God’s Manifestation on the Mountain, Exodus 19:16-25

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”  -Exodus 19:16-19

God was about to teach His law to His people. For the Israelites were called to be sanctified—set apart—unlike surrounding nations. You may read Exodus 19:16-25 here: Bible Gateway.

(Pinterest) “The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them. But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.” -Deut. 5:24-27

A storm in Scripture often symbolizes God’s power and awesome presence (Ps. 18:1-15; 29; Hab. 3:1-16). Darkness, lightning and thunder, and earthquake and fire manifest God’s greatness.

God’s manifestation on Mt. Sinai not only portrays His holiness, power, and purity, but also the separation that He demands between Himself and sin. The combination of washing their clothes, keeping their distance from Sinai, and witnessing the storm must have left a great impression on the Israelites’ sinfulness and God’s grand holiness. Not only did the Israelites tremble with fear, but Moses also admitted his own fear (Heb. 12:21; Deut. 9:19). And rightfully so, for “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). Only as the people revered God and obeyed could they truly be God’s holy nation and enjoy the privileges of being a kingdom of priests.

Reflect

What does it mean to have “the fear of God”? GotQuestions.org. explains this concept well.

For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). For the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 is a good description of this: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians. This is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Creator of the Universe. (You may read the entire post here: “What does it mean to have the fear of God?”)

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Prepping for God’s Appearance, Exodus 19:9-15

“Are you prepared for what’s coming?” This is the question Prepper Journal inquires on their website. A quick Google search on prepping brings up about 38,500,000 results ranging from emergency food, water, lighting, heating, shelter, gear, etc.

But what about prepping to meet God?

Up to this point, God has shown the Israelites the importance of keeping their part of the covenant by obeying the laws He’s about to reveal. And the people have eagerly agreed to follow God’s laws. Now God has some specific prepping instructions for Moses and the Israelites.

The LORD said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you. . . . Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.’” –Exodus 19:9-12

You may read Exodus 19:9-15 here: Bible Gateway. Verses 10-15 outline God’s expectations for the people as they prepare to physically and spiritually meet with Him. In order to dedicate themselves to God, Moses is instructed to consecrate the people by setting themselves apart from sin and ordinary daily routine.

Warren Wiersbe, (Be Delivered), writes: “The act of washing their clothes helped the Israelites prepare their hearts and minds to meet with God. Washing and changing clothes in the Old Testament is equivalent of 1 John 1:9 and 2 Corinthians 7:1.”

Boundaries on the Mountain

can-stock-photo_csp11158611Suppose a survivalist or adventure seeker—perhaps driven by curiosity—pushed past God’s boundaries marked on the mountain? His/her life would end in death, no matter the amount of prepping he/she did.

Why does God set boundaries on the mountain with such harsh consequences for trespassing?

Wiersbe writes: “The structure of Old Testament worship emphasized man’s sinfulness and God’s ‘otherness’. . . . The emphasis was always ‘Keep Your Distance!’” Those who dared to press past God’s boundaries would display an attitude of irreverence.

God never takes irreverence lightly.

Later, Abihu and Nadab would be killed because they became careless with this principle (Lev. 10). Although Uzzah’s intentions (to keep the ark from falling from the ox cart) stemmed from good intentions, his irreverence resulted in God striking him dead (2 Samuel 6:6-7). Moses’ slip of irreverence (striking of the rock) exempt his entrance into the promised land (Numbers 20:12).

Layman’s Bible Commentary Bible observes: “Irreverence is the by-product of an inadequate sense of the holiness of God. The Israelites do not yet have an adequate grasp of the holiness of God. The manifestation of God on Mount Sinai is a spectacular demonstration of God’s power and majesty. His coming necessitates preparatory consecration, and it also motivates continual consecration, as people could see themselves in the light of His glory and grace (Exodus 19:23).”

Reflect

Both in this age, and in the age to come—when we stand before God—we will either be prepared or unprepared to meet Him.

God taught the Israelites—in dramatic fashion—the distance between sinful people and a holy God. While the Old Testament emphasizes “Keep your distance from God”, the New Testament emphasizes God’s nearness. When God’s Son became flesh and dwelt on earth (John 1:14), He was named ‘Immanuel—God with us’ (Matt. 1:23). Jesus opened a new and living way into the presence of God (Heb. 10:1-25) through His death and resurrection.

This doesn’t mean we are God’s buddies or equals. But our Heavenly Father longs to have a loving relationship with us. Because Jesus paid the death penalty for our sins on the cross, He acts as our mediator to the Father. We can now come directly to God the Father through Christ. When we ask for forgiveness of our sins and submit ourselves to His Lordship, God the Father embraces us as His child.

