Author: reformanda

The First Commandment: No God But God

Exodus 20:3

Heard in EXIT video study – worldview many neighbors claim to hold has changed. Less recognition of God, more people willing to profess belief in no God and no afterlife. Probably largest single contributor to appeal of suicide. Belief in many gods not far behind in its logical consequences. Here’s how the logic works: if no God, nothing to worry about; if many Gods, annoying one or two no problem; if really is one and only one God, there’s a problem. Is that one God the true God? And on what kind of terms are you with him?

Much less work and far lower risk to believe in no god or many gods. Can do as you please with no worries. If only one God, now issue of accountability, authority and more. Something missing here in Exodus 20 same as Genesis 1 – no attempt at proving existence of God. Is assumed God exists. In fact, Bible’s position: there is so much evidence for God, only a fool would say otherwise (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).

For group present at foot of Sinai, no doubt in their minds that powerful God of some kind existed – they could see, hear, feel overwhelming evidence. Plus all they had experienced since Moses first appeared before Pharaoh. Was a different question in view for them, and also those who claim to be people of God today: what is your relationship with the God who delivered you out of bondage? And answer to that question determines how you treat all that follows. Even if claim belief in God, if do not acknowledge and affirm him as your deliverer, rest of the book at best some suggestions to take or leave according to pleasure.

If you affirm that Yahweh is indeed the God who delivered you from slavery, the one who said he will be your God and you his people, the one who graciously acts on your behalf, then those ten commands become something very much different. When you recognize and acknowledge the great and gracious gift God has already given you, obeying his commands become a delight, not simply a duty.

Hold even greater significance when understand that each command reveals truth about the character of God. At same time, each one lays bare nature of our own character. Since God’s intent is that his people should be holy like him, each of his commands points out how by his gracious help we should live so as to please him.

One more thing: sadly a distinction lost in newer versions of Bible – between second person singular and plural pronouns. Modern English only has one – “you”; back in old days, had two – “thou” (singular) and “you” (plural). So why is that important? Remember the setting: God speaking from Sinai before crowd of million people. Could understand he was giving commands to group as a group, would not necessarily apply individually. Not so – God uses singular pronoun, “thou shalt”, “thou shalt not” – addressing commands to each and every person individually in that group. Not blanket commands but specific personal demands God placed on each person.

A. God is

exclusive – “I, the Lord your God”; has already referred to children of Israel 17x in Exodus alone as “my people”

isn’t that sweet – he will be their God, they will be his people; God is relational, promising fellowship with children of Israel, one big happy family w/fairy tale ending

all true… mostly, but not primary intent of what God was declaring – important aspect of true God’s nature and character: relational, unlike e.g. Allah

God has made point numerous times already, codifies it here: what kind of relationship he intends there to be with people

take one example – Ex. 6:7 “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

now let’s get right emphasis – at same time, remember what kind of culture… for generations: polytheism not just accepted, was expected

in that setting YHWH declaring to his people that that he to the exclusion of all other gods will be their God

at same time, declaring they to exclusion of all other peoples of the earth were his – “a special treasure to God above all people” Ex. 19:5

and, btw, all the earth is his so God gets to pick and he did – he picked who would have particular redemptive relationship

given this, no surprise in both Old and New Test. relationship between God / people described using marriage language

jealous – tolerates no rivals for his people’s devotion, is what means when Bible calls YHWH “jealous God”

does kind of not make sense when think about it – what kind of deity actually worth worshiping would allow/encourage devotion to other deities

consider this: by Creator’s design man is worshiper… of something / someone – true even of those self-identified as atheists

when God takes his people to himself, is taking from another little g god – would he then say “ok if you want to go back”?

God puts up with no rivals, certainly would never encourage… no more than sane husband would encourage suitor to wife

makes perfect sense – when God’s people turn their affections away from him, devote to other gods, God calls it adultery

committed – remember what God said: “I will take you as My people” – will provide, protect, love, cherish in distinct way

in role of Creator, God provides for all his creatures – “in him we live and move and have our being” – designed dependent, God supplies basic needs for life

as God to his people, Father to his children – there is much more to God’s distinctive care of those chosen to be his

consistent with his faithful character, God never divorces those who are truly his, never abandons adopted children

since God is totally committed for all eternity to his people, rightly expects his people to be fully devoted to him in return… and demonstrate devotion by obedience

reminder again: obedience to be response to redemption, not means to / condition of it – “I brought you out” past tense

B. We are

Hebrew children and we need this command – truth is if don’t get this one right, rest won’t matter anyway

easily captivated – things that get attention, appeal to senses and desires will quickly draw away from true God

other gods, really false fronts for Satan, do exactly that on purpose – promise what appears to be good and satisfying

may even be real good that is promised but cannot be supplied – false god may promise what only real God can provide

Hebrew children more confident of things seen than unseen – don’t see Moses, make us a god to lead us (golden calf)

is what Canaanite and surrounding gods would eventually do for their descendants – promised pleasure and prosperity… but without YHWH’s conditions… and idols couldn’t deliver

no different for us today – have hard time keeping spiritual perspective in world that is focused on material things

impatient

consider how many times Hebrew children have already complained – expect Moses to record question from back seat: “are we there yet?”

got moved into Canaan, didn’t have patience and trust to finish task of clearing out idolaters – settled down, made deals

often couldn’t wait for God to deliver, pushed ahead with own solution instead without seeking guidance… to their peril

modern people no more patient – see in driving habits whether SUV or shopping cart, at roundabout or checkout

in principle applies to Christians as well – end up pushing God over to side and pressing on with own agenda, timeline

proud – problem from almost the very beginning of human history

Satan deceived Eve for sure, yet the lie she bought: she could do as well or better governing own life than God had done

has been issue for fallen man ever since – maybe don’t reject God outright, often claim allegiance to him… but don’t believe they need to follow him until gets tough, maybe

believers have their moments, too – shows in neglect, failing to understand principles from Bible and apply, not using gift of prayer, relying on human wisdom instead of seeking godly wisdom

lest you think are immune to such a problem, remember apostle Paul:

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:7-9

C. We should

if we are to do as Lord Jesus reminds us – “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” Luke 10:27 , then what?

