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Exodus 19:16-25; The Awesome Presence of God – Not Without a Mediator

06/26 Exodus 19:16-25 The Awesome Presence of God; Not Without a Mediator

Saved to Worship

As we’ve seen so far in the book of Exodus, we are saved to worship.

Exodus 8:1 … ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.

God promised Moses:

Exodus 3:12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Serving is synonymous with worship. When Pharaoh was trying to set the terms of the Exodus, he wanted them to leave their cattle behind as collateral so that they would return.

Exodus 10:25 But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 26 Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the LORD our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.”

The service to God that they were preparing for, the service to the LORD, was the service of sacrifice and offerings, service of worship.

Any act of service to the Lord is ultimately an act of worship, because any service we perform for the Lord that is pleasing to him is done, not because we have something of value to offer to God, but because he has been so undeservedly gracious to us that what he has given to us we can reflect back to him in worship.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

Romans 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

This same language of service or worship is used in the next chapter in the context of not bowing down to false gods:

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

We are saved to worship. God in this chapter will put his own glory on display in such a way that we will see that he is worthy of all our worship. He is worthy of our service of worship. He is worthy of all our affection, all our devotion. He is worthy of all that we are. To him alone be glory forever.

Prepare for Worship

We are saved to worship. But we must prepare for worship. Meeting with the living God is no light matter. God is dangerous. Proper precautions must be taken. Boundaries must be set. Those who attempt to force themselves uninvited into the presence of God must be put to death. God is to be taken seriously. In verses 10-15, God demands that Moses take two days to consecrate the people, and prepare them for this encounter with the Most High. God says:

Exodus19:11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

God is going to formally introduce himself to his people. Remember, God has already poured out his undeserved grace on them. He delivered them from bondage. He has been caring for their every need. He has been their protection, and their source of all good things. Now, God is entering into a covenant relationship with his people. He is going to manifest himself in a visible way unlike any other.

Remember, this is a visible manifestation of the invisible God. God is putting his glory on display in a way that will communicate something of the truth of the awesomeness of his limitless being, just a glimpse of who he really is.

The Fear of the LORD

Exodus 19:16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. …

This is an awesome display of God’s glory. Trembling is the appropriate response to God’s presence. Remember, this is the God who makes something out of nothing. He created all things visible and invisible (Col.1:16) He holds up the universe by the word of his power (Heb.1:3). He spoke galaxies into existence. He breathes out life. This is the God who will cause the sky to be rolled up like a scroll (Rev.6:14). Trembling is the appropriate response to this great God. In this passage, both the people and the mountain itself tremble at the presence of the most high God.

Isaiah 66:2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

When Moses recounts this event in Deuteronomy 4, he reminds the people:

Deuteronomy 4:10 how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’ 11 And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. 12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.

God showed up in fire so that his people would learn to fear him, so they would have a proper awe, a holy terror, a deep reverence. Then in Deuteronomy chapter 6 he says:

Deuteronomy 6:24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.

Fear God for your good! The Psalmist calls us to worship this way:

Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

See how fear of the Lord is linked to worship? An essential part of worship is the fear of the Lord.

The New Covenant is Better!

Turn over to Hebrews 12, where the author contrasts this event at Sinai with the experience of the New Testament believer in Jesus:

Hebrews 12:18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken––that is, things that have been made––in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

As New Covenant believers, we have something better, something greater, something more. But even now as New Testament believers, we are still called to ‘offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.’ Let’s look back to our passage in Exodus, and then we will see one of the major contrasting differences that makes the New Covenant better than the old.

Moses the Mediator

20 …And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.”’ 24 And the LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Up – down – up – down. God calls Moses up. God sends Moses back down. God calls Moses up. God sends Moses back down. Moses is acting as the mediator of this covenant. He is the go-between, the one who represents God to the people and the people to God. But in the following chapter, God speaks directly to his people. At the end of this encounter with God, the people cry out for a mediator. The people need a mediator.

Exodus 20:18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”

The holiness of God brings to light the sinfulness of the human heart. For sinful man to be in the presence of God means death. The people needed someone to go between and represent them to God. This is what Job longed for when he said about the Almighty:

Job 9:32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. 33 There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.

An arbiter who would lay his hand on us both. Someone to represent sinful man before a holy God. So terrifying was the sight that even Moses trembled with fear.

Come to Jesus!

Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

They came to the mountain smoking with fire, but we have come to the city of the living God. We come into the presence of innumerable angelic beings that are so awesomely terrifying that we feel almost compelled to worship them. We come into the assembly of those enrolled in heaven, all the saints who believed throughout all history and around the globe. We come to God the judge of all. This is a more terrifying scene than Mount Sinai – saints and angels and God the judge. But we come to Jesus. We come to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. We have a mediator!

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

We come to Jesus, the only mediator between God and men. We have a better mediator than Moses. We come to Jesus, infinite God, who became flesh so that he could bear in his body all our sins on the tree. We come to Jesus, our sinless substitute, who was crucified for us. We come to Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation, who cried out ‘it is finished!’ as he hung there in our place. Because of Jesus, we do not stand far off.

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

We have been reconciled to God by the sacrifice of Christ. God has entered into relationship with his people.

Colossians 2:13 …God made [us] alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

We come:

Hebrews 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground (Gen.4:10) guilty, guilty, guilty – you are under a curse. The blood of Jesus speaks a better word. ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Lk.23:34). Forgiveness for undeserving sinners. The price has been paid. ‘It is finished!’ (Jn.19:30)

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment