Tag: Free to Worship

Remember the Sabbath – Part 1

Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15

The Sabbath – to keep or not to keep, that is the question… for some. For most, not even on the radar. For those who do have opinion, is often strongly stated and perhaps firmly held. No big surprise, although believe all of Bible is word of God, not everything in it applies to us. You didn’t bring ox or lamb or turtle dove or grain with you to church this morning! Reason: some things God expected only temporarily, until what they represented took place. Have already encountered that in Passover lamb – a temporary sacrifice until Lamb of God was sacrificed… once for all.

Pretty much universal agreement among those who believe Bible to be word of God that murder and adultery and stealing and lying and coveting are things God expects all people in all time to not do. May be difference of perspective on how all those apply in particular situations, but still apply. And of course idols and false gods and dishonoring true God always wrong. Honoring dad and mom, well that’s good thing, tough to do but God does expect it.

Then there’s that pesky 4th command and now folks start to take sides. The others restated in NT so they apply, this one no. The Ten given to Israel, we’re not Israel so they are not binding on us. The nine: moral commands, primarily issues of right / wrong, 4th is ceremonial like all stuff about sacrifices and priestly garments. Is that right understanding of Law of God as given in Ten Commandments?

When you consider Bible has similar things to say about both God and his Law, there is probably a better perspective. God is good, so his Law. God is holy, just, truth, perfect, light, not burdensome, love, righteous, pure, spiritual, unchangeable, eternal. Can readily see God’s Law is mirror, reflecting God’s nature and character. When God’s Law becomes our rule of life, we reflect proper image of God. Not a stretch to believe that it all applies, maybe even to all people at all times. If evidence shows commands in force from beginning, confirms rightness of view.

In relation to our text: what is command, where did it come from, what is purpose, how should we as people of God seek to keep it?

A. what is command

remember

don’t be oblivious – get so focused on today is easy to forget what tomorrow is; so focused on what’s at our feet or in front and forget to look up

associated with “do” (Num. 15:39), “keep” (Psa. 103:18) – to remember more than simple mental exercise, must be accompanied by action / obedience

observe

pay attention to what is expected – if are going to observe special occasion, think about details, plan ahead, make sure expectations are properly met

think about what you’re doing – should not be case of all days the same, one like next, follow habit/routine – should all be different one day out of seven… because God expects it

anticipate what is promised – since was God who marked calendar off into weeks, made one day special for his use (blessed and sanctified it), should be some benefit for those who rightly observe it

keep

day isn’t automatically holy, won’t stay that way by itself – is holy because of how it people use it, kinds of activities pursued

requires attentive effort to “keep” it, iow to keep setting it apart as holy – requires using other six days according to God’s plan so seventh can be sanctified

B. where did it come from

well known in Moses’ day (16:27-29)

shouldn’t have been surprised at Friday/Saturday food delivery details – gather enough for two days on Friday, plan ahead

may not have been observed any better than today but was not new concept, esp. since 7-day cycle for man is practically inescapable – communists and others have tried and failed

first week of creation

God’s justification for Sabbath day here and repeated in ch. 31 specifically tied to creation week, God’s actions

would not go back to creation if were new command at chapter 16 – would have said “like I told you when first gave manna”

let’s be reminded about creation ordinance: see Gen 2:1-3

God’s action toward day 7 is what establishes weekly structure of calendar – sun & moon define days, seasons, months, years (Gen. 1:14) but not weeks

Creator’s example

made man / woman, gave them mandate… were to be God’s vice-regents, managing creation as God would – next thing God did… he rested

obviously not set apart for rest for God’s personal benefit – God has no need for rest, whole idea of time (days, etc.) has different significance for eternal God not confined by time

if not for God’s benefit, must be for good of mankind – God showing by example rest from labor even before sin is essential

Jesus said: Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” – by God’s design, 1 day must be reserved for holy purposes

 

GOD

Characteristic

LAW

Luke 18:19

Good

Romans 7:12

Isaiah 5:16

Holy

Romans 7:12

Deuteronomy 32:4

Just

Romans 7:12

Deuteronomy 32:4

Truth

Psalm 119:142, 151

Matthew 5:48

Perfect

Psalm 19:7

Matthew 11:30

Not Burdensome

1 John 5:3

1 John 1:5

Light

Proverbs 6:23

1 John 4:8

Love

Romans 13:10

Exodus 9:27

Righteous

Psalm 19:9

1 John 3:3

Pure

Psalm 19:8

John 4:24

Spiritual

Romans 7:14

Malachi 3:6

Unchangeable

Matthew 5:18

Genesis 21:33

Eternal

Psalm 111:7-8

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The Third Commandment: No Cussing?