pursue God above all

goal must be to be as close to God as humanly possible, that his glory radiate from us as did later from Moses

does not happen automagically – requires intentional purposeful action and effort on our part using means God has given

strive to know God – study / learn / meditate on his revelation, both natural and special for the purpose of knowing God, not simply be another Ken Jennings

look to God first to supply not only your needs but also desires – will find out you don’t have to look anywhere else

seek God’s help in all things incl.: seeking God, knowing God, loving God, obeying God, honoring God, being satisfied in God

answer to WSC question 1 makes good point: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him… forever”

most of all: just like children of Israel God has delivered you / me from bondage in sin so we will be free to worship him

refrain from all that displeases God

the more we love God, more we want to please him, more we want to know him – more we know him, better we understand just how gracious he has been

natural response to understanding greatness of sin and grace of salvation is to avoid displeasing God at all costs

instead of blindly plowing ahead with habits and routines, when preparing to do something ask these questions: will what I am about to do bring me closer to God? make me more like the Lord Jesus? please him or displease him?

don’t see how close you can be to world, how much like the unsaved you can be and still squeak into heaven – Paul said

“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Tim. 2:22

encourage others to do the same

do so by word and deed – start with actions, demonstrating what it means to worship/love/serve God and him alone

then use words God gives to explain your choices, exhort your brothers and sisters to greater godliness, share Gospel truth

People of all kinds need to hear why Christmas is important – birth of Savior. Also need to realize are 2000 years closer to his next coming. No second chances, must be prepared, must give over all other gods and worship Christ and him alone.

 

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The Ruler of the Kingdom

Micah 5:2-15

Anticipation something Jewish people of old understood – seems like much of their history spent waiting… for God’s promises to be fulfilled. God promised Abraham a land… for his descendants. God promised David a kingdom… for Solomon. God promised deliverance from captivity… after seventy years. God promised Messiah the Prince would come… after seventy weeks worth of years. Micah didn’t know about Daniel’s weeks, did know this Ruler from Bethlehem would not be showing up any time soon. We should be able to relate to Micah – confident Lord Jesus will show up again, no clear idea of when, thinking probably won’t be right away.

Yes, waiting can be hard. But for people of God, never simply a wait with no idea whatever of the next thing. God graciously spoke through prophets in old days, more recently by Son the Lord Jesus – purpose to give his people hope. Think how long, bleak all those years would be without some word from God to give hope. For us, no promise of future bliss leave us thinking “life stinks, then you die”. Loving Heavenly Father didn’t leave his people in that condition, present text one of those provided for both ancient people and us as well.

What prophet tells us about Ruler of coming kingdom unbelievably impressive – every other ruler of every other kingdom in history of mankind pales in comparison. Amazing things would take place under administration of this ruler from otherwise insignificant place called Bethlehem.

A. promise v.2

Micah by inspiration already declared there was kingdom coming, even gave somewhat of time reference – that day, latter days

if a kingdom, must also be a King / Ruler to govern subjects of that kingdom – here are given explicit promise of one-of-a-kind Ruler

Ruler would have significance because of who he was, not where he came from – his hometown of little significance, same likely true for residents

chosen by God to rule on God’s behalf – not someone picked out by people – good thing, their track record not very impressive

also not typical individual – watch time references Micah uses… prophesying 8th century BC, says Ruler will come forth (future) whose origins are from of old, from everlasting

only one kind of individual who meets those conditions – human (will come forth) and God (ancient origin) in same person

this text almost certainly in list of ones Jesus identified to those on road to Emmaus – Luk. 24:27And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

this kind of promise would certainly resonate with faithful followers of God in Micah’s day – a righteous Ruler who brings about what is good and lasting for his people

same true for people of all kinds today – those suffering persecution, others enduring effects of corruption and immorality

B. preparation v.3

some things needed to take place first – God’s people not ready for Messiah / Ruler during Micah’s day, neither rest of world

identified later in this section, all that needed removal in order for people to be pure / holy – exile in Babylon achieved much

God would “give them up”, iow deliver / hand them over to their enemies – periods of hardship one time when what is true, important made clear

thought they wanted to worship idols, had more to gain from false gods than true God – given what they wanted, lived for a time in thoroughly heathen culture, largely isolated from sense of true God’s presence

came to understand futility, extremely high personal costs that accompany living in society permeated with idolatry

same holds for truth – spend time with those who in every part of life are committed to faulty worldview, realize value of truth

imagery Micah uses strongly implies whole process of preparation going to become less fun, more painful right up to final moment

talks in terms of labor and delivery – often hope of newborn baby to cuddle not enough make labor pains tolerable

what God needed to accomplish in his people not going to be very tolerable in the moment even though outcome would make it all worthwhile

God’s plan not only about Jewish people, had Gentiles in view also… and their preparation – Gentiles needed more time to grasp futility of their worldview

had whole range of gods designed to meet all needs, satisfy all desires; had pursued study of philosophy, little more to be added by later generations

were pretty sure by Paul’s day that none of them provided ultimate answers – we know… temple to the Unknown God

C. provision v.4

when time was right for this Ruler to come forth from Bethlehem, would not be tyrant or despot like were accustomed to having

of first priority: acts as shepherd to his people, leading not driving, providing not plundering – governs with majesty and authority of God himself

is in line of shepherds God had sent to lead his people: Moses, 40 years as shepherd in Midian; David, called from tending flock to be anointed next king

makes perfect sense that shepherd/sheep imagery would be strongly present in Jesus’ teaching about himself and his people

is God’s power and strength that enables this one to rule well, provides unlimited resources to meet needs of his subjects

this kind of ruler inspires confidence in his people, gives sense / feeling of security – expect him to do as good shepherd, keep sheep safe and secure from harm

picture painted here more comprehensive than simply nation of Israel – greatness of this Ruler not just local phenomenon

his greatness and authority will be acknowledged and exercised throughout the world – will be some hold-outs, e.g. Assyrians

