forgotten, will not abandon his purpose to judge the world. Has already appointed the day and the Judge. What is left is remainder of God’s plan to take place first, then the Day.

Our security should not make us complacent. Should incite us to be like Evangelist who warned Pilgrim to “Flee the wrath to come” and pointed him to the light that would lead to eternal life. Don’t need to look far to see what there is to warn people about, is in our text.

A. creation unmade v.2-3

sweep away everything

is poetry, so do need to keep that in mind – more apt to be figures of speech like hyperbole, parallelism for emphasis

is also just as clear God not speaking about small event – Judah and Jerusalem specifically named objects of his displeasure but God’s actions will have global impact

man and beast – beginning with man, process of purifying works in reverse through creation order, sweeping away what God made good and man corrupted

the birds of the heavens, fish of the sea – obviously not flood this time, some other form of purifying, reserved for Great Day

the stumbling blocks (rubble, ESV; ruins, CSB) along with the wicked – given specific issue God is addressing (syncretism), rubble probably ruins of trappings of idol-worship

target: sinful man and what he worships, both real and representation

God’s aim never off, always achieves his precise purpose – has no reason to go after true believers in judgment… Jesus will take care of that 6 centuries later

will judge evildoers in Judah, destroy all wrong things they worshiped by adding to YHWH-worship – eventually will sweep away things represented by idols

on Great Day of the Lord, earth will be swept clean of all impurity – will be nothing left to remind of sinfulness, hinder worship / fellowship with one another and God

purpose: demonstrate true God’s absolute sovereignty and superiority

God regularly “intervenes” in affairs of mankind to remind of his presence, power… his ongoing commitment to use power to achieve his purpose

sinful mankind may deny his existence / authority, invent own ways / objects of worship… until day when God says “Enough”

all of this in preparation for new heavens and new earth – existing created order finally purified and renewed, fully redeemed from curse accompanying fall into sin

B. groups targeted v.4-13

idolators (4-6)

worship (what is) popular – people of God always in minority, far outnumbered by followers of competing worldview(s)

from God’s perspective, not problem for righteous to go against the flow, worship differently – problem is when flow comes into worshiping community

differing degrees of idoaltry – from “true God plus a little” to “true God maybe an afterthought” – often result of creep, slow change as false religion infiltrates the church – happens more quickly when invited in

God’s judgment would erase worship of fertility gods, worship of celestial bodies, creatures instead of Creator from Israelite life

risk for worshipers: adding things from culture to worship of true God that he has not sanctioned – Hallmark holidays, unsanctified elements in worship (greet your neighbor, musical performance)

princes and oppressors (8-9)

worship power – influence of foreign cultures had devastating effect on Jewish people – example given is their adoption of foreign fashion standards / practices

likely that fashion advertised and promoted lifestyle and ethical choices associated with idolatrous and immoral culture – implication is that underlying values came along with fashion statements

shown by Israelite adoption of superstitions and behaviors of pagan neighbors – really is no divide between faith and reason

Holy Yoga email…

merchants (10-11)

worship possessions – Wall Street crash small potatoes compared to devastation God’s judgment would bring on Jewish economy

agricultural economy had become market-driven one – making money by trading money, profit by transfer of ownership without adding any value to product

measure of the person had become measure of personal wealth – God no longer on the radar, people trusting in own genius, amount of accumulated wealth, no longer trusting in God for his provision

Global Leadership Summit – “fresh actionable and inspiring leadership content” – targeting church leaders, hosted by a church, sponsored by a church association – senior VP of Retail, Apple; faculty, Harvard Law School; restaurateur; Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley

complacent (12-13)

worship private god – have developed own definition of God, deny his power or interest – think the 18th century Deist’s view

what is in effect said when minister reads short Bible text, makes disparaging comments, puts Bible away, gives warm/fuzzy talk

happy with status quo, claim God won’t mind what they do, content to focus on what can be seen / touched, ignore the rest

claim name of Christian but resist any kind of change in thinking / behavior – come to church week by week, leave each time unchanged by what they have heard

C. time running out v.14-18

day is near, near and hastens quickly

day when Jerusalem would be defeated, plundered, left in ruins not far in future – within lifetime of most of Zephaniah’s listeners

message intensity ramps up quickly, hard to hear especially for true believers, absolutely essential warning for all at risk of judgment

if in God’s view of things “Great day of the Lord” was near and coming in a hurry 2600 years ago, must be even closer now

is good incentive for us to be diligent, doing our part to convince those at risk no guarantees of good tomorrow, even next hour

noise of the day is bitter – certain defeat

a bad day even for heroes – even big boys gonna cry over this one, frustrated, totally powerless in face of God’s righteous anger

no secret about it either, will be done out in open for all to see – may be Babylonian army in uniform, God is Commander-in-chief

day of: wrath…

not a temper tantrum, rather God’s just punishment on evildoers for their willful sin against him and one another

