Tag: Free to Worship

Grace Abounding

Exodus 36:8-38:20 

The portion of Exodus describing construction of Tabernacle has an intimidating level of detail. Add to that… it duplicates information already given in earlier chapters. That in itself raises question – at time when written records nearly unknown, certainly not ones that could be easily transported (remember tablets of stone!), why would inspired writer repeat so much detail? Writer doesn’t say, certainly believe that God  expected his commands to be followed to the letter, is precisely what happened.

Amount of detail makes it easy to get so lost in trees as to miss beauty of the forest. Will try not to do that; instead, will endeavor to glean few gems from big picture. Might wonder about sermon title, Grace Abounding. Are in that section of Bible everyone recognizes as the Law. Aren’t grace and law mutually exclusive? Isn’t it either one or the other, not both? Not at all. Remember how God self-identified just 2 chapters ago:

“And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

God didn’t just say it with words, he went on to demonstrate mercy and grace, patience and goodness. Yes, God had given explicit instructions verbally and visually to Moses about constructing and using a worship space. Yet God condescending to accept worship from sinful people is profound and continuing act of grace. God further demonstrates grace by instructing his people to make him a place to live… among them. Then the greatest grace of all, God provides a way for sinful rebellious people to be forgiven, their sin atoned for that they could be reconciled to God.

A. God’s grace in accepting worship

starting place – structure first, working from inside out

inner curtains – sections of tapestry linked together covering  entire inside of the tent… featuring angels pictured on background of blue/purple/scarlet

tabernacle intended to be a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5) – interior decor an intentional reminder of heaven, true sanctuary and dwelling of God

as if God said: want to be as close to people as possible for their good, help them experience as much of heaven as possible

outer coverings – multiple layers: goats’ hair, ram skins, badger skins – practical reasons as well as symbolic in various colors/materials

protection from weather, insulation from heat… at same time not much to distinguish on outside from surrounding tents

glory of this tent to be who dwelt in it, what took place under its protection – worship, fellowship, forgiveness, reconciliation

walls – curtains dark, walls much different – reflective surface, multiplying light from 7-branched lampstand around the outer room

walls served to stiffen / stabilize entire structure, provide way to separate interior into two distinct spaces… Holy Place and Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place

door – veil – two rooms separated but in significant way: not a wall between, not even door that could be barred to prevent entrance into inner room

was only a curtain that separated… sufficient but without destroying sense of nearness, something God wanted his people to experience yet without compromising God’s holiness

then the furnishings

ark – the focal point of Most Holy Place – yes, contained eventually tablets, pot of manna, Aaron’s rod; what gets emphasis in Bible is the cherubim and the lid

numerous references later to God who “dwells between the cherubim” – all those cherubim on curtains reminder not only of heaven, also of cherubim inside Holy of Holies forming throne where God dwelt among his people

the lid would be place of atonement for entire nation one day each year – more on that later – don’t forget, atonement/forgiveness essential for holy God to accept worship from sinful people

table – where showbread, presence bread, would be placed – even today, breaking bread together signifies intimate fellowship

not limited to priests, why there would be 12 loaves of bread – God intended to receive worship from all his people

lampstand – God doesn’t expect his people to worship him in the dark… may not be able to see him, but we can know him

just as lampstand gave light to room, so God gives light to sin-darkened minds… enabling to worship in acceptable way

incense altar – sweet fragrance filled entire tent… including inner room – an offering to God, something any priest could do

followed by the outer courtyard – furnishings, then curtains

altar of burnt offering – a center of action in outer enclosure, directly in line between curtain at entrance gate and curtain at entrance to Most Holy Place

one entering at the gate being invited by God to worship… but not without sacrifice for sin first; and then opportunity for thank offerings, freewill offerings, all regular part of worship

laver – the one answering God’s gracious invitation to worship needs forgiveness and cleansing, washing from sin and its effects

God can graciously welcome worship from his people… but there are no shortcuts – must approach God on his terms

hangings and supports

another reminder: the one who has face toward God in genuine worship has turned away from allure of the world and its idols… leaving all that outside the enclosure

B. God’s grace in giving his presence

inner room in the tent where God will “live”

God intended to dwell with his people… but not put down roots – they were to be on the move, God would travel with them

commitment to being close to his people continually… because God wanted them… and they needed him… close by all the time

place from which God will rule

no hands-off approach for our God, not sitting idly by watching people do their thing – is actively ruling / governing his creatures

outer room a place for fellowship

to not have veil between would have been harmful to people yet… God still close enough so they could hear and feel him

went to next level with Lord Jesus – “the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” (John 1:14) then promised his followers “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

C. God’s grace in providing atonement

through the gate

once again, God not obligated to act as he has – could have kept himself inside walls with no entrance at all for sinful people

instead has graciously not fenced himself off, draws his people to him step by step along path of his design, making provision for them in their weakness

to the altar and laver

entirely of God’s invention, nothing man could or would have come up with – at this time, served as signposts pointing toward future reality known to God but not his people

yet they were more than simple pictures – sacrifice and washing were what God graciously accepted as outward signs of genuine love and sincere worship

showed also God’s commitment / intention to be worshiped by holy people… those who were truly holy inside and out

then the Holy Place

at that time only priests allowed in Holy Place to experience fellowship with one another in same tent with God but… God had something to say about that

you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” – time coming when all true worshipers would be welcome in Holy Place, eventually even in Holy of Holies… once the separating veil was torn in two

Everything about Tabernacle worship was real, God was abounding in grace toward his sinful rebellious people. While it was real, was reduced in scope and intensity until this side of the Cross. Now that Christ’s work of atonement is complete, accepted by his Father, one of his final promises is our reality:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)

Because of Christ’s atonement we can individually and corporately experience God’s presence in us and with us. God’s grace abounds even more as we worship him together without need for further sacrifice for sin, enjoying his presence, hearing his voice as he speaks through his word by his Spirit. God’s grace is truly marvelous, infinite, matchless – O that more of friends and family might come to experience that grace.

