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


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