Exodus 20:7

Couple weeks ago took bit of detour to underscore importance of having right understanding of Bible – what it is (God’s word), why important (sufficient rule of faith / practice), how relates to us (authoritatively). Group or individual that gets answers wrong headed for certain disaster. Example:

“The language of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, rooted in scripture and creed, remains an indispensable anchor for our efforts to speak faithfully of God. When secured, an anchor provides both necessary stability and adequate freedom of movement. If our lifeline to the anchor is frayed or severed, the historic faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic church risks being set adrift. With this anchor in place, however, we are liberated to interpret, amplify, and expand upon the ways of speaking of the triune God familiar to most church members. We are freed to speak faithfully and amply of the mystery of the Trinity. We may cultivate a responsible trinitarian imagination and vocabulary that bears witness in different ways to the one triune God known to us from scripture and creed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (“The Trinity: God’s Love Overflowing”, 2006, line 330-338)

Spiritual well-being of 2.2 mil. active members hanging in balance! Do words matter? If not, might as well go home! If so, ought to be paying close attention to what God has said in his word. Not only informs minds, transforms lives when applied by Holy Spirit. What should transformed life look like? Have basic principles before us in present chapter – since YHWH is our God who has brought us out of world into his family, delivering us from bondage in sin, then we should in response live in light of what comes next.

To summarize God’s commands this way: no cussin, no lyin, no stealin, no cheatin, go to church, mind your ma and pa, overly-simplistic, even for children. Make into list of rules, do’s and dont’s just like religious leaders of Jesus’ day; frankly like many of our own day. Miss most of significance and relevance by doing that. Since our God is YHWH, has revealed his name and his character to his people for their good.

What does God want to be called? Who can decide what to call God? Has he named himself? How do we know? What does he expect us to do with his name? God’s word the Bible does have answers, don’t have to be trained theologian to figure it out. Anyone with reading or listening comprehension and aid of Holy Spirit can know what God has to say. Practicing it in daily life… that’s another story!

A. God reveals himself by his name(s)

what does he mean by name?

names are significant – people in modern messed-up world get it, not always right but still have some grasp of principle

naming of sports teams and mascots; buildings; roads; idea of brand names, agonizing over names for children, outrage over calling other people names (bullying)

re: God’s name… pray about it – “hallowed be thy name”; sing about it – “glory to his name”, “praise the name of Jesus”, “bless his holy name”; read about it – “men began to call on the name of the LORD” (Gen. 4:26)

more than a label

God identified himself by name to Moses: read Ex. 3:13-15 …Elohim of your fathers, what is his name? I AM, as a name: YHWH

is by the name YHWH God would be known and remembered – obvious things revealed: self-existent (non-burning bush), holy (sandals), covenant (God of fathers)

The name of God signifies in general “the whole nature of God, by which He attests His personal presence in the relation into which He has entered with man, the divine self-manifestation, or the whole of that revealed side of the divine nature, which is turned towards man” (Oehler)

more than one name

if God truly is all YHWH communicates, takes more than one word to reveal all there is for us to know about God

two primary names used in relation to God at burning bush: Elohim, YHWH; God himself adds another in 34:14, Jealous

YHWH, Jehovah, LORD #1 in the list – almost 7000x, the name God assigned himself and expects his people to use

name equivalent to person

when came time for clear instruction about his name, God had in mind far more than some letters or sounds in particular order

Lev. 22:32 “You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed (sanctified) among the children of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you,”

Deut. 12:5 “But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.”

is sense in which name = person: “hallowed be you”; sing about it – “glory to the LORD”, “praise Jesus”, “bless the Lord”; read about it – “men began to call on (worship) the LORD”

the way name is treated = way the person is treated – honoring name honors person, dishonoring name dishonors person

B. God’s people reveal God by wearing his name

they wear his name

word means: take as in to bear, lift, carry – includes but is not limited to speech, way more than that involved in taking name

used to be common practice – two people got married, wife would take last name of husband, became part of her identity

and, all the wife did in every part of life reflected for good or ill on her husband… because she had taken his name

those who claim to belong to God wear his name – profess faith in Christ, identify as Christian, member of Christian church

by using his name

in oaths – what is thought of first as being covered by command: oath of office, in court of law, other circumstance where God called to witness/hold accountable

how the one taking oath follows through on commitment shows how they think about God, faithfulness, honesty, integrity

in common speech – conversation about / reference to God and things closely associated with him

don’t have to use YHWH or one of the other names to be talking about God; applies regardless of who are talking to

includes our response to what others communicate about God, whether in person or not – TV, movies, music, facebook

by speaking for him

God doesn’t mind…, won’t hold it against you…, well you know God…. – too many folks quick to put words in God’s mouth

for one who is known as follower of Christ, what they approve / affirm can be interpreted as ok with God

by their reputation

Jesus’ words to Sardis – “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” Rev. 3:1 – had a reputation for something

the one with reputation is perceived as an example – whoever knows you to be a Christian thinks you represent / reflect God

