Friday, April 07, 2023

2023.04.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 33:1–6

Read Exodus 33:1–6

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does Yahweh speak in Exodus 33:1? What does He tell him to do? With whom? To which land? Whom would He send before Moses (Exodus 33:2)? To do what? What sort of land is it (Exodus 33:3)? But what (Whom!) will they not have? Why not? Who heard this (Exodus 33:4)? What kind of news did they consider it to be? How did they respond? What did they refuse to do? Why (Exodus 33:5)? What had Yahweh said about them? What had He said that He would not do? What does He tell them to do? For what purpose? So what does Israel do (Exodus 33:6)? Where? 

How should people respond to material prosperity without spiritual prosperity? Exodus 33:1–6 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that material prosperity without spiritual prosperity is such a pitiable condition that the one who is in it ought to mourn. 

There is a great miracle of grace in these six verses. The people who had just been unrestrainedly (cf. Exodus 32:25) giving themselves to self-indulgence of pleasure (cf. Exodus 32:6) now grieve over the idea of having material prosperity alone. 

The Lord is still promising them a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 33:3a) that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 33:1). But now that He says that He will not go up in their midst (Exodus 33:3b), the people actually grieve. What a mercy; such a spiritual response certainly did not come from them! May the Lord grant to us to value His presence, to value spiritual prosperity, so much that we would consider it piteous and grievous if we were to prosper in all other ways but lose fellowship with Him.

The putting off of the ornaments at very least indicates that they refuse to celebrate or be celebrated if they will not have the Lord Himself. These particular ornaments are “cousins” to the golden calf (cf. Exodus 32:2–3), and the verb for stripping them in Exodus 33:6 is the same as used for “plundering” the Egyptians in Exodus 3:22 and Exodus 12:36. They are recognizing that they have been as wicked before God as the Egyptians had been and that they deserve the same end.

This brings the “that I may know what to do to you” into sharp contrast. For, the Lord shows them mercy. Not because of anything in them (they deserve just as the Egyptians did). He just displays mercy. 

How do your habits show the relative value that you place upon material prosperity vs. spiritual prosperity? What is revealed by the way that you have responded to when you lost the sense of the presence of God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us enough sensitivity toward You to desire Your presence. Forgive us for the self-indulgence in which we are often happy without it. Go with us, we pray, throughout all our life in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee”

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