God Provides Abundantly

Exodus 35:20-36:7 

The church in recent history on quite a pendulum ride, oscillating between extremes of emotional enthusiasm and intellectual dryness. Neither extreme good for health of the church – strong emphasis on mind and intellect tends to promote doctrine at the expense of love for others in daily practice. At opposite end of spectrum, appeals to emotions and showing love for fellow man often lead to diminished care and attention to sound doctrine. Neither extreme is accurate representation of model found in God’s Word the Bible.

God’s intention is that his people be totally involved in service to him, fully committed – thinking, feeling, doing – for God out of love for him. Several words repeated in our text, are important concepts that deserve close attention. One is ‘heart”, appearing 12x in these verses. As you probably guessed, not referring to 4-chambered muscle of amazing design God has placed in each humna being. Helpful description from Dr. K:

“The heart is a figure of speech that stands for the very core of man’s being, the very radix of his personality, the very hub of his nature, and the very essence of his I-ness. …In Scripture the heart is the spiritual center of the embodied human soul. It is the wellspring from which all of life and its activities originates, takes its cue, and receives its propulsion, spiritual as well as physical. As such it is also the seat and subject of the three internal functions of thinking, willing and feeling. It may neither be divorced from them, nor be identified with them, whether with one at a time or with all of them simultaneously. To do so would unacceptably blur the biblical teaching.” Krabbendam, Sovereignty and Responsibility

When God’s people are committed to loving God with heart, soul, mind, strength and are all engaged in his work, only eternity will tell whole story of what God will accomplish.

People heard God’s message from Moses, went back to their tents. From what is described next, is clear more going on than simply fellow with shining face lecturing crowd of people. Many of those who were there and went away came back different, changed from what they were before. Again, Dr. K, “the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart”.

A. matter of the heart

stirred hearts

more than just emotional response – everyone can identify experience… e.g. 5-Kleenex weepie kind of movie, one of wonders of the world, surprise birthday/anniversary remembrance

think about this – how long did your response to that experience last? what follow-on life-altering decision came from it?

if you are like most, remember it fondly… brag about it to friends… or on facebook… reminisce about it… rest of life stays pretty much same old

to action – not so for Hebrew children: had plans how they intended to use time, talent, treasure… all radically changed, within short time, without whining or complaining

no sales pitches, no robocalls, no roadside signs – went home and then came back with their hands full… of supplies, skills

both way of feeling and thinking changed, was demonstrated by action – no action, no real internal change

by outside influence – not case of talking to self, convincing self to do what was suggested… had already shown natural bent

for desires and choices to be directed away from loyalty to an idol toward something else required action by outside agent

NOTE: much as we desire and encourage friends / loved ones to change desires, choices, that kind of stirred heart can only be achieved by finger of God

willing hearts

to give –  when God is at work stirring up hearts of his people, needs of others take priority – in this case, was need of entire worshiping community, building portable worship center where God would meet with his people

God covered all the bases: gave people awareness of need, supplies to meet need, desire to address need, willingness to contribute toward meeting need

God’s people whose hearts God has stirred motivated by love for God to act because they want to do so – not for reward from God or people but because want to please the one they love, will use any opportunity to show love

wise hearts

to work – some had hearts “stirred with wisdom” – they had particular God-given skills that could be put to work at all stages

those who want to be involved hands-on in God’s work need other than human wisdom to meet expectations God has for his agenda, for advance of Gospel / Christ’s kingdom

NOTE: God’s work must be done in dependence on God’s wisdom if we are to expect God’s blessing – our wisdom not enough

B. and the hand

when advances his program, begins with hearts of his people, engages their minds, accomplishes his purpose through their hands

and… he uses people from all walks of life, all levels of society in his program – leaders and followers, men and women, old and young

generous hands

more than enough – not just a one-time offering, became daily practice: bringing offering continually each morning

didn’t bring little, ask “will that do, is that enough?” – stirred willing hearts are motivated to give lavishly, not foolishly

brought right things to right people to do what God intended, each one generous to extent of his/her ability

had to be told to stop – notice how God worked it out: make the need known, God stirs peoples’ hearts, they give w/o coercion until need is met

the way some Christian radio / TV personalities talk about money, would think every 10 verses in Bible must have something about tithing… hmm, not in my Bible

skilled hands

God lined up workers with two kinds of skilled hands – practiced and potential… those who had already worked in the field, those who had latent ability not yet tapped

already trained – those who had the skills already practiced, used in workplace, necessary for all the different kinds of work

ones who could work to a blueprint – give print with dimensions, specifications, they could bring to completion w/minimal supervision – good work ethic, too

already had tools, brought from Egypt, or knowledge/ability to make tools necessary to make required parts for Tabernacle

desiring and willing to learn – apprentices not singled out but… Bezalel and Aholiab equipped by God to teach others

shouldn’t slide over that point: “equpped by God” – see Ex. 36:1 – ” in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding”

probably all had what we call natural talent, the ability someone has to pick up a tool, intuitively know basics of how to use

but what set these workmen apart – were specially equipped by God for “work for the service of the sanctuary”

working hands

already employed – most described as “gifted artisans”, not professional students – had used their skills, had portfolio, callouses

could have done their part with contributing supplies, lion’s share of their gift to God’s work the labor of their hands

still true about God’s work today – need willing workers to be actively involved, using God-given skills and abilities for Him

knew how to work – far greater problem today than Moses’ time, as each day passes fewer people either know how or have desire to work

is only “natural” since Creator designed man for work, those he calls to do his work will know how (or learn) and desire to work and receive joy from doing good work

