Friday, April 29, 2022

2022.04.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:1–2

Read Exodus 20:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks (Exodus 20:1)? How many of these words? Whom does He declare Himself to be (Exodus 20:2)? Whose does He declare Himself to be? From what place has He brought them in order to bring them to Himself? From what condition has He brought them in order to bring them to Himself? 

God is terrifying. That was one of His main points in chapter 19, and though we may come to Him safely and even boldly through Christ (cf. Hebrews 4:16), it is no less true about Him now that He is a terrifying, consuming fire(cf. Hebrews 12:18–21, Hebrews 12:28–29). 

Considering the terrifying leadup to our passage today, we want to know the right response to such a God and such a display of His power and glory. Here, we see at least six: heed His Word, honor His servants, worship His Name, embrace your covenant relationship to Him, persist in your repentance, and depend upon His power for your persistence.

Heed His Word. “and God spoke all these words, saying.” After a display like in chapter 19, you take seriously whatever God does next. And what God does next is speak. This is His own preferred way of communicating Himself and displaying Himself. Psalm 138:2 says “for You have magnified Your Word above all Your Name.” He makes us to see no form but rather to hear His voice (cf. Deuteronomy 4:10–15, Deuteronomy 4:24). We should respect the sound of His Word like we would the sight of His glory.

So, believe everything He teaches. Obey everything He commands. Come with reverence, submission, adoration, and intent to every time you read, pray, sing, meditate upon, hear read, or hear preached His Word. And we must teach our children to do the same and teach their children in the same way (cf. Deuteronomy 4:14).

Honor His servants. In Exodus 19:9, Yahweh had said that one of the reasons for speaking to Moses in the hearing of Israel was so that they would believe Moses forever (implying whenever Moses spoke God’s Word). Now, in our passage today, that moment has come. Yahweh is elevating His servant before the people (cf. Joshua 3:7, Joshua 4:14).

This is not just for pastors and elders but even parents. Hebrews 13:7a commands respect for those whom the Lord has given us to teach us authoritatively, but it does not use one of the New Testament words for the teaching office in the church. God, Who gives conduct-transforming faith by means of His Word (cf. Hebrews 13:7b), does so through parents just as much as through elders and apostles (cf. 2 Timothy 3:14–17). Like Christian congregations with their ministers, Christian children should honor their parents not only with respect for their position but especially as the word-speaking servants of God, whom He has given them.

Now, for ministers and parents both, those who are appointed speakers in the Lord’s behalf must resist the temptation to crave admiration for themselves. This would be in the same vein, but infinitely worse, than the best man at a wedding trying to allure the bride (cf. John 3:27–30). But, let the messenger seek that honor that will help the listeners hear him gladly, because it is by God’s Word on his lips that they who are the Bride hear the Groom!

Worship His Name. “I am Yahweh,” the Lord begins in Exodus 20:2. He had revealed Himself to Moses on this mountain before, and had revealed His Name in some detail (cf. Exodus 3:13–17). He is the alone eternal God, the uncreated Creator. He is not defined by other aspects or entities; rather, He gives definition to all. And He has revealed Himself especially by covenant, as the God Who takes certain people to be His own covenanted people, and to whom therefore He is their own covenant God. He has introduced Himself as a consuming fire, and begins by declaring His Name, so let us reverence and adore that Name!

Embrace your covenant relation to Him. The Name is glorious: “I am Yahweh.” Therefore, the identification is wondrous, “your God.” If He is the independent I AM, Who is over all and defines all and undefinable by any, is it not truly amazing (mind-stopping in its magnitude) that He proceeds to identify Himself with creatures? And this marvelous identity will take bodily form in the incarnation!

Some think that it’s gnat-straining to quibble about saying “my God” as an exclamatory throwaway. But the fact that He is “your God” to His people is one of the great marvels of Scripture, one of the great marvels of all reality. So, considering it to be gnat-straining is itself a violation of the third commandment! 

Rather, we should rejoice that He is ours. And fulfill the obligations of being a member of His corporate people, since He is ours. And reject all incompatible allegiances, since He is ours. And value as small by comparison all other blessing and honor to the blessing on honor of having Him as ours. And be and live holy, since He is ours. And hate all sin and unholiness, since He is ours. 

Persist in your repentance. “Who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” At the time that He says this, Egypt is not a great power. It is a ruin (cf. Exodus 10:7). It is a display by its destruction that all that opposes God in pride must also be destroyed (cf. Exodus 18:10–11). The cries of the Israelites (cf. Exodus 2:23–24) have been replaced three months ago by the great cry of Egypt (Exodus 12:30). But as we have already seen, it is one thing to get the Israelite out of Egypt, but an altogether different thing to get Egypt out of the Israelite (cf. Exodus 16:3, Exodus 17:3). 

Now God makes a new display of His greatness and glory and reminds them that He has brought them out of Egypt. He is not just saying that He has brought them out of what the Egyptians had been doing to them, but also that He brought them safely out of what they deserved to have God do to them. Is this not true of us? When He reminds us of that from which He has saved us, isn’t He calling us to live in the manner for which He has saved us?

Romans 6:20–22, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”

Romans 13:11–12, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

Depend upon His power for your persistence. “Out of the house of bondage.” If Egypt was too strong, against whom they were powerless, then how much more powerless they are against sin! And yet God is about to declare His moral law to them. How can they keep it? Because He speaks to them as One Who has already saved them. He speaks to them as One Who has brought them into covenanted union with Himself as their God. He speaks to them as One by Whose power they are enabled to live in the way required of them as His people.

For whom ought the greatness of God to be most terrifying? For whom ought the greatness of God to be most strengthening and gladdening? How much has your life been a responding to the greatness of God? What means has He given you by which to live more consciously as a response to Him? What use are you making of those means?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You and praise You that You have spoken to us, revealed Yourself to us, made Yourself ours, and redeemed us. Forgive us for living in response to so many lesser things rather than in response to these great realities. And by Your own redeeming power, grant that Your Spirit would complete the work that You have begun in us we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP5 “Listen to My Words, O LORD” or TPH5 “Hear My Words, O LORD”


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