Life of Moses
A Most Divine Wedding Covenant: Part VI: The Divine Groom Finally Makes His Awe-inspiring Appearance…
Introduction: As a kid, I was afraid to be alone at our church at night for fear God might talk to me. It was so bad, that if God had spoken to me, I would have no doubt, peed in my pants. I was that scared. I think I had seen a movie where God had spoken to the lead character and called him to a ministry, and I was afraid he might do the same to me. I also knew all the Bible stories of how God spoke to people. What if he chose to talk to me? I was in fear of God.
How often do you really think about being in the presence of the Almighty Creator of the Universe? Ever? Or because God is invisible, is it frequently more out-of-sight-out-of-mind with respect to the Almighty Creator?
If God exists… (Note: I feel as if I am blaspheming writing these words) how can we become so desensitized to his constant, ongoing presence?
But if we did believe that God does exist and that Christ has died to atone for our sins, and that we have the active presence of God, via his Holy Spirit within our lives, everyday 24-7, how can we act and live so contemptibly foolish with respect to presence of God?
What if we were there with Israel before the very mountain of God, witnessing his mighty thunder, lightning and smoke and hearing the trumpets blaring? Now, in-sight, and therefore, in-mind, would our perspective with respective to the active presence of God change? In what way? And why?
General Introduction: Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to their forefathers seven centuries before. Their journey has not been without its problems. Having overcome food, water and leadership issues and a threatening military foe, God’s people have reached his mountain – -the same place where Moses was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt.
The Bride, Israel, having ritually purified herself and refrained from having sexual relations with each other, via her leadership, approaches her Groom’s mountain and prepares to take her vows — the covenant.
Pray (Ask God for insight…)
Read Passage several times…(if more than 12 verses, I would read only twice).
Ask Questions (with No Answers)
18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.
Who was sounding the trumpet? And why a trumpet? And why did the mountain smoke, and was this related to the thunder and lightning? I mean why did Yahweh reveal himself surrounded within these seemingly intimidating forces of nature?
19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”
Why did they feel that if the Divine spoke to them they would die? And what made Moses a safe mediator? Did any of this have to do with sin or uncleanness?
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”
So what was the test—to see if they would not respect these fearful forces of nature…to see Yahweh as not some other man-made god or idol that some respected and perhaps even worshiped, but others doubted? What was the sin—to come close to the mountain? To not revere God? And why would this reassurance reassure Yahweh’s timid bride?
21 So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven.
23 You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves.
What does he repeat the initial vows of the covenant here?
24 You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.
But this is what you are to make—a simple earthen altar by which to offer real offerings and sacrifices. So wherever they are to go, they will offer sacrifices to their God, Yahweh, and in so doing, Yahweh will come to them and bless them?
25 If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.
Why not cut? Why uncut?
26 And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.’
Why no steps? And what is their “nakedness,” and why would ascending steps “expose” this nakedness?
Who? all the people, Moses, LORD (Yahweh), God, ME, My Name, other gods, gods of silver or gods of gold…
Where? Stood at a distance (from the mountain), may remain with you, stood, Moses approached the thick cloud where God was, from heaven, 0n it (the altar), in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you, on it, to My altar, on it…
When? and when the people saw it, then they said to Moses, while Moses approached, then the LORD said to Moses…
• The collective bride or people, upon witnessing the thunder, lightning the smoke and hearing the sound of the trumpet accompanying Yahweh’s presence upon the mountain, out of fear, choose to stay back from the mountain and instead beg Moses to be their mediator between God and themselves.
• In turn, their mediator, Moses, seeks to reassure them that they need not fear death because they are in the presence of the Divine, but instead their being allowed to witness the Divine’s awe and splendor is to protect them from sinning or violating the laws or covenant that they are about to enter into and ratify with their Divine.
• Thus only Moses approaches the thick cloud that surrounds the presence of their Divine.
• Their Divine then through Moses reminds them that they not only have their witnessed their Divine’s powerful reality, they are not to make or worship any other gods. Their worship is to be an exclusive one.
• And what will this worship look like? Upon a low altar of uncut stones they are to sacrifice burnt and peace offerings of sheep and oxen, and in every place where Yahweh’s name is revered, Yahweh will be there and bless his faithful worshipers.
Summary… Realizing that the Groom she is marrying is the Divine, the bride suddenly fears death, but her mediator reassures her that her Divine Groom’s intentions of partially unveiling his glory and splendor is only meant to protect her by instilling in her a respect and caution for the covenant, along with its laws, that she is about to enter into and ratify with her Divine Bridegroom. The Groom then, by means of the mediator informs the bride how she is worship or enter into his presence, so that she may be blessed by his providential blessing and presence. She is to offer burnt and peace offerings of sheep and oxen on a low altar of uncut stones.
Bottom line… A fearful national bride not only meets and is in awe of her Divine Groom, through a mediator, she learns how she is to enter into and enjoy his providential presence and blessing.
Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)
• We have little clue to just how great and awe-inspiring is the glory of the Divine. We have Scriptural glimpses, just enough to trigger our imaginations. But the Creator who caused the galaxies to come into existence, as well as, the amazing mircobiology of the cell, are you kidding me—glimpses of splendor, enough to protect us from utter and immediate annhilation, but at the same time, also cause us to remember just who it is we are worshiping in order that we might pay attention to and honor or value the covenant we have entered into with him and that covenant’s accompanying values and laws, or moral constants.