C. for the Lord

an offering to the Lord

transaction between individual and God – no one standing there at the collection point giving out receipts, making entries in a ledger… no list of donors published at the end

were not interested in personal recognition, no intention to make comparisons – and remember what Jesus said about the widow… gave the least..and the most

freely given according to heart’s desire… from what they had – gave what they wanted to give without restraint, or much consideration for tomorrow

already knew from experience could expect God to supply adequate food for tomorrow… when tomorrow came

for the Lord’s work

not a spec house – everyone knew worship space to be built because God said so, and he intended to use it to live with them

supplies brought, work done not for personal benefit of any individual involved present or future – entirely God’s work

nor Moses’ plan to leave a legacy – church not immune to such things: Herod’s Temple or Crystal Cathedral e.g.

according to the Lord’s direction

he directed the giving… and directed use of the gifts – from start to finish, was all the Lord’s work… abundantly providing materials, skills, motivation, desires for good of his people and his own glory

empowered by the Spirit of the Lord

necessary at all levels of involvement – from Moses and Bezalel and Aholiab right through ranks of all involved, was work of God’s Spirit – inciting, equipping, empowering his people for the work

God’s work done God’s way in God’s time by the directing and empowering of God’s Spirit will accomplish God’s purpose. Say again. Our task: make sure we are fully on-board – doing God’s work, not our own. His way, not our own. Directed and empowered by his Spirit. Satisfied that God has good purpose.

What Can I Do?

Exodus 35:1-19 

Someone calls your name, how do you respond? in thought if not in word? “What do you want” vs. “what can I do”. Your children always the first, you always the second! Then those times when you hear God calling, you figure it’s because he wants something. Do you wonder what you’ll have to give up, devote energy to that might be second choice. Do you think maybe he’ll want something you do not have or cannot give?

Little one wants to participate, help with what mom or dad is doing. Matt G, car project, 3 yo Avery w/toolbox handing something to dad. Open hand and smile? Too often response is “not now, you’re not big enough….” then 10 years later complain when they camp on the couch with earbuds in doing thumb exercises, room’s a disaster zone…. God doesn’t do that – provides opportunity, expects participation with child-like “I wanna help, what can I do?”

People had sinned grievously against God, through Moses’ work as mediator had been reconciled. Now time to move forward, demonstrate that were no hard feelings, no lingering consequences. God already made expectations known to Moses, in our text Moses declares God’s will to the people. Presented with voice of authority: “These are the things which the LORD has commanded you to do.” Something else equally significant: for everything that God expects, He provides everything necessary to satisfy his expectation.

In text and what follows, see first commandment in action: Deut. 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” God both instructs and equips his children to do that. And… don’t forget – these aren’t suggestions, weren’t understood that way by Hebrew children. Repeated phrases like “the Lord has commanded”, “you shall”. At same time, highlight / underline middle of verse 5 – “whoever is of a willing heart”. Might wonder what all this has to do with us in 21st century – not our job to build Tabernacle worship center like one fabricated at base of Mount Sinai. You’re right, our task to be about building something far grander – Christ’s kingdom that stretches around world in all directions.

Like us, ancient Israelites needed strength for the work, stuff as raw material, and skill to produce what God designed to be place devoted to worship.

A. strength  v.1-3

right priorities

not a stretch: biggest Boss says “get to work” means just that, and… don’t think about stopping till job is done – this is #1, no #2

God leaves no doubt about nature of work week – yes, are to work six days, but only six… not 6-1/2 or 7 days like many try

aren’t to be exceptions for crunch time either – Ex. 34:21 God can supply need even if Charlie Lopresti predicts thundershowers on your hay, frost on your pumpkins… but you gotta honor God’s timeclock

work and rest both essential

number of reasons given for observing one day in seven – Creation ordinance, day devoted to worship, dire consequences threatened for failure to observe

primarily in view here: we are unique beings created according to God’s comprehensive design with innate potential for incredible diversity – how many people do you know, hundreds / thousands, can distinguish w/o labels

not biological machines built like electric motors rated for 100% duty cycle – God makes plain designed us for both work / rest

rest necessary for good work

every wise manager, every good teacher understands – tired workers, tired students do not perform well, not at best of ability

from employer’s POV, quality of product goes down, scrap rate goes up, potential for personal injury increases with fatigue

to be at full strength, to do best work people need rest – not like ’37 Dodge pumper, 5 gal. gas cans, run continuously for several days during 1947 fire, no harm to vehicle

expectation comes with implied promise: when we follow God’s expectations, that one day in seven will supply rest and refreshing God intends… fitting us for work of other six

Song: Give of Your Best to the Master… can do that when we properly utilize God’s provision to renew our strength regularly

and… God wants us to give from strength he supplies to do our best work; does not expect us to give what we don’t have

B. stuff  v.4-9

from what you have

what is not said as important as what is: not go get / make / borrow / buy something to put in the plate, IOU’s not expected or accepted

were expected to take from what they already had, give from that to need for building tabernacle… remember its source