Maybe you have prepped for earthly emergencies. But have you prepped to meet God face to face? It’s not about stockpiling good works in order to earn eternal life, but rather coming to Christ in faith and submitting to His Lordship. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23).

How can we prep to meet God in worship? What daily distractions do we need to set aside in order to give Him the reverence He deserves?

The Prelude to Israel’s Constitution, Exodus 19:1-8

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  -Exodus 19:4-6

Chapter 19 serves as a prelude to the commandments God gives Israel. The purpose of His commandments, along with the perspective we should have toward them, are also found in this chapter. You may read Exodus 19:1-8 here: Bible Gateway.

I wonder what went through Moses’ mind and heart as he and the Israelites finally reached Mt. Sinai. For God’s promise to bring the people out of Egypt “to serve God on this mountain” finally arrived. This was where God had previously spoken to Moses at the burning bush. And now the Israelites would camp here for the next 11 months.

God’s Purpose for the Prelude

God’s reason for redeeming Israel from slavery in Egypt rings with clarity as He speaks with Moses atop the mountain. In the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 18:18), God promises that Israel will become a great and powerful nation. This blessing is meant to be a channel of blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:2).

Although the ultimate fulfillment of God’s blessing would come through the Messiah’s life, death and resurrection, God purposed to use Israel in the interim. God’s condition? If Israel obeys God’s covenant, as defined by His law, then He will embrace them as His people and pour out His blessing.

Israel would become His prized and chosen nation: a holy nation set apart for God—a kingdom of priests who would act as a mediatory people sharing the way of entering into fellowship with God. (In Old Testament times, people couldn’t approach God directly. A priest acted as a go-between sinful human beings and God.)

Why did God choose Israel? Although He knew that no nation on earth deserves His love and mercy, He chose Israel despite her wrong doing to be an agent of salvation to the world and represent His way of life. Isaiah 60:3 predicted that kings and Gentiles would come to the Lord through Israel. “For salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

A Life of Maturity

(Jason Simpson/flickr photo share) . . . . God desired that Israel no longer be enslaved, but to soar and bless the entire world. Israel’s calling marks a great privilege and responsibility. God’s rigorous training program included discipline whenever the people returned to their comfortable, old ways.

I love how God used the image of an eagle when God gave Moses His words to pass on to the people. (Moses also used this image in a song he taught Israel near the end of his life, Deuteronomy 32:10-12).

As the young eagle grows, the parent breaks up the comfortable nest, forcing the young birds to fly in order to fulfill their purpose. While Israel probably felt that God had abandoned them at times, God was simply stirring the nest so the eaglet would spread his wings and fly. If one falls, the parent catches them and carries them on strong wings.

Warren Wiersbe, (Be Delivered), writes: “The eaglets illustrate three aspects of freedom: freedom from (they are out of the nest, which to us is redemption), freedom in (they are at home in the air, which to us is maturity), and freedom to (they can fulfill their purpose in life, which to us is ministry). True freedom means that we’re delivered from doing the bad, we’re able to do the good, and we’re accomplishing God’s will on earth.”

Reflect

Although this section ends with the people committing to obey God, it didn’t take long for their resolve to melt away in the desert heat. Instead of influencing the nations to worship Jehovah, the nations influenced them to worship idols.

Is there a commitment you have made to God? How is it going?

With Christ’s victory on the cross, God changed the pattern of having to go through a priest to approach God. Now we can come directly into God’s presence without fear (Heb. 4:16). When we’re united with Christ—members of His body—we also join in His priestly work of reconciling God and man (2 Cor. 5:18). Like ancient Israel, we are instructed to point others to God through our words and deeds (1 Peter 2:5, 9).

Have a great week!

The Bible Project’s Review: Exodus ch. 19-40

Hello! I hope this post finds you well and you are enjoying this season of spring. I especially love this time of year, (minus abundant weeds), when everything greens up and new life abounds.

Below you will find the second part of The Bible Project’s review of Exodus, chapters 19-40. Their animated series help me piece Scripture together to see the BIG picture.

Enjoy!

The Bible Project’s Review: Exodus Ch. 1-18

So far we’ve covered almost half of Exodus, (chapters 1-18). I thought this would be a great place to take a breather and review. I find The Bible Project videos both entertaining and informative as they explain Scripture through animation.

I appreciate all your visits, comments, and encouragement. You, dear Reader, inspire me to dig deeper into God’s truth. Blessings and enjoy your Memorial weekend! 🙂