Friday, April 22, 2022

2022.04.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 19

Read Exodus 19

Questions from the Scripture text: How long has it been since what (Exodus 19:1)? To where did they come? From where did they come (Exodus 19:2)? Before what did they camp? Who went up to Whom (Exodus 19:3)? Who called him? from where? To whom was he to speak? What two things did God call them? What had they seen (Exodus 19:4)? How had He borne them? Where (to Whom) had He brought them? What two things must they do now (Exodus 19:5)? Then what will they be? Who are His already? What kind of kingdom will they be (Exodus 19:6)? What kind of nation? How does the end of the verse emphasize this message? For whom does Moses call in Exodus 19:7? What does he lay before them? Who answer in Exodus 19:8? What do they say they will do? How much of it? Now Who speaks to whom (Exodus 19:9)? How is Who coming to him? Whom does He want to hear? In order that they will do what with Moses? For how long? What did Moses relay to Yahweh? Now what does Yahweh tell Moses to do to whom (Exodus 19:10)? On what days? And do what? To be ready for what (Exodus 19:11)? Who would come down? Where? In whose sight? What is Moses to set for them (Exodus 19:12)? So that they don’t go where? Nor touch what? What will happen if they do? How won’t he be killed (Exodus 19:13)? How instead? What are they to listen for? Then do what? From where does Moses come in Exodus 19:14? To whom? What does he do to them? What do they do? What does he tell them to be ready for (Exodus 19:15)? And not come near whom? What day is it in Exodus 19:16? What time of day? What three things are on the mountain? What sound do they hear? What amplitude? How do the people respond? What does Moses do to the people in Exodus 19:17? To meet with Whom? Where do they stand? What was happening to the mountain in Exodus 19:18? Why? What was the smoking like? What happened to the mountain? What was blasting all this time (Exodus 19:19)? And what happened to the sound? What did Moses do? Who answered him? How? Who came down (Exodus 19:20)? Where does Yahweh tell Moses to go in Exodus 19:21? To do what? Against what is he to warn them? What would happen to them? Also warning whom in particular (Exodus 19:22)? That they would do what? Lest what happen? How does Moses respond (Exodus 19:23)? And how does Yahweh answer (Exodus 19:24)? Whom does He say to bring now? Whom does He (again) warn against doing what? Where does Moses now go (Exodus 19:25)? And do what?

Nearness to God is dangerous. We just don’t realize the greatness of His holiness, or the position that it puts us in to be “his special treasure” (Exodus 19:5), or “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). So, as the Lord gathers His people to Himself at Sinai (“I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you to Myself,” Exodus 19:4), this chapter anticipates that meeting. And the primary thing that this chapter communicates, in anticipation is just how dangerous it is to be near this God because of just how holy He is. This occurs through the relaying back and forth of a number of messages between Moses and God.

If you obey, you will be treasured, Exodus 19:3-7. Verses 3–6 are a unit, bookended by “thus you shall say” in verse 3 and “these are the words which you shall speak” in verse 6. Moses lays before the elders in Exodus 19:7 the offer made in Exodus 19:5. The offer, however, is something that only Jesus can succeed at. The entire books of Isaiah and Hosea will be about Israel’s failure to be unto the Lord what the Lord brought them out into the wilderness to be. But Hosea will be about the Lord’s rectifying this for Himself, and Isaiah is even more specific: He will send His true (and suffering!) servant to be the true Israel. The offer that Moses relays not only still stands but has been completely secured in Jesus!

All that Yahweh has spoken we will do, Exodus 19:8-9.  Verse 8 by itself is bookended, “all the people answered” and “Moses brought back the words of the people.” The message is simple, “we’ll do it all!” The follow-through is (again) impossible (cf. Joshua 24:19). Once more, the end of Exodus 19:9 repeats “So Moses told the words of the people to Yahweh.” Yahweh promises in verse 9 to come near, in thick cloud, and speak in such a way as to show the people the folly of their resistance to Moses’s leadership. This itself portends how Israel would fail in their promise to do what Yahweh says. They will not be loyal to Him or His servant.

Take heed not to touch, Exodus 19:10-15. With the delivery of the people’s message completed in Exodus 19:9, Yahweh now gives Moses a new mission. “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow… and let them be ready for the third day” (Exodus 19:10-11a). Yahweh is coming on the third day (verse 11b), and even the consecrated people mustn’t touch the mountain (Exodus 19:12) or even touch anyone executed for touching the mountain (Exodus 19:14). And Moses delivers the message (Exodus 19:14-15).

Go down and warn the people again, Exodus 19:16-25. The third day arrives. And it’s just as terrifying in verse 16 as the Lord Yahweh had implied in Exodus 19:9. But there is not just thick cloud; there are thunderings, lightnings, and the trumpet that was to summon them (end of Exodus 19:13) is increasingly loud so that all of the people tremble! The mountain smokes, but that’s not as scary as the Yahweh-fire that produced it, and the mountain quakes greatly (Exodus 19:18). Between the warnings and the phenomena, we might think that the people are sufficiently terrified. Moses sure thought so, but Moses himself wasn’t sufficiently terrified.

We have the last set of bookends in Exodus 19:21-25: “Go down and warn the people” (verse 21) and “Moses went down to the people and spoke to them” (verse 25). Yahweh calls Moses up in Exodus 19:20 to give him a new message. What is that message? Same as the old message (Exodus 19:21-22, cf. Exodus 19:12)! Ironically, Moses’s own protestation in Exodus 19:23 that the repetition isn’t needed is itself proof that it is needed. Moses talks back to Yahweh! The same Yahweh Who has given all of these warnings and displayed all of these phenomena!

In great mercy, Moses is not incinerated. Rather, Yahweh silences him with one word, “Away!” And then repeats the command in Exodus 19:24.

The warning is necessary. God is holier and mightier than can be imagined. It is dangerous to draw near to Him.

When do you come near the Lord? How can you do so safely? Even when you do so safely, how can you do so rightly? In what ways might you tell God that His instructions aren’t necessary?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how holy and powerful You are! And how creaturely and small and even sinful we are! All blessedness comes in drawing near to You, but in our sinful selves, we would be destroyed by Your glorious presence. Thank You for giving us Christ. For His sake, forgive us, and by Your Holy Spirit, conform us to His image, we ask in His Name, Amen!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Abide” or TPH230 “Holy, Holy, Holy”

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