Ex. 12:35-36 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

what did God want? for Hebrew children to give to him from what they had that he had supplied – notice God didn’t ask for money

was stuff they had been given by Egyptians, had packed, had carried with them all the miles from Egypt, what they had personal stake in – not intended to be some kind of arm’s-length commercial transaction

with a willing heart

The root ndb connotes an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice. …sacrifice made out of devotion, not out of precept or promise” TWOT

given because giver wanted to give as an act of love – motivation not one of right/wrong, perceived benefit or payback, simply love… kind of love God showed when he gave his Son

only two parties that mattered: giver and God – not done for benefit of, in competition with, for notice of anyone else

notice, too: no stipulations for who should bring what, no stated expected giving level – God would, through freely given offering of his people, supply right resources in right quantity to accomplish God’s purpose

read ahead, come next week to find out how well that worked

for a range of uses

no surprise, construction project of this design and magnitude had long / varied list of required materials – we read the basic list

included not only materials to make everything according to plan, God’s list covered consumable supplies to get started: oil for lights, oil with spices for anointing, spices for making incense, ingredients for showbread

nothing forgotten or overlooked, no last minute scramble when Tabernacle first setup – and… God didn’t overlook anything months before in Egypt when all first given to Hebrew children

C. skill  v.10-19

no supply house

couldn’t grab latest CBD catalog, start ordering; had not come from culture with things that could be repurposed for Tabernacle

required everything to be both made and assembled on site – only one solution: God must have supplied people with tools and necessary skills to meet need

all “local” talent

not like later Temple, hired help – no provision for bringing in outsiders for specialized tasks, would be accomplished entirely by Hebrew children… “gifted artisans among you

skilled labor just like materials for supply list – to be given freely out of love for God… who supplied skill like everything else

a wide range of skills

participation not limited to select few – aside from Moses, only two others identified by name: Bezalel and Aholiab… too many others to properly credit

think about what would be manufactured: furniture, jewelry, clothing, structural items, and more – all kinds of people with all kinds of gifts would be put to work

Were opportunities for everyone to be involved in service to God at building of Tabernacle. Note carefully how it worked: each gave from love for God out of what he or she had been given by God. Said at beginning: we have far grander task – doing our part to build Christ’s kingdom that stretches around world in all directions. It starts with home, church, community… place where God has put you, skills he has given you, resources he has entrusted to you, strength he supplies you day by day.

Question for each one then is this: given all that, what can I do? What skills do I have and where are they needed? What resources do I have and where can they be used? How should my strength be best directed in service to God because I love him? If your love has grown cold, ask God to warm it up. If your confidence in God has become weak, ask God to strengthen your faith. If you are unsure of what God would have you give, ask God to make it plain. If you love the Lord Jesus, you are part of his body and every part is essential. You have something to give to him.


Moses, Your Face!

Exodus 34:29-35 

Second time Moses spent 40 days on mountain (Exod. 24:18; 34:28). Each time Moses came from God’s presence, Moses was different, he was changed. Is the very nature of encounter man has with God – God never changes but man cannot experience God and not be changed by encounter… either for good or not. One way or another, results of that experience will be obvious, often to others first. How it was with Moses – Aaron, children of Israel recognized difference in Moses before he did.

Moses asked to see God’s glory… was refused. Yet did experience goodness of God, up close and personal, presence of God for 6 weeks. God’s glory grew on him and in him, came to show on outside in dramatic way. Was not permanent, over time glory faded away. Might think God’s glory not something accessible to us, Paul had different idea.

A. glory grows  v.29

couldn’t stay on mountaintop forever – numerous reasons why might want to: what better place on earth to be, soaking up everything possible from God… who knows what talked about between times

had unfinished assignments – much unfinished business with Hebrew children: God’s designated leader for next 40 years, few hundred miles… to get to Canaan

of immediate significance: the two tablets, what they signified for the covenant… and relationship between God and people

and there was worship center – complete plans in Moses’ mind, nowhere else… yet – Moses needed to oversee that project

much as might not like idea, Moses was key to Israel’s “success”… by God’s design intent – Aaron lacked proper character, Joshua lacked experience and maturity… at that time

time in God’s presence preparatory inter alia

first one to benefit from stay on mountain was Moses himself – no child of God can spend time with God and not be better for it, blessed by it, often in ways you can’t put into words

thinking and feeling toward God and fellow man being molded – most helpful for one who would represent God to people, people to God – their survival depended on it, this life… and the next

people would assume much about character of God from how his representative presented Him – would assume much from how representative responded to them

Moses not conscious of all that was happening

pretty typical kind of person in many ways – life experiences used by God to shape us into people we are, don’t think about details of the process too much… while it is happening

am sure Moses did not take inventory on day one, then day forty, check to see what might have changed

certainly true about appearance… had no idea what was different – apparently too attentive to other things to take selfies

certainly did not come down mountain intending to use newly acquired appearance to intimidate or manipulate people

had to call back over after they ran away, probably asked “what’s up?” – response, “Moses, your face! what’s with that?”