• That we can even enter into the presence of the Divine is amazing. To be in his presence and not die, but instead live, and live enough to learn, if we so choose to…learn about our Creator and his eternal value system and in so doing, be embued with an eternal Spiritual value that ultimately allows us to safely and securly share in the Divine’s great power, glory, awe, love, truth and splendor forever.
• That just as Moses served as Israel’s reassuring mediator, so both the Son and now the Spirit serve as the church’s divine mediators in order to allow us to both dwell and experience the presence, peace and power of the Divine via our New Covenant in the Son.
• That God desires a significant, but simple and authentic worship. Israel’s worship was not characterized by all the elaborate or immoral ritual and tradition accompanying most other religiously contrived deities and idol worship. Instead, Yahweh asks for a simple altar of uncut, almost untouched stones. Just simple stones. And upon this altar, offer something real, but not human—an anmial of value..a sheep or oxen…as a burnt or peace offering before God. Offer these sacrifices to me, and I will remain with you and bless you.
Last Week’s Abridged Application…
Thanksgiving…Not only did I get to experience with my bride a powerful, Spiritual renewal of our covenant, but my heart and soul were just as refreshed from… living and driving 3-D within my Creator’s magnificent creation. Amazing. I get the principle of regularly getting alone with those with whom one is in covenant with. It is everything…
Struggle…Now that I have been to the mountain top, both Spiritually and literally (within the Rockies), it is a transition of sorts back to the daily grind…
Truth…Loving God is loving others and vice versa; both are vital; both are connected; both keep you on your toes, especially within an evil, self-leaning world and existence….
… now based on the New Covenant that I have with God through his Son’s sacrifice, am I, via the Holy Spirit, learning what it means to truly love or be Spiritually attracted to others as Christ as was attracted to and sacrificially poured out his life for his own, including me (John 13-17; 1 John)?
Application…God, help me be sensitive to what you want to do through me or with others. I am your servant. There are times, I want to do what I want to do or what I think I need to do, but really, in the end, I truly want to die to my own, instinctually-flawed, self-centered approach to living life. … I’m thankful for your Spirit and my mentor/teacher, who again and again and again, teaches, reminds, exposes, convicts, reveals to me and encourages me in my journey to love YOU and your people as you love and/or attracted. I am a work in progress.
Continue to teach me to trust you in that journey and not become afraid or uptight when things don’t always go as I would like for them to, but to trust you that you are in charge and that you want to and will show me the way as I prayerfully seek your presence, truth, power, hope, love and guidance IN THE MOMENT where life is lived. Teach me not only how to be exclusively intimate with you, but how this worship translates into relating to fallen human beings. Amen.
This Week’s Update and Thanksgiving…God has been very gracious to me since returning from mine and Rhonda’s 4,000+ mile drive-about the Great Southwest. He was certainly gracious to me last Sunday when I had no clue what I should teach. I had about 6-7 choices. Finally, as I got up to teach, I made a choice. I feel it was a good choice.
This is a day that Yahweh has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24. We read the entire psalm in context. It’s about God’s deliverance. The psalmist is rejoicing because due to Yahweh’s deliverance, he is entering through Yahweh’s gates in righteousness. The psalm was sung by pilgrims coming to Jerusalem during his three annual feasts.
The NT writers interpreted v. 22 as a foreshadowing of Christ’s first and second comings and deliverances, both Spiritual and eventually physically or nationally.
Thus as saved members of Christ’s family, we can quote, claim, sing, pray this psalm and verse every day, and when I have no clue as to what my day holds, as was often the case during our trip, as well as, this particular Sunday morning, this verse has become my prayer as of late, and, in turn, it calms my heart…because this is a day that Yahweh has made—my salvation from sin and evil is secure and ongoing, and therefore, I will rejoice and be glad!
My Struggle…Finding and trusting the delicate balance of my job or ministry. You can never camp out too long in any one task or ministry area. You have to be a jack-of-all-trades and maintain nimble feet at almost all times, and then trust that you are doing the right thing with all this flexibility.
Truth…While being in the presence of Almighty God, just as it was for Israel, ought to be, can be and is a frightening experience for an imperfect, often-times flesh-driven sinner, such as myself, because of what the Son, God’s mediator, has done for me in dying to atone for my sinful nature before God and what the Spirit, who intimately knows me, continually does for me in constantly encouraging and convicting me as well as, passionately and prayerfully, interceding on my behalf before the Father, I need not fear the Almighty. Instead, I can come into his presence with joy, enjoy his friendship and love and receive his comfort, encouragement, wisdom, help and hope at any moment of any day. I am not alone, and I need not fear. I have God. Amazing.
Application…In my constant search for ministry balance, because of my Mediators, the Son and the Spirit, I can prayerfully approach the smoking mountain, thunder and lightning and sounding trumpets of the Divine’s presence and be secure in the fact that I will not die, but instead through his Spirit, receive his help and truth. That’s a big big big deal.
Your student’s struggles?
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.