Zephaniah piles up words and pictures to shock people into hearing / heeding his warning – not anything to just blow off

hardship: trouble and distress — devastation and desolation — not to be quick passing inconvenience, something easily endured… will totally change way of life, permanently

fear: darkness and gloominess — clouds and thick darkness — things often associated with God’s presence, e.g. Sinai, intended to strip Jewish people of false confidence, bring face to reality of their sin

for them, for us today, still time to repent and turn back to true God in true worship; on Great Day… no such opportunity

war: trumpet and alarm — in Zephaniah’s day God would work through means (Chaldean army) to bring about judgment

on Great Day, will be God himself in person of Lord Jesus leading the charge, riding on white horse, followed by armies of heaven clothed in fine linen, white and clean

will be Lord Jesus himself who will tread winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, bringing final justice to earth, preparing way for new heaven and earth (see Rev. 19:11ff)

no relief (17)

once again reminded that will be God bringing consequences on his people for their sin against him – will be all-consuming for those who persist in rebellion

no escape (18)

no purchase amount will buy deliverance from God’s wrath, no place will escape his judgment… w/i boundaries of Israel in Zephaniah’s day, entire face of the earth on that day

D. God has guests!

Not all is lost, not hopeless situation for everyone. Look at verse 7:

will be an awesome day

God’s power and immensity and holiness and glory will silence everyone in his presence – no one will have anything to say

will be a remnant preserved

God has guests!! – he has invited them, he has consecrated them, purified them so they can rightly be at his table

must be diligent to include genuine reason for hope along with warning of judgment

 

God’s Leading Man

Exodus 23:20-33

Events in our text close out this scene in drama at Mount Sinai. Had arrived at mountain, made camp around it. prepared for visitiation from God. On third day, God came down on mountain, showed his presence with “thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.” (Ex. 19:16) After giving further instruction to Moses, God spoke in hearing of people… giving Ten Commandments. Followed that with example application – gave his people basic principles, then explained how to apply in real life situations.

Next chapter, God will call Moses and select few up the mountain for amazing time of worship, then will give Moses detailed instructions for constructing portable worship center… the Tabernacle. But first, once again God makes clear what he intends to do for his people, what he expects their / our response to be. Hebrew children have long road still ahead – traveling through desert area, lands filled with hostile people, to finally arrive at destination. Not coincidence their journey looks / sounds a lot like ours – traveling through hostile territory until reach heavenly Canaan.

Also not coincidence Hebrew children provided with leader, guide, protector to bring them to destination. Same individual appointed by God to lead us to our final destination. Everything credited to Angel leading Israelites can in principle be credited to one leading us on our journey – is Lord Jesus who led them and is leading us…God’s Leading Man. Without question, God and his Angel are central to this portion of text – all about God and what he committed to doing for his people.

A. God’s actions (y)

has prepared a place (20b)

God just finished telling how they should live and act in the land, has not specified location in their hearing… yet – would really want to turn tail, run back to Egypt if knew all that awaited them

instead God builds up to it, tells little at a time – reassures them, not going alone, not to unknown place… unknown to God

is a place God has been actively preparing, beginning with Abraham – ” I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan” (Gen. 17:8)

Abraham not to take immediate possession – would take 400 years, “in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Gen. 15:16)

sends a leader (20a)

God would not give treasure map with key and secret decoder ring, send them on their way – God would send leader of his choosing

sure, God had chosen Moses to lead people from Egypt to Canaan, were some things about journey beyond Moses’ ability

God did not trust Hebrew children to pick own leader – God did the picking… only he was fully qualified to choose right person

will bless his people

given short condensed form of list identifying God’s intended blessings – comprehensive description of blessings / cursings later in Deut. 28:1-14 followed by list of consequences for disobedience

God commits to caring wisely / well for his people – at same time, lets his people know he expects willing obedience

starts right out with most important blessing: pardon (21); then protection (21-22); food will be nourishing (25), healed from sickness (25), large families and long life (26)

…protect his people

don’t have ability to get to destination by themselves, God will send leader; will be tempted along the way, will fall into sin, God sends one who can / will pardon sin

will be enemies along journey, those who would do them harm; will be adversaries, actively opposing God’s declared purpose and people – God will personally deal with them

God will keep his people from unnecessary harm, will clear the way of all opposition – will do it in such a way that land is not harmed, unable to support Israelites (29)

…establish his people

is God who fixes the boundaries / borders of their land – “conquest of Canaan” overseen / orchestrated by God down to last detail

remember… was “place he had prepared”, sounds a lot like Jesus in John 14, place where he would establish his people as nation

was God who would drive out Canaanites, who would deliver them to destruction – had God not done so, Israelites would never have succeeded, would never have really arrived and gained their inheritance