D. peace v.5

need to read and understand carefully what is promised here: “this One shall be peace”, not “this One shall bring peace”

yes, he will give his people peace, he will bring peace to them, but goes deeper than that: this Ruler will be their peace

he is the one who makes his subjects at peace with God and at peace with one another… because of who he is

he is the one who stands between (daysman) and reconciles because he has paid penalty for sin, thus removes source of conflict, reason for absence of peace

in addition… he will through his emissaries deal with enemies of his people, here identified with Assyria, enemy on the doorstep

under Ruler’s direction, two-pronged approach to deal with hostile peoples – 7 shepherds, 8 princes – both necessary for the health and security of God’s people

shepherds go forth against enemies carrying word of God, the Gospel, sword of Spirit sharper than any two-edged sword

those the Gospel doesn’t conquer restrained by power of sword given to civil magistrate to encourage righteous, discourage/punish evil-doers

E. protection v.6

not intended to be lot of God’s people to go through life in a bubble, nothing viewed as negative getting inside the bubble

conflict ebbed and flowed but was present at some level in every part of Jewish history – is what to expect in fallen world

notice Micah does not say this Ruler will insulate God’s people from Assyrians – says he will deliver from their enemies

several versions: “he will rescue us” – use “rescue” when individual/group is in danger, perhaps already received some harm

enemies will at times cause harm to people of God, maybe even death – so how does that reconcile with Ruler rescuing us

remember how God works – constantly moving his people toward goal of Christ-likeness, uses “good” and “bad” in process

Satan and agents want souls, permitted only to cause harm to bodies – they cause physical death, is really deliverance for believer from this life to next

F. propagation v.7-9

widely scattered – people from Israel and Judah carried into exile: think mostly of Babylonian, large numbers relocated to another nation

earlier exile of Israel much different – Assyrians didn’t keep Jews together in large communities – scattered into many places, many from Judah deported to Egypt

over time Jews did return to land of Israel… but mostly from Babylon – majority of those scattered put down roots, stayed

were not forgotten by God, in fact dispersion an essential element of God’s purpose – God’s people, Jew and Gentile, intended to be light to the nations

especially true of faithful remnant – think ahead, apostle Paul, where he went first in each town: synagogue, fertile ground for Gospel to immediately take root

beneficial influence – good proof text against monastic life: intended to be rubbing shoulders w/all kinds, refreshing like dew

don’t have to live in monastery to act like monk – do business, hangout, be hospitable w/Christians only, avoid unbelievers

all those can be good but remember Jesus ate with sinners – we can do same, safely, when focus on doing God’s business

distinguishing mark – their trust not in horses and chariots, not in man’s solution – trust in their Ruler to shepherd them wherever they are dispersed in world

good proof text against “Rapture’s coming” mindset – wherever God has placed his people, intends them to be productive good citizens and ambassadors for the Gospel

Ruler will make certain that his people prevail against adversaries, overcome enemies – not using military but spiritual means

G. purity v.10-15

this Ruler not interested in trying to build up his kingdom on rotten foundation, putting new facade on deficient materials

methodically strips away everything not consistent with his character and principles / priorities – cut off, destroy, remove

new kind of Kingdom where all that represents confidence in man is removed: military power, material accomplishment, self-government, religious rituals

will be nation of kings and priests, a holy people that Ruler will govern, expecting subjects to trust in him alone for all things

all this take place in very small measure in Jewish history, more fully in Church, anticipates final realization in new earth when kingdom present in its fullness

Meanwhile, are still here, so must have work to do carrying on God’s business until Christ returns. Should do so boldly, confidently knowing advance of Kingdom is certain. Primary task – live as good citizen in Christ’s kingdom, telling all who will listen of our righteous Ruler and hope he offers to all.

 

Grace Before Law

Exodus 20:1-2

Seems natural to push boundaries – children do from very young age, don’t need to be taught how. Continues in adulthood, too. Complete stop at sign, at or below speed limit not 5 or 10 over small stuff compared to what many practice routinely. Is natural now, was not at beginning, before sin entered world. Even if not pushing limits, even Christians chafe under rules / laws. Shake head each time more or more restrictive laws passed limiting what we think of as freedoms.

Flip side, Christians accustomed to thinking since they are objects of God’s grace, are somehow exempt from rule of law, that law and grace somehow are contradictory. Author of highly popular study Bible from century ago said this:

“The most striking division of the Bible is that between law and grace. These contrasting principles characterize the two most important dispensations: the Jewish and Christian. Law (the revelation of God’s will) and grace (the revelation of God’s goodness) have always existed, and to this Scripture abundantly testifies. But “the law” most frequently mentioned in Scripture was given by Moses, and characterized the time from Sinai to Calvary; just as grace characterized the dispensation which begins at Calvary and has its predicted end in the rapture of the Church. It is, however, most vital to observe that Scripture never, in any dispensation, mingles these two principles. Law always has a place and work distinct from that of grace.” C I Scofield, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

Draw your attention to 1 John 3:4 – “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” If committing sin is lawlessness, refraining from sin must be law-keeping. In fact, Lord Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Tit. 2:14 Is indeed relationship between law and grace, not one entirely of contrast. In fact, God’s law and grace of Gospel are inseparable. God has given us his law for our good – God’s law reveals God’s character; God’s law gives insight into own character; God’s law instructs us how to please God; as Holy Spirit transforms us into Christ’s image, we more faithfully reflect God’s character by keeping his law.

As God commences giving itemized commands to his people, he first establishes his right to do so; then reminds people of kind of relationship God has with them; finally gets into specific requirements.