B. glory shows  v.30-32

far more than cosmetic difference

not the glow of good health and fresh air enhanced by Product X, Y or Z – not case of good lighting, creative image editing

is not only the result of spending time up the mountain with God – if that’s all it were, would have happened his first trip for 40 days

2nd time up: Moses in different place – greater sense of need both he and people had: need for God, forgiveness, guidance

Moses had different desires – specifically requested more of God and his presence for himself and people – God obviously answered his request… abundantly

demonstrated natural man’s response

fear the emotion identified – people including Aaron not sure about: who person really was, what happened to Moses, what his attitude and intentions toward them might be

would have been similar response if pillar of fire touched down in center of camp – people had desire for distance, didn’t want to be too close to Moses’ God – were concerned mostly for personal safety

without realizing, people making good case for a mediator… again / still – Ex. 20:19 “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

could maybe manage dealing with a go-between, did not really want dealings directly with God – ok for Moses, not for them

and Moses ok to deal with… so long as he wasn’t too much like God – didn’t really want God’s light uncovering their sinfulness

glory for their good, too

cuddle calf 24/7, no joy – little “g” god could / would give nothing of substance – could not lead, protect, provide… not even as much as “real” living calf

if true God represents greatest good, then what he shares of himself with his people must be good – Moses changed… for the better, by time spent with his God – would never happen with their god

that Moses took evidence of God’s favor with him showed God intended his people to share in / benefit from his goodness

C. glory fades  v.33-35

fades with time and distance

not permanent change in Moses or his appearance – brightness of his face not something Moses generated, source as we know: God

ongoing reminder: if people were to need mediator, could really use a better one than Moses – no disrespect to Moses, but… remember who he was, that he foreshadowed / typified Lord Jesus

primary purpose: validate Moses’ message

change in Moses’ appearance intended to cause people to respect Moses because of who he had been with, whose message he was bringing back to them

wasn’t Moses who re-wrote on tablets, was God – message of comfort and hope Moses brought from mountain ultimately came from God himself, not simply something Moses made up

required frequent regular “restoration”

for Moses to continue role as effective mediator, had to be w/i arm’s reach of God – standing between people and God, with his hand on each

only then, when in God’s presence, God’s glory would be restored to Moses’ face – regular confirmation to people was indeed God’s commands he communicated to them

D. glory to glory  2 Cor. 3:18 

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” NIV

believers see God’s glory in Christ and the Gospel

glory appearing on Moses face one that apart from God’s immediate presence was continually fading – Paul envisioned different kind of glory, one continually increasing in clarity and intensity

source of that glory: God who has revealed himself in his written word, most clearly in his Son the Lord Jesus displayed in Gospel

was his goodness that God showed Moses, that made his face shine – God’s goodness shown most powerfully to us in his completed plan of redemption

Holy Spirit removes the veil from our understanding

we see ourselves in mirror of God’s word as we really are – there we also see beauties / glories of Lord Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension

those without the aid of Holy Spirit cannot see that glory, have no desire to see it, when confronted with it will respond as Israelites

glory revealed in written and Living Word transforms

by power of God’s word and ministry of his Spirit, people of God are day by day being transformed into likeness of Christ

transformation taking place in us will be obvious on outside – “Christians stand unashamedly before the world, reflecting in their own lives the glory of Christ beheld in the Word of God. And far from a fading glory, their glory is ever-increasing as they are changed more and more into the likeness of Christ.” Reformation Study Bible

Acts 4:13 “When they [members of the Sanhedrin] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.” NET

Worthy goal for believers in this life: that people of all kinds would be amazed by our boldness and recognize that we have been with Jesus. We have rest of the story… and we have helping ministry of Holy Spirit in way OT saints did not – transformation God brings about in us is to eventually be permanent. Evidence of God present working in and through us to make us more like Jesus to be on increase day by day. Will be finally and fully accomplished on that day when we stand before Lord and Savior complete, able to see his glory in all its splendor… forever!

God’s Special Treasure

Exodus 34:10-28  

Have you noticed how Moses kept asking God for more? in a good way? Started by asking that God would go with them when they broke camp, left Sinai (33:15). Then Moses asked again, not content that God go with them, requested that God go among them (34:9). Kept asking… for more of God’s favor – forgiveness and pardon for horrible offense against God. Then asked for favor of God’s special attention and protection.

“Moses had won God’s promise to accompany the people in their journey, but would He forgive the people for their sins? Would He accompany them like a policeman watching a criminal, or like a Father caring for His beloved children?” Wiersbe

Better way to think of relationship dynamics, one that is fully biblical too! God had taken Hebrew children as his bride. Before honeymoon was over, bride had an affair. Would husband take unfaithful spouse back? If so, on what kind of terms? With what level of trust and intimacy? Would there be full restoration or would spouse come back on probation, under suspicion until had somehow proved faithful again? Moses about to find out. And remember, God speaks here in response to Moses’ final request: “take us as your special treasure”.

If God were to take them as his special treasure, what would God do for them? How would he expect them to respond to his gracious care for them?

A. God works  v.10-11

makes a covenant

no question here – who decides terms of relationship, what kind of relationship it is – is all God’s idea, his doing, no negotiating

notice how gracious God is – did not add conditions to new arrangement because of what happened with previous covenant

what really amounts is covenant renewal – a renewing of previous arrangement… just as if there had been no lapse

result is: bride restored to relationship with full privileges – and… same kind of relationship as before, binding lasting covenant where God commits to doing certain things for his people

