2012-2013 – The Year of The Bible
The third section of Exodus, Chapters 20-40, complete the journey of Israel from slavery, to redemption, to worship. As we begin this section, note the context of worship. Worship is a response to grace. Following the remarkable deliverance from the Egyptians, Israel gathered at Sinai, the mountain of God, where Moses climbs to the presence of God and receives the 10 Commandments. Note the opening sentence of Exodus 20:1-2. Before giving any commandment, God reminds them how he delivered them from Egypt, an event of grace. Once that context is established, he gives the summary of the Law in the form of the 10 Commandments, divided into 4 commands about relating to God and 6 commands about relating one to another. Now, take special notice of the response of Israel in 24:1-8. As Moses summarizes the revelation from the LORD that instructs Israel how to live, they respond with one voice, “All the words that the LORD has spoken, we will do” (24: 3). Again, “All the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient” (24:7). Here is the reminder that worship is more than an occasional experience of singing and praying but is essentially a lifestyle of obedience. Thus the pattern of worship is established – grace; then, in response, worship with a lifestyle of obedience.
But as central to the Bible as the 10 Commandments are, we must understand that they have a function other than being the means of personal transformation; they do not have the power to free us from sin. Rather, they, along with the rest of the Law, remind us that not only do we sin because of the fallenness of the human heart (there was murder, lying, adultery, etc., long before the giving of the 10 Commandments), but now there is sin as the result of breaking a specific command of God. In fact, the Apostle Paul makes the point that the purpose of the Law is to convince us of our need to be forgiven of sin, both inward and outward. (See Galatians 3.) But we don’t have to wait for Paul to learn this truth.
Following the giving of the 10 Commandments, God calls Moses back to the mountain where he outlines the design of the Tabernacle, the place where God will display his presence on earth and call Israel to corporate worship. But the people grow impatient with Moses’ long visit with God. They commission Aaron to build an idol – an intricate statue of a calf overlaid with gold – and they set themselves to idolatrous partying. Their self-centeredness is exposed by their longing to return to Egypt. Their rebellious disobedience is exposed by breaking the first two commands just given by God.
The next concept learned from Exodus is the need for a mediator in order to be forgiven of our sin. When Moses descends from the mountain, he enters into his personal mediating role by praying that God would forgive the people of this grievous sin and keep his promise that he made with Abraham. (Remember that in Part 1 we discussed how Moses points us to Jesus, the final mediator of sin.) Once again, the grace of God is displayed and, once again, God’s people are given an opportunity to respond in worship.
The remainder of Exodus is given to the actual construction of the Tabernacle, the center of worship. This structure is portable, which enables it to go wherever Israel goes, in order to be a constant reminder that God is “slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin (34:6). But God also reminds them that he does not leave the guilty unpunished (34:6). Someone must pay the penalty, which leads us into the heart of the Book of Leviticus.
- Read Romans 12:1-2. How does Paul remind his readers that worship is more than an occasional time of singing and prayer?
- Read Romans 7:7-12. Summarize Paul’s argument that explains the purpose of the Law.
- Read 1 Timothy 2:5. Just as Moses mediated God’s forgiveness for Israel, Jesus mediates God’s forgiveness for us. Bow in prayer right now and thank God that he gave us Jesus, who forgives us for (name any sin that comes to mind.) Now worship him today by walking in obedience.