A. rights v.2a

communicating God – God spoke

told so by Moses – “God spoke all these words, saying” – yes, bears repeating… again, especially given human tendencies

1 Ki. 18:26-29 Elijah, prophets of Baal, “Baal, hear us”… for hours; conclusion: “But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention”

Baal, golden calf, none of gods fashioned by man see, hear or speak – yet YHWH Elohim spoke in hearing of Moses and all people gathered at Sinai

gods today may appear more sophisticated but none have power of speech, only God of Bible speaks to his people

told so by God – “I, the LORD, your God” – God had spoken to individuals prior to this, Moses included – first time to crowd

makes this time especially significant – sovereign Lord of all creation condescending to speak in hearing of his people… in way they could comprehend

as promised – Ex. 19:9 – God really doing several things here: demonstrating, again, his promise-keeping faithfulness

impressing on his people the seriousness of what will be communicated over next 40 days – much detail to accompany ten commandments, incl. detailed instructions for worship

validating ministry of Moses as God’s chosen mediator – demonstrating to people how true prophet does his job

covenant God – YHWH Elohim

identifies himself… by name …in historical context – “I, YHWH”, the God of their fathers, iow, God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

has proven track record, not only with them but also previous generations over long history – could expect God to be just as faithful to them as had been to the fathers

intends there will be no confusion about his identity – this God the only one who can rightly say “I AM” – self-existent eternal, using his covenant name

covenant God – is because of covenant previously made with Abraham/Isaac/Jacob that God acted to deliver from slavery

heard their groaning and remembered his covenant, is in process of renewing that covenant and enlarging it

because God established covenant and they agreed to it – “all God commanded we will do” (19:8), God has right to elaborate on his commands, his covenant expectations

creator God – YHWH Elohim – your God

establishes foundation – creation – even more fundamental than covenant obligations: the maker of something has right to do as he pleases with what he made

Paul labored point in Rom. 9:20ff – potter has right to make whatever he wants from lump, then do what he chooses with it – same surely holds true for creator God

all-wise God made all things according to design and with purpose – designed to be worshiping people, intended to worship true God alone

more than simple creative rights – mankind created by design as dependent beings, God obligated himself to be Provider

only God is self-existent, everything else depends on him for existence – since God freely provides all necessary for life, has right to expect certain things in return

see Acts 17:24-28

this creator God who made world and everything in it governs that world, including actions of his creatures

even determined where people will live with particular goal in mind – that they would seek God… and find him

B. relationship v.2b

personal – your God

a relationship initiated by God not people – was God who declared: “‘I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Ex. 6:7

more than simple statement about God – shows God’s intention to have ongoing relationship with people where God does things for their good… expects them to respond

redeemer

topping list of things God did: his great act of redemption – purposeful, focused, effectual – God acted according to plan designed for specific purpose with specific outcome in view

work of redemption intended to apply to particular group of people… children of Israel, the ones God identified as his people

graciously and effectually delivered them from their bondage – God talking to them at Sinai, not Pithom or Raamses

from place

children of Israel probably would have disagreed but… God did not deliver from Egypt to abandon in middle of nowhere

like all things with God, has addressed all details – destination in God’s view and should have been in theirs: land promised to fathers starting with Abraham

yet first ones who received promise knew was only token of real thing – receipt vs item, ring vs marriage, Canaan vs heaven

from condition

just as purposeful as deliverance from place – could move to new place, still be enslaved… e.g. TN brother, multiple moves

people had not earned either benefit of redemption, could not earn – was God’s gracious undeserved gift because of love

remember – God’s desire and intent, those who will worship him in spirit and truth John 4:23 – what comes next instructs how

C. requirements v.3ff

a holy nation Ex. 19:6; cf. Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26

stated goal for God’s people – “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” – those who desire and are fit to serve God in his presence

a holy God requires a holy people – devoted exclusively to his service, no longer slaves to sin and Satan – be holy

established by God Deut. 28:9

God did not intend to set up political state, plant nation of people in particular geographical area – “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself”

intended they would “keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways” as evidence of who they were – “Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD”

to obey Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18 love God, love neighbor

serving God, worshiping God requires obeying God in all things, incl. worship – God didn’t leave in dark how to please him

God’s law given graciously intended to give liberty (Jas. 1:25) – know how to rightly serve God, no longer slaves in darkness and superstition

since God desired his people to love / serve him, meant they should also copy / imitate him – God loves their neighbors, so…

no surprise requires his people to love neighbor – God made that plain too, what from his perspective love neighbor should look like

in all these requirements, God reveals his character, his love – God’s giving of his law just as much an act of love as giving his Son to be Savior of the world

not means to earn God’s favor, rather response to receiving God’s favor – Rom. 3:20, Gal. 3:24 – cannot be justified by keeping law, law instead brings us to Christ

“A Belgian man who chained himself to a block of marble …was unable to free himself and had to be cut loose after 19 days. In a performance that lasted 438 hours, Mikes Poppe attached himself to a three-metre (10ft) chain buried in the middle of a block of marble… Poppe, who ate, slept, washed and drew while chained, worked to liberate himself by chiselling away the stone towards the chain, but eventually had to be cut free. “This block was symbolic of history, the history of art, which I am trying to free myself from. I discovered that this is not possible. It is burden which I must always carry,” he said.”

Mr. Poppe could have rightly called block of marble his burden of sin, would be just as unable to free himself. We know we are sinners because cannot keep God’s Law, Law shows us our need. In fact, Law makes crystal clear our need for grace, saving grace. Found only in one pointed to by Law and Prophets, both essential elements of God’s great plan of redemption.

Are you like Mr. Poppe? Do you know someone who, like him, chained to inescapable burden of sin? Is one who can break that chain, who carried that burden to place called Golgotha, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Pet. 2:24 Poppe chiseled away at stone, could not make it go away or free himself. Don’t try that, is hopeless. Instead, confess sin, seek God’s forgiveness, receive cleansing from unrighteousness.

 

Life With God: Meeting God

Exodus 19:16-25

Let’s review for just a minute. Exodus opens by making connection with previous book, identifying the children of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob in days of Joseph. Number of generations passed, “new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph”. Moses born to Amram and Jochebed, trained in Egyptian culture and learning, further trained in the ways of sheep. Moses’ brothers after the flesh severely oppressed in Egypt, cried out for relief, “cry came up to God because of the bondage”. God remembered his covenant with Abraham and with Isaac and with Jacob… and God acted. Commissioned Moses to take message from YHWH to Pharaoh, gave sign to Moses for encouragement: Ex. 3:12

“So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Moses and children of Israel would worship God on that very mountain where God showed himself to Moses. Theme carried through in message for Pharaoh – “Israel is my son; let my son go that he may worship me”. God intended his people to be Free to Worship him, the true God, no longer worshiping idols of Egypt. God would deliver his people from bondage in Egypt, far more important… he would deliver them from bondage in sin. Could have worshiped true God rightly in Egypt, could not worship him acceptably while in sin.

