Friday, June 19, 2015

Reading 10: The Big Ten

Exodus 19:16-20:21

Our scene opens up with a display of power. God isn't just a man with a long white beard but a powerful spirit. Mount Sinai is consumed with the fire of the presence of the Lord and smoke fills the air. The sound of a ram horn fills the air and gets louder and louder. The Lord doesn't just speak but it says He "thundered his reply" (Exodus 19:19). The people are frightened of the powerful display. God is a frightening being but the good news is that He is on our side.

God calls Moses to climb up the mountain and so Moses not only climbs a mountain, which is difficult enough, but he does so with smoke billowing around him trying to reach the peak where there is a raging fire. He finally makes it to the top and God tells him to go back down and warn the people not to come near the mountain or else they will die. You can understand why Moses might be a little annoyed that he had to climb all the way up this mountain to be sent back down. He says that he has already told the people that but it is important for them to realize the holiness of God. They cannot possibly stand in His presence for it will kill them. So Moses climbs back down to warn the people.

Upon returning to the mountain Moses receives the famous ten commandments from God. Now I won't go through all of them but here is a handy (pardon the pun) trick to remember them or you could listen to someone rap about them. Jesus wraps them up into two commandments: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39). By loving God you are doing the first four commandments and by loving your neighbour you are following the final six commandments.

The Ten Commandments were a way for God to temporarily fulfill His promise to Abraham that his offspring would be a blessing to all nations. If Israel were to follow God's Law then they would love God and one another and also anyone who was to join their nation. These kinds of things were not happening in the land they were to take over. It was full of murder, stealing, and terrible sacrifices (children). God wanted to remove this evil and replace it with a God-honouring, one-another-loving people.
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Israel is obviously afraid of this fire mountain that is billowing smoke and thundering a voice at them. Moses explains this display of power from God to them, "Don't be afraid...for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!" (Exodus 20:20). This is a display of what God's wrath is. This is the wrath that He has for the people currently living in Canaan, the land Israel is heading to. They have done terrible, terrible things and for that they face God's wrath. He is kicking them out and putting Israel in but if Israel does the same as they had, reject God and His law, then they will also face God's wrath.

Israel ends up continually breaking God's law causing them to be exiled and then return, and then be exiled, and then return again. The Law was never meant to be the permanent process of restoration of mankind but shows us just how much we need forgiveness. We cannot ever be good enough to receive forgiveness and God knows this, the law is to show us that this is true. God still has an ace up his sleeve to restore mankind.

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