NOTE: blessings and curses associated with covenant conditional on people’s behavior – existence of covenant itself not conditional; this covenant remains in force until superceded by new and better covenant

will do wonders

does not expect his people to perform wonders, to work their way back into favor, work at staying in his favor by earning points

is God who will do unprecedented wonders – think about what God had already done, bar already set pretty high

will be things God does in open, for everyone to see – all Hebrew children among whom Moses lived plus heathen neighbors

will be kinds of things that could not be explained in any other way than direct act of God – so much for making them out to be some kind of phenomenon of nature

like all things, God had specific purpose in doing those wonders – designed to inspire awe, prompt both his people and other observers to worship true God

poster child: Rahab – “we heard how the LORD did…. our hearts melted… He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Josh. 2:10-11)

drives out the enemy

surely God will work through means – military strategy, manpower – also bringing nature into it… hailstones, an extra-long day

yet those things not the deciding factor, what determined outcome – fast-forward to Joshua, bank of Jordan River, Warrior

most of description of Conquest of Canaan focuses on the obvious – were greater, largely unseen forces at work only God could deal with: Satan’s opposition to God and his plan of redemption moving forward

greatest danger to Hebrew children not walled cities, well equipped defending armies – far more serious… what was represented by Canaanite idolatry, its seductions

B. people worship  v.12-17

obvious area of weakness

had already shown they were at risk – what they did when Moses wasn’t looking proved that, showed they needed warning to be on guard

big principle here: don’t get relationally close to people who follow competing worldview, will be walking into a trap (snare)

shouldn’t get entangled with heathen neighbors, shouldn’t try to be like them, would lead to drift… gradually influenced

if they could get into trouble on their own, imagine… – yet God didn’t say that, just gave clear instruction how to avoid

what they must do

live victoriously – show by actions that true God you worship and serve has total superiority over all other gods, demolish symbols of heathen worldview

no way they could destroy religious symbols if goal was accommodation / compromise – pursuing that goal would be deadly

were to completely remove things associated with false worship from view, not try to mingle, live alongside

worship purely – were especially not to mingle anything associated with idols and worship of YHWH – were to worship true God alone

devotion to true God allows for no competition, no rivals for affection and loyalty – YHWH expects his people to love him with… everything – heart, soul, mind and strength

what they must not do

were not to be seduced by attractions of heathen neighbors, things their worldview promised – don’t try to play with fire!

God reminds them of consequences of risky behavior – not only seduces them into sinful behavior, gets passed on to next generation – corrupted worship corrupts the kids, too

God made clear he hadn’t forgotten their sin, also hadn’t changed the standard even though he would forgive them – forgiveness not a license to sin again

C. way of life  v.18-26

all day, all week, all year

behaving as God’s special treasure not limited to hours of 9:30 to noon on Sunday – kinda like some other things, it’s way of life

total devotion to God to be part of who we are, how we think, what we do all day every day – for Jewish people: the Sabbath, 6 workdays, feasts 3 times a year

one day, all day, in seven God’s gift to us… rest – an even greater blessing for us because it begins the week… preparation instead of recovery!

all your family

feasts involved everyone, pilgrimage feasts included – Joseph took wife and son with him when he went up to Jerusalem

and… God has a claim to children too – just like in other areas, first of the children belong to God, dedicated to him for his use

if God wants the first one, would expect him to be interested in the rest – and since raising a family includes mom, devotion to God / worship to be a way of family life

and family life in all its aspects should display the character fitting for God’s special people

all your stuff

another way in which God reminds his people that he comes first – the firstfruits of their labor go be given to him… out of loving respect, confident he will make what is left sufficient

thinking and feeling and acting like you are God’s special people means trusting in his character, believing his promises to provide

D. God reaffirms his love  v.27-28

establishes covenant with Moses

way God has been speaking… to Moses, singular pronouns – this covenant first and foremost made by God with Moses as Mediator

if Israel to have any hope of a future, would have to come to them through what’s-his-name, the one God chose to deal with

sound familiar? if we as God’s present-day special people have any hope, must come to us thru his appointed Mediator, Jesus

extends it to his people

God declared while covenant made first with Moses, not made only with him – “I have made a covenant with you and with Israel”

remember who chose whom – God chose his people, went and rescued them, and again, and would continue doing so

sustains his servant

significant detail here – 40 days and nights w/o food or water – can go without food but not water that long

was God showing that since he could sustain Moses that way, he could and would sustain his special people in all their circumstances

God doesn’t want obedience to any of this to come solely from sense of duty, fear, compulsion. God here showing his amazing overwhelming love for his people, desired their response to be one of love, worship and devotion. Today God has same desire – that we, his special people, would worship him, live our lives dependent on him, devoted to him… because we love him. And remember: we love him because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

The Lord Passes By

Exodus 34:1-9 

Continues conversation from previous chapter. Sometimes chapter divisions are unfortunate – break up flow, interrupt train of thought. Moses pleaded with God: “show me your glory”. God responded, explained what could and could not happen. Then God continues – explaining what he intended for following day.

God first declared his intent, including expectation Moses would prepare for what was coming. Then we get short version of what took place on the mountain. Through it all, as God once again writes his Law on stone tablets, his overwhelming grace is front and center.

A. God declared his intent  v.1-4

cut two tablets

Moses did wrong in how he expressed his anger – was right to be furious with outrageous sin of people, worshiping idol under God’s very nose, even causing enemies to turn away embarassed

was not right for Moses to react as he did… breaking first tablets – assuming on his own that covenant with God had been broken

had to take responsibility for overstepping his bounds as mediator, failing to wait for God to inform Moses about their status

I will write

doesn’t leave Moses to wonder any longer – God is committed to his covenant… and once again will put it in writing… officially

