Free files for my fellow student pastors…
As we turned the corner and heard the sound, we knew our lives were in danger. A couple friends and I decided to go hiking and camping in the Tennessee mountains over a July 4 weekend. We hiked up a 2 mile mountain, pitched our tent near the top, and came back down the mountain for a good meal that night with more friends in the area. Those friends warned us about going back up the mountain that night since many bear attacks were reported in the areas at night, so we decided to sleep in the car that night. When we couldn’t sleep, we started driving around. When we turned the corner on the road, we nearly hit a huge, 3-foot-long wild boar. Early that morning, we decided to hike back up the mountain quickly to get the tent. While hiking up and winding around the corner of the trail, we heard the snorting sound of a hog. I remember running like a gazelle down the mountain for the fear of getting eaten alive by Porky.
We finally got up the courage to go back up the mountain, get the tent, and drive home.
In Exodus 19 – 24, Moses writes about an even more fearful camping trip. Israel had just recently left their bondage in Egypt, and they are traveling through the wilderness toward the land God had promised to provide for them. In Exodus 19:1-6, God is reminding them that if they continue to follow Him they will be His “treasured possession.” God is promising friendship with Him. Friendship with God is too often misunderstood. We can’t think of being God’s friends like a buddy, a pal, or an equal. Just like Jesus calls the disciples “His friends,” we are God’s friends in the way of Him sharing Himself with us. That is why we don’t call God our friend. That would be an insult. God is not our friend. He is our God, our King, our Lord!
Isn’t it interesting in Exodus 19 that Moses is the only one who God seems to be speaking to and who can speak back to God? God is showing him and Israel how Holy and unapproachable He is to sinners. Through Christ, we can speak with God in prayer. Moses isn’t our mediator, but Jesus is. Do we understand how awesome this is…that we can pray to the Almighty God? Are we guilty of rushing through our prayers and not speaking to Him in such a way that He is unapproachable apart from His Son’s mediation?
God is displaying Himself as holy, fearsome, and unapproachable through a blazing mountain. The mountain that Israel has come to is the Mountain of God. The mountain has thick smoke swirling around it, and deafening-thunderous blasts that shake the ground. Needless to say, the people trembled with fear seeing the fierce holiness of God. Not only were they prohibited from climbing the mountain, but they weren’t even allowed to touch it – or they would die. Moses reverently climbs the mountain, and God gives Him the 10 commandments there. We can’t fall into the trap of thinking God’s laws are just a list of do’s and don’ts. God’s laws are a way of revealing His character to His people. If they are to be His people, then they must live out His character. The first 4 commands speak directly to our relationship with God. The last 6 commands speak to our relationship with other people. When asked the greatest command, Jesus answered that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest is to love others. He perfectly summed up the Law of God! In fact, Jesus didn’t just sum it up perfectly with His answer, but He also perfectly fulfilled the Law of God for us with His obedient life. God expects every believer to fulfill God’s Law. We cannot. So Christ has done it for us. That is why we believe salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9).
The last thing Moses did in this passage is something that I would get fired for as a youth pastor. Moses read the law to the people, and he sprinkled (covered) them all with the sacrificial blood of oxen (Exodus 24). God never wanted His people to forget that salvation will only come through blood. Hebrews 12 tells us that we have come to Mount Zion to worship God in reverence and awe through the blood of Jesus – an even better covenant of salvation. Is that what your weekly worship of God looks like – a complete reverential awe for who Christ is?