To worship in way that pleases God, his people must know who he is, what he expects. Much, perhaps even most of knowledge base had been lost during time in Egypt. Needed some pretty basic foundational instruction, starting with ABC’s of worship. Had already been given opportunities to learn few things about what kind of God they were to worship. Were about to meet that God, if all went well they would survive. As introduction to meeting, God would make some things crystal clear… for the good and safety of his people.

Saw last time that Moses by God’s command had set bounds people were not to cross. God is about to reinforce importance of those boundaries. Guard rails are good – keep us in the road. Need them when considering relationship with God. Numerous examples in history, over-compensating for error on one side pushes into error on other side. God too distant, God our buddy. Neither is correct – God not our buddy, but he is approachable… on his terms

A. called to worship v.16-19

summoned by God

had told Moses – “on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people”

on third day, in the morning – not early, not late, right on time… as promised – minor detail, right? yes, and no

in big picture, few hours one way or other not huge deal; but says important things about God – details important to him, keeps promises even in small things so can be trusted in big things

sound of ram’s horn, shofar – not ordinary horn/trumpet, not blown by ordinary individual – way was sounded made people tremble

people haven’t seen God yet, haven’t heard him speak – has only announced his coming, sound gets more intense as God gets closer – see v.19

sound indicating God’s approach enough to make his people shake – this when had good reason to believe God was coming on friendly terms

led by Moses

trumpet called, Moses and people responded as God directed: v.13b “When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”

was not free-for-all, “box store on Black Friday” kind of mayhem – was orderly gathering as people came near, up to bounds

important to notice who was out in front: Moses – the one God designated to bring people near, up to base of mountain

even in this unique sort of encounter between God and his people, he did not allow them to come near him on their own

met by God

some scholars try to find explanation for what is described in natural phenomena – thunderstorm, earthquake, volcano

does sort of sound like those things, is certainly possible, God could have caused those to occur at that time and place

is not explanation plain reading of text provides: ” Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire”

what children of Israel saw / heard / felt was God, not simply acts of nature – he had promised to meet with his people, speak in their hearing – told 2x (v.18, 20) YHWH came down on the mountain

think back to Moses’ first encounter with God in visible form… at burning bush… and what God told him right at beginning

Ex. 3:5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”

don’t come any closer, where you are standing already is holy ground, for no other reason than God was present

same principle at work here – God present on mountain to reveal himself to his people – mountain now holy ground because God is there in his majestic holiness

public dialog

trumpet blast louder as God approaches his people – keep in mind his purpose not to destroy them, rather to subdue them to obedience

again, as promised, God keeps word, speaks to Moses – demonstrates to people Moses only speaking God’s words to them

is important detail: God spoke in hearing of all the people but God did not speak to all the people – spoke to Moses

similar: people were not ones speaking to God – was Moses who spoke, just as earlier (8) had taken people’s words to God

at this time in human history, God was pleased to speak all he had to say to his people through one person, Moses

B. closeness requires consecration v.20-22

Moses called closer

had already spent time up the mountain with God, still waited for God’s invitation – didn’t just waltz up the trail on his own

how many times, how many ways does God need to make clear – audience with God by invitation only, are no gate-crashers

at same time, God does graciously repeatedly invite people to come near – his desire is to be in relationship with people

a stern warning

God not being overly dramatic here – had warned people, set boundaries, God knows need further warning not to violate bounds

is matter of life and death, and that’s not exaggeration – God will under no circumstances allow anyone or anything to violate his holiness

being warned here against presumption – creatures presuming they can approach holy God on own terms w/o consequences

at same time God graciously accommodating himself to man’s weakness – if he chose, could have made entire planet off-limits

instead God confines manifestation of his presence to a limited area – makes possible for his people to actually come near to see and hear

holiness is essential

God’s holiness – his majesty, his superiority – what makes God worthy of our honor, adoration, reverence and worship

because God is holy, means God is good by nature… good in every part of his being w/o exception… and all he does is good

if we consider how we measure up in righteousness and purity… not so good – not righteous / pure in every part, neither is what we do

becomes clear why God has put limits on how close sinful humans can approach him without being consumed

C. terms of approach v.23-25

people can be near

God graciously allowed all people to come within sight and hearing – could see / hear / feel evidence of God’s presence

saw fire, smoke, lightning; heard thunder of his voice; felt ground shaking as “whole mountain quaked greatly”

people had enough understanding by this time to comprehend – YHWH not fire god, not storm god, not god of the mountain

evidences had supernatural qualities about them by which God demonstrated his sovereignty over all of nature… just like during plagues, at Red Sea, water/manna/meat

could actually be nearer than they wanted / were comfortable – Ex. 20:19-21 “let not God speak with us, lest we die… so the people stood afar off”

priests can be nearer

God gave instruction v.22 in anticipation of future event in ch. 24 – group accompanied Moses partway up the mountain… and later in tabernacle service

required during old covenant times much ritual purification for priests to approach God more closely – still were limits

Moses can be nearest

God called Moses / allowed him into most immediate presence, as close as possible for any human being

Moses granted privilege of experiencing enough of God that rubbed off on him – made his face shine, frightened his brother and the people (Ex. 34:29-30)

Have described it, haven’t used the word for it yet – Moses acting as Mediator between God and his people. One who would go between one and the other as Jethro indicated: bring people to God, bring God to the people. We live under terms of New Covenant, not Old Covenant like Moses and children of Israel. Yet we need Mediator just as much as God’s ancient people. God has graciously supplied a Mediator, one far superior to Moses, it is Lord Jesus.

Were limits to how much Moses could accomplish for his people, how close to God he could get… and he could not bring everyone with him even that far. Our Mediator, the Lord Jesus has accomplished all necessary for our redemption and complete salvation. AND, Lord Jesus can bring all his people with him… right up to the throne of grace. He is only one in all of human existence who can do that – only Jesus has purchased the privilege of doing so by giving his life a ransom for those who trust in him. Is only when Lord Jesus is your Savior that you can safely approach a holy God.