God not content to make his people get by with a copy of covenant terms – writes out another original, eventually put in the ark

is clear – people might have sinned greatly enough to justify ending covenant but… God did not intend for it to turn out that way

be ready and come

prepare yourself – have to wonder how much sleep Moses got that night… it all seemed good, safe, but totally unprecedented

about far more than having two more tablets ready by morning, Moses himself needed to be in proper frame of mind to meet with God

good example for us: if we really expect to meet God here in worship and receive blessing from him, is good to begin preparing Saturday night

prepare the people – similar stipulations as in Ex. 19:12-13 but without explicit warning – needed reminder that sinful cannot approach holy God too closely without danger

truth is, cannot be in his presence at all without acceptable mediator… for us, the Lord Jesus and his merits make safe

B. God proclaimed his name  v.5-7

told his name – Ex. 3:13-14

not new information to Moses, had already asked God what his name was… then got the answer back at burning bush

name by itself helpful but only to a point – I AM, YHWH means much to us, we have this account and rest of Bible to help

makes sure there is no question about who is speaking, who is declaring / revealing himself to Moses… and all who read his Word

tells him what it means

what kind of God passing by in front of Moses has the name YHWH and what does that name tell us about him and his character

remember: this is God revealing God, not 2nd-hand – full sensory experience for Moses, hearing / seeing / feeling presence and goodness of God

God declared what makes him good and glorious – telling what he is, not simply describing what he does: God does good because he is good; God loves people because he is love… is his nature

he is:

Merciful and Gracious – compassionate toward people and inclined to show them favor

hold back what is deserved, give what is not deserved – hold back what has been earned, give what cannot be earned

neither one is justice – to give precisely what has been earned – more on that in few minutes

because God is compassionate / merciful, does not give us all what we deserve, what we have earned even with best efforts

instead, because he is gracious / inclined to show favor, he gives what we do not deserve and can never earn from him

Longsuffering – long and patient endurance of offense; showing patience under long provocation; patience: good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence

God doesn’t do things in a hurry – was around for an eternity before making anything outside himself… then a few thousand years between Fall and Cross, now more thousands between Cross and 2nd Coming

means God doesn’t react to things – people do things to offend God, he delays before acting – doesn’t mean he overloooks or ignores offense, he responds in measured way at time of his choosing

Abounding in Goodness and Truth – really the core statement… comes in the middle, is most packed with meaning and significance

goodness = “chesed”, nearly impossible to convey full meaning with one word; best translation here probably “loyal love”, “steadfast love”. Love that continues regardless of circumstances – doesn’t matter what happens, what changes, loyal love never stops, never gives up on other person

truth = “emeth” – sometimes opposite of false; often in Old Testament means “faithful” or “reliable”… true as in trustworthy

abounding = “rab” – full to overflowing, enough for everyone and much more besides – all together now “overflowing with faithful love”

Forgiving Iniquity and Transgression and Sin – another packed phrase describes all aspects of forgiveness necessary for relationship with holy God

iniquity: wickedness, unrighteousness (state) — transgression: intentional disobedience (action) — sin: missing the mark (result)

since God is forgiving by nature, he does everything necessary to deal with problem of our sinful state, the sinful actions we commit, and the effects of our sin

Not Clearing the Guilty – God is just — he gives exactly right punishment for sin. In fact, because God is just he cannot let any sin go unpunished – penalty must be paid… by someone

ties in with God being longsuffering – just because consequences for sin are delayed no indicator that God can let it slide

and all those animals that gave their lives under Old Covenant… showed someday God would send his own Lamb as final sacrifice for sins of his people

C. Moses worshiped his God  v.8-9

no delay – only one response: worship

Moses with mouth hanging open, eyes and ears and mind full to overflowing with God – suddenly realized God stopped talking

immediate posture of worship… nothing else made sense, nothing less would do than bowing in worship before awesome God

effect of grace

humbles – had encountered God’s holiness at burning bush; here is faced with God’s greatness and goodness, how insignificant and undeserving he was in comparison

even for all that, God had actually passed by in front of him, revealing and declaring himself to Moses… and he lived

makes bold – is how God’s child responds to experiencing God, draws them in to desire more of God and his favor

large requests

if I have found grace, bless them – God’s heart showing in his entire request: is asking for more grace for us, not me or them

show your grace by your presence – God’s gifts, as great and wonderful as they are, no match for himself – Moses had experienced more of God than any other living person, still not satisfied

wanted assurance of God’s near presence among them; even God at Moses’ own tent outside the camp not enough

forgive us – includes himself in need for forgiveness; made even more aware by what had just seen / heard how much they all needed forgiveness

Moses had his turn with being stiff-necked, would again in future – convinced risk of God’s anger far outweighed by blessings of his presence to guide and protect

be our God and Father – treat us as your special treasure – ok, request for presence a repeat; request for forgiveness obvious

but “special treasure”? after what they have done to offend God? Yes! a good request, one that God answered favorably

1 Pet. 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

How can God choose us, make us all of this, treat us as his own special treasure? Only because of what his son the Lord Jesus has done for his people. Because God punished his son, he can show grace and mercy to those who trust in him. He can justly forgive them because the penalty for their sin has been paid in full. How should we respond to God and his grace? Worship and love. After all, that is why he has redeemed us from slavery in sin… that we would be Free to Worship him.

More Grace

Exodus 33:12-23 

 Might think, given the circumstances, Moses had come out of tense situation in pretty good shape. People paid dear price for their sin, yet could have been much worse. All but 29,000 survived, Moses and Joshua included. God promised to make sure they found the way to Canaan, would be able to actually take possession of it. God still on speaking terms with Moses, more than that… treated Moses as his friend. Would seem to be good time to quietly accept whatever God volunteered for a deal, smile and not and say thank you.