C. The Christian’s task is to reveal God accurately

wearing/using his name reveals things about God

tell our young people – be careful who you hang out with; guilt by association, birds of feather, etc.

thinking is if person claims to be child of God, part of family of God, must be like God… at least family resemblance

not far from truth: Rom. 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

even says: Gal. 3:27 “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

taking God’s name, putting on Christ, what does that reveal about God to those around, saved and unsaved

3 versions of revelation – written word, living word (Lord Jesus), his people

B.I.B.L.E. – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth – umm, not exactly: is God’s written revelation of Himself to the world

includes teaching about God’s redemptive purpose in Christ, includes teaching about how to live pleasing to God

first and foremost, is infallible inerrant word of God revealing God to us with complete accuracy

living word also revelation of God to the world – the one by whom God has spoken, who is perfect representation of God

just like written word, is perfectly and completely accurate revelation of God and his character

then comes third version, people of God, accuracy of revelation takes big hit, God’s reputation suffers

must be true to the original

no question about written and living word – are both true to original source in every way; does not relieve people of God

whoever is going to take name of God and use it, wear it, must not do so carelessly – marriage ceremony: “marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.”

D. God takes his name seriously and so should we

command is to not take name thoughtlessly, in empty way

applies first to one considering commitment to Christ: Jesus, instructing followers on nature of true discipleship – Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it;”

for one who has already “put on Christ” – consider how you are wearing him: thoughtfully, carefully, giving him preeminence in all things, in all of life

must not think, speak or act to misrepresent God

character and actions must model character and actions of God insofar as humanly possible at all times in all situations

an impossible standard, you say – absolutely correct, apart from power of Christ supplied to us by indwelling Holy Spirit

for sure applies to wearing name of Christian

when we take the name of Jesus with us, must do our part in dependence on him to bring honor to him by how we wear it

likewise applies to body of believers

not only individuals who have responsibility, is duty of church family as a community to represent God accurately and well

Day is coming when Lord Jesus will return, claim all earth’s kingdoms as his own and delilver his kingdom to God the Father. Phil. 2:9-13

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

The Second Commandment: No Idols

Exodus 20:4-6

Religion: recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny. Worship: how recognition of the existence of a god or gods is displayed. In the first commandment worshipping a false god is forbidden; in this, worshipping the true God in a false manner. Watson

This command, the second one, is the one most often and most flagrantly violated in the church today… across the board whether evangelical or not. This tells what defines how we are to think about God, then how we act on our concept of God. YHWH, one who delivered Hebrew children from slavery in Egypt, who delivers all his people from bondage in sin, does not leave up to us to figure out, to decide those things. God does not give us that liberty.

Basic principle is this: true God has revealed his truth in particular ways that are to define our image of God and how we worship him. Hebrews begins with that foundation:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Heb. 1:1-3

We have written word, the Bible, and living word, Lord Jesus that give us both the data and rules for interpreting the data God has supplied. Our conception of God and our worship of God is defined by word of God – how we think and what we do must be consistent with what YHWH has revealed to us.

Perhaps you think that too strict, we shouldn’t need to be limited in that way. Go back to the Garden – God said to Adam and Eve “don’t eat”. Eve saw that the fruit was good. When Eve acted according to what she saw instead of what God said, she instantly sinned. We are just as much at risk as Eve, just as dependent on what God has said, we deviate from that at our peril.

What then does this command reveal to us about God, about ourselves, how should we live in light of it?