 

13. How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?

Matthew 12:29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

Read: Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:20-30; cp. Luke 11:14-26

Matthew and Mark – in Galilee; Luke – in Judea (probably) about a year later

Setting:

some time later than encounter in the synagogue; returned with disciples to Capernaum, Sea of Galilee (3:7)

went to his(?) house, intending rest and food, crowd thought otherwise (12:20); family sought to “rescue” him (12:21)

demon-possessed man brought to him and healed (12:22) – physically and spiritually

crowds begin considering “question of the day” – could this be the Messiah? one element of healing/exorcism powers – intended to validate Jesus as Messiah; cf. Luk 4:18; John 5:36

Pharisees and scribes start whispering, intending to redirect line of reasoning – do not want people to think of Jesus as Messiah

attempting to discredit Jesus in minds of crowd – is mentally ill, under influence or power of Beelzebub (ruler of underworld)

Person(s) being questioned:

question for Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem (12:25, 3:23) – one of series of questions that are combination of instruction and rebuke

Jesus’ example an encouragement to crowds – start with Scripture and think for yourselves – don’t take word of Pharisees/pope as Gospel w/o checking it out

people were reasoning rightly, should have been encouraged; instead, Jesus provoked by Pharisees’ attempt to steer people away from truth

Jesus also draws line in sand for Pharisees (12:31-32) – cross the line into that kind of blasphemy and there is no hope

Jesus challenges Pharisees’ logic – if/then reasoning: if charge is true, how can Satan’s domain continue? is he really that foolish?

Jesus turns Pharisees’ reasoning on themselves – if/then: if charge is true, power behind Jesus’ casting out demons is really Beelzebub, then is not same being empowering Jewish exorcists they sanctioned? (Acts 19:13ff)

third declaration – if/then: if Jesus not acting by Beelzebub’s power, then what? sets up parable and embedded question

Question behind the question:

What is necessary to effectively take territory away from Satan?

Who or what is the only known source of such?

What does that mean in relation to Jesus?

What should we conclude about the “kingdom of God”?

Expected response:

only way to achieve that is through superior power and authority – something sons of Sceva clearly lacked

God the only known source in Jesus’ day or any other era of such power and authority

Jesus must then be acting with power and authority of God and not Beelzebub

Jesus’ point:

if all of this is true, then how does kingdom concept impact Pharisees?

just as Jesus has power and authority superior to Beelzebub, so his kingdom is superior to Satan’s kingdom

and is also true in regard to Pharisees – kingdom they were trying to preserve inferior to one Jesus came to establish

kingdom and covenant go together – Pharisees ideologically bound to Old covenant, Jesus intending to inaugurate New covenant, superior in every way

until Jesus’ day God’s kingdom largely limited to one people – Jews – and one geographical area – Middle East

if kingdom to advance and claim territory in all the world as promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4) Satan must be restrained

Christ’s kingdom an exclusive domain – is either you or the strong man, not both; is either Christ or Satan – is obvious to objective witness whose kingdom is superior

Modern Application:

if Satan must be bound for Christ’s kingdom to advance, at same time, the advance of Christ’s kingdom throughout world restrains Satan by power of Word and Spirit

is work of Holy Spirit opening eyes and minds to spiritual truth found in God’s word that restrains Satan’s ability to deceive

Gospel truth means used by Holy Spirit to deliver individual from bondage to sin and Satan, restraining ability to influence

is presence of Holy Spirit indwelling believer that removes territory from Satan’s domain – the two cannot coexist in individual

couple sub-points: John said “kingdom is at hand”; Jesus said “kingdom has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28), “is within you” (Luk 17:21) – we should not be overlooking present kingdom in favor of future millennial kingdom

if point of parable that Jesus is going about binding Satan, then that sets time reference for Rev. 20:2He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;”

kingdom of God / kingdom of heaven not different kingdoms; not something reserved for Jewish people at some future time

kingdom is now, Satan is bound although not powerless; can and should share Gospel boldly and confidently

 

The Kingdom Is Here, But…

Micah 4:9-5:1

Once through preliminaries, Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry begin with Forerunner, John Baptist, announcing “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. (Matt. 4:17) Jesus continued theme, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15) Instructed his followers to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) Then when Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” (Matt. 27:11) So where is it?

Been conditioned to expect instant gratification; impatient with waiting; avoid discomfort whenever possible; strive to be in control. This whole thing with kingdom that is real but can’t really see it, is already in place but not yet in its fullness, still involves hardship and suffering is tough one for God’s people to embrace… in Micah’s day as well as ours!

As we seek to understand God’s word, promises he made to Israel and to us through Christ, must use caution – Israel’s hope never intended to be in earthly kingdom; that one only a faint image of real inheritance. Must be careful not to encourage wrong hope as government policies have done. People “need” place to live, not necessarily an earthly homeland (Matt. 8:20). Must make clear: hope for anyone, including Jews, found only in Christ. He has inherited all the promises, dispenses them to his people (Gal. 3:15-29).

Spoke last time of time references in Bible – this age / next age; former days / latter days; first advent / second advent. Micah and contemporaries, in former days, looking forward to ushering in of Christ’s kingdom. God would have, in fullness of time, demonstrated that earthly kingdom even made up of His people could not achieve ideal, could not provide everlasting hope. Required a better kingdom with better king, covenant with better promises. Is clear to us now that kingdom promised by God through prophets would be founded on Christ and his work of redemption, would formally begin at his ascension.

And yet… full expression of kingdom is still future, even for us. Must wait for next age to experience it. Meanwhile, have all challenges of this age to endure before kingdom comes in its fullness. Just like Jewish people had to endure humiliation, pain and suffering before Christ’s kingdom came. Micah has declared God’s plan for their eventual restoration; now he warns of rocky road they must pass as they move forward.