Moses not content to do that. Instead, kept pushing the boundaries… in a good way, one that got favorable response from God. Not what Moses asked for but still was blessed beyond words. Don’t know how much time passed between God’s command immediately following the plague and this conversation with God. Not a long delay, could have been later same day. Not told where took place, likely at the tent of meeting outside the camp. Moses acting in his role as mediator, bringing needs of people before God, tossed in a couple things for himself too.

A. if I have found grace  v.12-14

you say I have

begins in his “conversation” prayer with God by repeating what God had said… back to him, explaining his interpretation

you said this, I understand it to mean this, if that is true then… this is what I would expect to see / hear / experience, but…

Moses wrote God spoke with him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” yet believes God’s relationship with him goes far beyond friendship – includes measure of obligation on God’s’ part

God has given orders but not sufficient instruction, has indicated close and favorable relationship but not shown it… to Moses satisfaction – “know my name” = intimacy, “found grace” = good kind of intimacy

show me if I really have

Moses struggling to reconcile knowledge with experience – what he knew and believed to be true about God, how his current experience did / did not match up

if God is unchanging and cannot lie, has said that he had close and favorable relationship with Moses, why is he backing off

one likely explanation in Moses’ mind – somehow he had lost favor with God – God not abandoning him but… keeping distance

so… asks for clear reassurance, evidence that things still good between him and God – and btw, this people is your people

notice Moses big goal: “that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight” – continued and closer intimacy with God

had already found grace with God, wants to continue to find favor – iow, Moses wants more grace from God, more demonstrations of favor he does not deserve

here are two promises

once again God relents from his threatened consequence – ok, not just an angel that God would send, his very presence would continue to be with them

first declaration of incredible promise… repeated by Lord Jesus himself: “I will give you rest” – that generation would later forfeit it

yet promise endures – there is a rest that still remains for the people of God (Heb. 4:3, 9)… Moses has entered it, we will someday

not only would God himself go with them, promised rest meant they would certainly reach their destination, would be Free to Worship God as he directed them

B. you have found grace  v.15-17

that’s a given

kinda like Moses had rehearsed his speech, didn’t really register God had answered him before he finished – just keeps going while God smiles at him

strongly implied: if God would not go with them, Moses wasn’t moving – if they were to make it to Canaan, God would have to be present with them all the way

for Moses, nothing else mattered if God’s presence not with them – God present there at Sinai, would not leave his presence without some ironclad guarantees

by relenting in way God did, showed Moses that he had indeed found grace… for himself – but what about stiff-necked people

there must be more

Moses not content either for himself or for people he represented to be treated by God same as everyone else in the world

to Moses, God’s presence the distinguishing characteristic – that alone what set those people apart from all the rest

sure, was clear evidence of God’s special favor but… even that by itself not enough – Moses wanted something more concrete

Moses wanted self and people clearly identified as God’s people – wanted all the other “people who are upon the face of the earth” to know they were different

two questions to ask: Both individually and as church family, what evidence are we looking for that God is pleased with us?

Do we individually and as church family want to be distinguished from the world, and if so, how?

we still have a relationship

God responded graciously, gently, compassionately to Moses – yes, still on good terms; you are an effective mediator and friend of God in close relationship with him

because God is gracious, he would grant Moses’ request… both for himself and on behalf of entire people group

Moses an Old Testament type of Christ, mediator of old covenant as Christ is mediator of new covenant – yet Moses was mediator with limitations

could not plead any merit of his own when seeking favor from God – depended on God’s grace and mercy for results

could approach God only so closely, could only experience limited portion of God… and was not satisfied

Moses’ desire: to know he had found favor with God, that he was in covenant relationship with God, that God would be his friend, that God would continue to be gracious to him… and his people

C. I will be gracious  v.18-23

I want more of you

as if Moses thought: “I’ve come this far, I’m not turning back now, I’m going for the gold” – had 40 days face to face with God on the mountain, wanted more

could not care less for anything world offered, “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt”

suffering for sake of God and his Gospel an incomparably greater treasure than all wealth of this world – if that is so, if reproach for Christ is great treasure, favor from God must be even more so

Moses wanted more of God’s favor but what he wanted most was more of God – greater intimacy, greater knowledge, closer friendship, more fellowship

yes, comes sort of with more time spent; more to it than that, requires that God display more of his Being in way we can see

I’ll give you more

on my terms – God did not rebuke or ridicule Moses, continued to respond graciously to Moses’ request, but on God’s terms

just like any other request – God answers in his way and time, always consistent with who He is, his character and nature

he would give Moses more of himself, but not exactly as Moses requested – would display and declare his goodness for Moses benefit… and countless generations since

good to remember: God is by nature gracious and compassionate but… his grace and compassion not automatically dispensed on everyone – is God who decides

for your good – God not being stingy, not negotiating with Moses, is truly being gracious and compassionate – to grant Moses’ request would harm him, would not be a good gift

even when we ask for what seems to be good thing, God always gives what is for our good… to limit of our capability

you must be sheltered by the Rock

God promised to give Moses as much of himself as he could, at same time protecting him – could be within arm’s reach of God… so long as he was sheltered

we, too, can come within arm’s reach of God so long as is the Rock, Jesus himself, who spans the gap between us

is also in and through Lord Jesus that we can… for now… experience God’s goodness, see God’s glory

When Moses confronted with depth of fellow Israelites’ depravity, what was his desired solution? To experience more of God, more of his grace, his glory. When Moses wanted evidence of God’s favor, identification as God’s people, was God’s presence with them that he craved. May we do likewise: seek to experience more of God and his presence with us.