A. God is jealous

see Ex. 34:14 “(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),”

distinct from all false gods children of Israel acquainted with – when describing God, an intense love that tolerates no rival

most times we experience jealousy is negative thing, often connected to pride – God’s jealousy is function of his love

was because he loved his people that he delivered them, revealed himself to them, gave commands to them – all so they would know how to properly return his love

for his honor

includes his person, his being – God’s glory and his person are inseparable: the Son is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person”

anything that takes away from glory of God, diminishes his honor, is sin against God; same is true for anything that fails to adequately represent God and his glory

two different kinds of problem in view here – using something for worship in place of God, a likeness of something created; the other, an image of God

one takes away from God’s glory and honor by giving what is due him to another; the other by not fully representing true God

keep in mind: only God fully knows what God is like; man is absolutely incapable of representing God accurately with any kind of image, made or imagined

on this side of hinge of history and Ascension, honor and glory of Lord Jesus at stake too… since he is “brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of [God’s] person”

for his property

God knows and history proves – worship of right God in wrong way leads quickly to worship of wrong God – read Deut. 4:11-20

God has good of his people in mind – wants what is best for them, does not want them to come to harm

some of greatest evils imaginable came on children of Israel as result of their devotion to other gods – hardship, famine, disease, loss of life, true God’s blessings squandered

God committed to blessing his people so long as they strive to obey, promises awful curses if they do not obey – Deut. 28

remember, too – God’s hands not tied, he is not powerless to act… and he does to guard faithful followers from evildoers

for relationship

remember: said God’s jealousy a function of his love – read 1 John 4:8-12 – see connections there between vertical / horizontal

God loves his people, showed love by redeeming them, expects them to follow his example and love Him first in response

vertical comes first – love for God, demonstrated in love for brother and neighbor – if love for God is present, so will the rest

B. We are fickle

in our thoughts

already addressed issue of worshiping false gods in 1st command – here in view worshiping true God in wrong way… begins with how we think about God

unlike what Aaron said about gold calf, images don’t magically appear out of thin air – start with concept in person’s mind

can easily imagine all sorts of things about God – what he looks like, how he sounds, way he moves and relates to people

however concept person has about true God deviates from what has revealed / declared in Bible violates God’s command

Jesus, Samaritan woman – John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

how many times: “I know what God said but I like to think of it / him this way” – started with Adam and Eve, continues

to think of God in terms of created things dishonors him; to think a created being can adequately represent Creator is foolish, dishonors God

in our actions

thoughts start process, govern actions – right thinking leads to right acting, wrong thinking leads to wrong acting

is only few short steps from wrong image of God to wrong actions toward God – an image pictures God as finite in some way, having limitations

leads to people taking charge of particular areas of life – God won’t mind if…; society is different now, we can…, God will…

there you have it – whether made of wood or plastic or electronic bits or some other form, have set up an idol even though may have YHWH’s name on it

in our emotions

things we can see / touch quickly attract our devotion – give love and allegiance to what is not God, sin against him

when we love a god who winks at our sin, are serving an idol, directing action and emotion in ways God has forbidden

are to love true God in response to his love for us, then demonstrate our love for God by showing love to neighbor, brother

all of this is of vital importance: God not fooling around – says consequences of false worship extend to great-great-grandchildren

at same time: blessings of God-honoring worship, faithful obedience will be poured out lavishly on thousands

C. We should

how to do our part so we receive God’s blessing, not condemnation

start with God’s word

if we believe Bible “is the only sufficient, certain, and infalliblerule of all saving Knowledge, Faith and Obedience”, LFBC, I.1, God’s revelation of himself and his will to mankind, must be our go-to source

the God we love, honor, obey, worship must be God as he has revealed himself in the Bible – don’t have to fully understand it to believe and obey

the way we love, honor, obey, worship God of the Bible defined for us in the Bible – all we need to know graciously revealed by God himself for our good and his glory

stay with God’s word

must not fall into trap of adding to or taking away from God’s word – taking word or practice of people as having equal weight as Bible

“look at what they’re doing over there – kids coming, people responding, we should do that”; experts, polls, scholars… influence conception of God and how we worship

then those who try to explain things contained about God in his word – rational arguments, logical inferences, going way beyond boundaries of Bible

The whole Councel of God concerning all things necessary for his own Glory, Man’s Salvation, Faith and Life, is either expressely set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added” LFBC, I.6

trust God’s word

remember whose word it is – word of “God, who cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2) – is just as trustworthy as the author, has same authority as the author

means we can follow God’s word safely and confidently – God has no other expectations than what he has already declared

when we worship God as he has revealed himself and in the way he has prescribed, can be certain God is pleased, will accept our worship

worship the Living Word

want to be sure you’re doing it right? love and worship the one who is “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature”

Lord Jesus is one given by the Father to be head over all things (Eph 1.22), the one at whose name “every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:20-11

Came as a child in the manger but didn’t stay there. Grew up to be our example, teacher, Redeemer… God in the flesh paying penalty for sins of his people that they might have eternal life. No longer in the manger, no longer on the cross, no longer in the grave, now at right hand of the Father, ruling his people, worthy of our praise and worship.

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.

 

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.

 

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