A. pain is inevitable v.9-10

light dawns (9)

prophet speaks as though audience finally catching on that really is a problem, but not really sure why or what is all about

uses sarcasm – has leader disappeared, has advisor been removed, what’s the matter, why are you crying in pain

were trying to convince everyone nothing was wrong, had nothing to worry about, all good between them and God, yet…

by mocking them Micah tries to show how trusting in wrong things / people has led them to certain disaster – message they would have thoroughly rejected earlier

another principle at work here: sometimes things have to get pretty painful before sinners wake up to what God is saying

use all sorts of rationalization to avoid God – need to work harder, blame the other guy, redefine terms, outright denial

God will do all necessary to bring about not just minor concessions but precise result he intends – confession, repentance

hope is that once there is change of heart that change of circumstances will follow – I’m being good now, don’t need to be grounded

sometimes is how God works, Nineveh for example; but… they responded to first warning; Israel been deaf to many warnings repeated over long time

have reached point where no escaping consequences for sinful behavior; God may mercifully reduce punishment, rarely removes it entirely

exile is coming (10a-b)

God expects confession/repentance whenever appropriate and without regard for outcome – is the right thing to do no matter what follows

Micah makes plain – should repent from sinful rebellion against God and be thankful God is merciful when he punishes

will experience real hardship – will be homeless, deprived of creature comforts had come to enjoy… and depend on… rather than God

God will “withdraw” some of his protection, permitting their enemies to prevail and cause real damage – to property, perhaps life as well

will not be able to count on God’s shelter and provision in same way as before – would be means God uses to chastise / correct

lessons learned the best come at cost – lost things, prestige, freedoms – all good gifts from God but not seen that way by Jewish people

one of greatest lies they had bought into: we’re God’s people, he won’t let bad things happen to us – can substitute “I’m a Christian,…”

so is deliverance (10c)

important lesson for Israel, for God’s people in general, for parents – when God disciplines, he never takes away hope

God gives assurances – discipline is necessary, will be of limited duration, has a particular purpose, results in blessing

Jewish people need not be hopeless – made plain even though exile in Babylon was necessary and certain, God would not abandon them to their enemies

doesn’t give timetable here, that’s elsewhere, e.g. Jer. 29:10 – would not be perpetual, would be delivered from enemies as surely as were delivered to them

B. God is sovereign v.11-13

foreign nations God’s instrument (11)

Babylon to be ultimate destination but by no means their only enemy – Assyria on doorstep, Egypt would get its licks in too

God made clear to Jews going in – treatment by enemies not outside God’s will for their lives, will be God’s ordained purpose for them

and don’t forget, God had something in mind for their enemies too:

these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says the LORD”Jer. 25:11-12

gives hope for kind of life to expect after exile ends – enemies not given opportunity for payback, God will keep them in their place and protect his people

oblivious to God’s purpose (12)

nations will have no understanding of their place in God’s plan – to be used as his instruments to bring about his purpose

might think that unjust of God – not so when God is indulging their sinful desires, letting them have their own way… for a time

Israel needed to grasp God’s part in all of it, that he was using willing instruments to discipline his people… for their good

as part of their deliverance God would gather their enemies together – would then use his people as instrument of punishment

because of imagery used is easy to think in military terms – conflict may be of that kind, much more likely spiritual warfare in view

Israel restored (13)

not an invitation, suggestion, rather a command as given to Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter – Israel brought back as from the dead

promise given indicates Daughter of Zion will have place of honor and prominence not experienced before

is also clear that restoration/blessing is not to be for purpose of personal gain – any gain to be devoted to God’s use and glory

purpose of restoration to provide conditions necessary for birth and ministry of Messiah as Micah about to reveal (next chapter)

that means this conquering and subduing of enemies has the Church rather than national Israel in view – will be as Gospel advances that governments topple, Christ’s enemies are overcome

all of this will take place according to God’s sovereign purpose and rule – God is one directing world affairs toward conclusion he has ordained, no one or no thing can alter it

C. already, but not yet v.1

promised but still future

ok, back to the present – that’s what will happen, what happening now much different, Israel under siege and won’t change

real promises of real things that would/will happen at God’s appointed time but time is not yet – would be more suffering, humiliation before Israel finally carted off to Babylon

Assyria the world power in Micah’s day, Babylon not an empire yet – things needed to happen for other nations before God would bring Babylon against Israel

once again, Israel would have to live by faith in promises of God – knowing what they were, maybe not personally experiencing

same for us

we live in similar already-not yet scenario as Israel – have been redeemed from our enemies, restored to honor but not fully – must wait for next age

as Gospel and Christ’s Church advances around world, is conquering / subduing enemies in its path but not fully – must wait for Last Day, Great Day

to be participant in all that is promised requires union with Christ – in him alone will God’s people regardless of country of origin receive promised inheritance

important for us all to remember: One who was hope and consolation of Israel is hope and consolation for all mankind

God didn’t deliver Israel so they could experience his favor all by themselves – he intended they should be witness to the nations… and so should we

must do our part to warn of evils of sin and its accompanying judgment along with hope of eternal life thru repentance and faith

what gives courage and confidence: God is sovereign, has a plan and purpose for his people, committed to using us as his instruments to enlarge his kingdom, our future absolutely secure in him

 

Life With God: Preparation for a Divine Encounter

Exodus 19:7-15

Sense of awe largely absent from American culture. Awe: “A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might.” American Heritage Dictionary

Example – when was last time you heard our head of state referred to using his title? Or other heads of state, for that matter! Then are things being said about those individuals both in public and private. Not just sense of awe that is absent, at times little if any respect shown. If people in large numbers so readily display disrespect for individuals they can see and hear, is any wonder God is treated same way?

Might think that’s problem mostly for the unchurched – people who go to church know better, have proper sense of awe… “reverence, respect, dread, and wonder” toward God. Not so fast – at times exact opposite what is promoted. And folks wonder why so many see church as irrelevant.

WSJ article, 05/13/91, focused on up and coming southern megachurch.

Megachurches… offer as much in the way of activities and entertainment as they do religion. The Christianity they do serve up is mostly conservative and to-the-point, stripped of most of the old hymns, liturgy and denominational dogma that tend to bore the video generation. Second Baptist Church, for instance, prefers to call itself the “Fellowship of Excitement,” on signs and in its church bulletins.

“Second Baptist is considered state-of-the-art. …the church looks little like a traditional house of worship. That’s a trademark characteristic of megachurches; they shun crosses and steeples that might scare people off.

“Seven years [earlier], …Mr. Y, who had been called to head a small congregation in a conventional church building already on the property, …envisioned a place “that a totally godless, secular person can come to . . . and not feel threatened.”