B. God’s Agent (b)

an / My Angel

an Angel v.20, My angel v.23, messenger / agent specifically designated by God for this particular task – leading people of God to their destination

we are no better equipped to make it to final destination than Israelites – need skilled guide to lead the way so don’t lose way

has authority

to command: “pay careful attention… and obey” – as divinely appointed messenger would communicate God’s word to people

yet God doesn’t stop with telling them to obey his word (God’s message) – requires them to “obey his voice“, to “not rebel against him” – no other angel like this one

disobedience / rebellion treated as sin which Angel has power to forgive – forgiveness of sin a prerogative reserved for God alone

has a Name

no surprise to hear this Angel has God’s Name – the one who will be with them, will lead them, none other than God himself

only one person fits this description – the Angel sent from God with authority to command and forgive – God’s Leading Man the Lord Jesus… the one who has gone before us to lead the way home

see Joshua 5:13-15

God kept promise: lead up to first battle in Canaan, Commander of Lord’s arrmy met Joshua… on holy ground

C. God’s purpose (m)

keep you (20)

important task for Angel: keep / guard / protect God’s people along the way – haven’t been gone from Egypt 3 months yet

except for God’s keeping power, would have been decimated by Pharaoh’s army at Red Sea crossing; same true when Amalekites harassed on way to Sinai

will be more enemies / adversaries before even reach Canaan – will need God’s / Angel’s protection… just like we do

some tried to bar the way, prevent from ever traveling that far; other enemies brought up by Satan to discourage / demoralize, make them give up

even when gave in to unbelief (Num. 14), God threatened to abandon and start over, then pardoned because of Moses’ intercession

continued to protect his people throughout repeated episodes of rebellion, provided for needs during balance of 40 years

go before you (23)

God doesn’t send his people to place where he hasn’t gone first – Angel goes ahead, preparing way, God’s people follow

wherever we go at God’s bidding, can do so confidently… knowing God himself going before – will never be situation where can truly say “God, you just don’t understand my troubles”

also means Angel encounters enemies before we do, he’s out in front, most dangerous place – we safely behind in his shadow

think about all enemies Jesus has encountered – temptation, discouragement, fatigue, fear, death – and has defeated them all and arrived at our final destination

bring you (23)

this a measure of God’s tender care – takes his people by the hand, brings them to destination – ask for help in box store, two responses: point, give directions… “come this way, I’ll show you”

in spite of Israelites’ shortcomings, God never let go of their hand – faithfully step by step brought them to Promised Land

D. our response (g)

obey (21)

consider who God was speaking to: a mixed group, both believers and unbelievers – made no distinction in regard to obedience

God’s expressed expectation is for everyone to obey his commands – also makes clear will be consequences for disobedience

God’s desire… that we obey his voice because we love him, want to please him – motivation counts in God’s eyes

do (22)

remember who it is speaking: God’s Angel who has his Name – is Jesus who has shown the way by his own obedience, leads us step by step in our obedience

serve / worship (25)

here’s the main point of Exodus – God has delivered his people from slavery so they can serve him, worship him, be devoted to him… alone, with no competitors

should be main point of life for us: serve God, worship God confidently and faithfully in all of life, knowing is one with nail-scarred hands who leads us each step of way to our eternal home

 

25. Why do you call Me good?

Matthew 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Read: Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-30

Setting:

Trans-jordan area, perhaps near Jericho (Mark 10:1) — just leaving an area of ministry (Matt. 19:15) — on the road (Mark 10:17) — in company with the Twelve

Person(s) being questioned:

a young man (Matt. 19:20) — someone with authority — (Luke 18:18) — had great possessions (Matt. 19:22; Mark 10:22) — was very rich (Luke 18:23)

wanted to be certain nothing was missing from his bucket list

Question behind the question:

How do you define good?

Do you know who you’re calling good?

In your view, what does it mean for you to be good?

In God’s view, what does it mean for you to be good?

What is required for you to be good?

Expected response:

You seem like a good person and you do a lot of good things.

response would almost certainly focus on externally observable things – “what good shall I do…”

young man’s question and subsequent answer limited to actions, not including motivation – loving God with “strength”, perhaps “mind”, “heart” not so much… esp. when it came to neighbor

Jesus’ point:

There is more to being good than doing good.

Thank God he has designed us so those who are not good can do good.

Only God by nature is good; every human being (Jesus only excepted) is by nature evil – see Eph. 2:1-3

Doing good cannot make you good – only God can accomplish that: conversion + sanctification + glorification

Modern Application:

World’s philosophy: mankind basically good; how one turns out depends on external conditions / influences

based on that, solution to social / personal problems requires change of circumstances, influences, opportunities

Christian view: mankind is fallen, evil at heart; how one turns out depends on heart condition, internal influences

based on that, full solution to social / personal problems requires change of heart and nature through power of Gospel and Holy Spirit

is just as true for believer as for unregenerate – believer given new nature but retains sin-corrupted other stuff (Rom. 7:15ff)

child of God never outgrows dependence on God, need for repentance / forgiveness, ongoing work of Gospel and Spirit

unbelievers can do less evil, we can encourage better behavior – must view solution to their problems from perspective of Gospel first, other helps second