Monday, February 19, 2024
The Lord said to Moses, “Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, and go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up[a] to a land flowing with milk and honey, but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned, and no one put on ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.’ ” Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
This week we have the opportunity to read two important chapters in Exodus that reveal who God is to us. These chapters correspond with a sermon series that Pastor Paul is sharing called, “Essentials.” This past Sunday, Pastor Paul preached about what is essential to know about God.
These six verses are a poignant reminder of the human capability to ignore and even resist God, and an illustration of how God stays faithful even amidst a terrible situation.
At the start of this story the relationship between God and the Israelites were literally broken. God had given Moses two tablets that contained what we call the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments reflected the covenant between God and the human race. Moses received them on Mount Sinai.
When Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Israelites acted horribly. They created a golden calf and worshiped that calf. They substituted God for a graven image. When Moses saw what happened, he broke the tables that contained the 10 Commandments. The sign of the covenant was now in pieces.
God did not leave the people in their brokenness. God told Moses to gather the people and to continue on their journey to the Promised Land. God was faithful to the covenant that God initiated even though the people were terribly unfaithful.
What is essential about God? God is faithful to us even when we as humans act horribly or do things that we know are wrong.
Tuesday, February 19, 2024
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord[a] would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.
This is a powerful story of God’s presence coming to earth. God’s presence was part of the pillar of could. Two verses are especially important to know.
“When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses.” Verse 9
“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Verse 11
These verses illustrate the desire of God to be in relationship with humans. God extend the divine self to talk to Moses to even be a friend with Moses. God is more than an awesome, incredible force. God is personal who wants to be in relationship with humans.
This personal dimension of God extends to us as humans. God wants to be in relationship with us. This incredible, dynamic force of God wants to be personally known by us.
What is essential about God? God is personal and wants to be in relationship with us.
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider, too, that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”
The Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have asked, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord,’ and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one shall see me and live.” And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
Moses wanted something from God. He needed to be assured that God’s favor was with him, so Moses asked something quite dramatic. Moses asked the following, “show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight.” Exodus 33:13.
His request is a form of prayer as prayer is communication with God.
God listens to Moses request and responds to it. In reading the story we get the sense that God really didn’t want to show the divine ways to God. But this was something that was important to Moses and God listened.
This characteristic of God is available to each of us. God is willing to listen to us. God is interested in our most fervent pleas. God might even go a different direction than what it seemed that God was going to do.
What is essential about God? God is a personal force that listens and responds to our fervent pleas.
Thursday, February 22, 2024
The Lord said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and do not let anyone be seen throughout all the mountain, and do not let flocks or herds graze in front of that mountain.” So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tablets of stone. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name, “The Lord.” The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
And Moses quickly bowed down to the ground and worshiped. He said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, my Lord, I pray, let my Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
Because of what Moses had asked, God descended and proclaimed the identity of God to Moses. These verses are some of the most important verses in the Old Testament.
The verses are worth memorizing.
The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving inequity and transgression and sin.
We can take seven phrases that describe God from this verse
Slow to Anger
Abounding in Steadfast Love
Keeping Steadfast Love
The end of these verses are worth exploring. Their explanation is nuanced. But simple point is God takes our failures seriously. It matters to God. And the failures of families are passed on through generations. Not because God is punishing future generations. But in our humanity failures of families are passed on.
What is essential about God? God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, faithful, keeping steadfast love, forever.
Friday, February 23, 2024
He said, “I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth or in any nation, and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
“Observe what I command you today. See, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a snare among you. Rather, you shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles, for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, someone among them will invite you, and you will eat of the sacrifice, and you will take wives from among their daughters for your sons, and their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods.
“You shall not make cast idols.
“You shall keep the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.
“All that first opens the womb is mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem.
“No one shall appear before me empty-handed.
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even in plowing time and in harvest time you shall rest. You shall observe the Festival of Weeks, the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.
“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven, and the sacrifice of the festival of the Passover shall not be left until the morning.
“The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.
“You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”
The Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
In these verses God renewed a covenant with humanity. The use of the word “covenant” is significant. A covenant is more than a contract. It is a binding agreement that expresses the divine commitment from God to humans. This binding agreement will never stop. God displayed that even though God was terribly disappointed by what the people had done that God was still willing to make this binding contract with humanity.
Imagine how hard it was for God to do this.
Think of a time when you have been terribly disappointed in something that someone did to you. It would have been much easier to remain upset with that person compared to stay in relationship with that person.
This is the decision that God had to make. God chose to stay in relationship with the people.
What is essential about God? God is a force that makes a binding contract with humans.
Saturday, February 24, 2024
Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face, but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off until he came out, and when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining, and Moses would put the veil on his face again until he went in to speak with him.
After receiving this covenant and coming down from the mountain the face of Moses was shining. His face literally displays the mark that God’s presence had made on him.
Moses would never be the same because of what he experienced on Mount Sinai. The complete pathos of God that he had experienced was a light that was shining out of him.
God’s light was visible everywhere Moses went. Moses had to put a veil over his face because the light was so strong.
What is essential about God? God shines the divine light into all of our lives.