I would say this: if that is what they have achieved, then “a totally godless, secular person” will not meet God in that church. How does our text picture God and man’s approach to God? Is worship in God’s presence consistent with Mr. Y’s vision? You might say, “well that is the God of the Old Testament and we’re in the New Testament now.” True, some things have changed. But this has not: God is God, same God regardless of Testament who does not change. God patiently worked through mediator, Moses, to prepare his people to meet with him.

Began with their commitment to obey all the Lord had spoken; Moses received specific instructions from God; then went back down the mountain to get people ready.

A. commitment to obedience v.7-8

covenant initiated (5-6a)

not something people asked for, weren’t looking for it, not result of negotiations between diplomats – was God started it

covenant did not come about without a context – reminder to people: you’ve already seen what God has graciously done for you, therefore

God expected children of Israel to have faith but not a blind faith – had seen/experienced evidence not only of God’s existence, also his providence

one-sided in that God imposed it on his people, yet came with conditions – obey his voice, keep his covenant, God expected response of faith

also included promised blessing for obedience – if you have faith and obey, you will become people God intends them to be

covenant communicated (7)

God revealed plan for people to Moses using words, required Moses to accurately pass along God’s word to God’s people

down the mountain he went, summoned elders – Moses paid attention to Jethro and kept application going, beyond initial situation Jethro observed

practiced full disclosure – Moses held nothing back, no room in future for anyone to say “didn’t tell me that”

what should expect from God anyway – no fine print, no surprises in the details – also expect from one who speaks for God

people’s response (8)

need to be cautious how we view their answer – easy to consider recorded history, how far from perfect or even acceptable their performance eventually

I say be cautious because God never charged them with being hasty or insincere or untruthful – in fact, he accepted response

God knew would fail miserably, was factored in to his relationship with mankind in general, children of Israel in particular

is why they would be given provision for repentance / confession / forgiveness… accompanied by sacrifices all pointing to Christ and his ultimate sacrifice

don’t miss point – people needed to embrace God’s covenant with them in order to access promised benefits; still true – must embrace God’s covenant in person of Christ to have hope of heaven

Moses acting as mediator took people’s response back to God, giving answer on their behalf as their representative

B. serious business v.9-13

people need to hear God (9a)

was essential for people to know beyond doubt – Moses not making things up, was mouthpiece and God the original

when gathered at mountain on third day, would hear God himself speaking, then Moses repeating to them what God said

pattern continued even when people did not hear God directly – would be assured that heard him speaking through Moses

people of God in all ages need to hear God, know when they listen to sheperd are actually hearing faithful rendering of God’s word, God’s voice

sinful people need a go-between (9b-10a)

by God’s design, interacts with people mostly through mediator – Moses going to get his exercise going up/down mountain

even Moses had to meet expectations – take shoes off, holy ground; come and go at God’s direction; Moses had unique relationship with God because of grace and mercy, not merit

and… Moses only got just so close to God – only ones allowed to be in God’s immediate presence without hindrance are those without sin

means we only approach throne of grace through merits of Jesus, wearing his righteousness not our own

God requires devoted clean children (10b-11a)

consecrate / sanctify them – those who approach God must be devoted to him, set apart for his exclusive use

we like competition, God has no interest in it – wants people to put aside loyalties to other things, love / worship him alone

external washing reminder: need cleansing – a holy God rightly requires his people to be holy, expects them to do their part

true, God looks on person’s heart… also sees outside, too! need to be respectfully presentable when we approach in worship

people need to see God (11b)

not a full reveal of God by any means – enough to clearly show people who was visibly present on the mountain

this imagery would persist in minds of those who saw – when Moses said “thus says the Lord”, would remember sight/sound

we are blessed to have full revelation: Lord Jesus – Heb. 1:1-3 God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, …the express image of His person”

God establishes boundaries (12-13a)

no one approaches God except by his consent – is God who established terms of covenant and conditions of approach

purpose of boundaries for protection/preservation of people – permit as close as possible without danger of being destroyed

along with clearly defined boundaries, explicit consequences for failure to respect them… something lacking in today’s world

God announces his presence (13b)

another indication of who’s in charge – come when summoned, at God’s invitation — and God graciously invites sinners

announcement not intended to drive people away, cause them only to dread his presence – awe and reverence and fear, yes, the awe that draws you in closer, as close as possible

C. thoughtful preparation v.14-15

summoned to prepare for worship (14a)

Sanctify them,” that is, “Call them off from their worldly business, and call them to religious exercises, meditation and prayer, that they may receive the law from God’s mouth with reverence and devotion. Let them be ready,Exo 19:11. Note, When we are to attend upon God in solemn ordinances it concerns us to sanctify ourselves, and to get ready beforehand. Wandering thoughts must be gathered in, impure affections abandoned, disquieting passions suppressed, nay, and all cares about secular business, for the present, dismissed and laid by, that our hearts may be engaged to approach unto God

instructed how to please God

instructions God gave Moses then given to elders and to people – how to prepare themselves to be ready to meet holy God

also preparation for receiving message God has for his people, details of how to love God and neighbor, incl. how to worship

involves both external and internal preparation (14b, 15)

needed to go through external rituals that pictured spiritual truth – souls and bodies need to be made ready for God’s presence

also needed to prepare thinking / focus of attention, shifting from things of daily life, this life, to things above; from earthly relationships to relationship with God

implies promise of great blessing

nothing inherently sinful in pleasures of marriage – for God to restrict implies he has something better in store

need little or no encouragement to focus on temporal pleasures, push unseen spiritual into background – need help to refocus

refocus we must, regularly – things of earth only temporary, God is eternal and must devote self to him, recover sense of awe

“Such a view of God’s majesty as Israel were favored with at Sinai is the crying need of our day. The eye of faith needs to see Him not only as our “Father,” as “The God of all grace,” but also as the “High and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” (Isa 57:15), as the “Great and Dreadful God” (Dan 9:4), as the One who has said, “Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance” (Isa 40:15), …Let it not be forgotten that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament is one and the same; He is a God into whose hands it is a fearful thing to fall. May His Holy Spirit so reveal Him to us, as the One to be reverenced, obeyed and worshiped.” A W Pink