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Exodus 20:7 – Word #3; For the Sake of His Name

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110724_exodus20_7.mp3

07/24 Exodus 20:7 Word #3 For the Sake of His Name

We are studying God’s ten words, the household rules for his children. God starts with himself, because everything is all about him. This universe is God-centered. He starts by reminding us of how he acted to save us. He is our rescuer, our redeemer, our deliverer. His action is the foundation of our relationship. Now that he has set us free from slavery, free to worship and serve him, this is what life should look like. First, we are to know him. We are in relationship with the one true God. We must know who he is so that we can worship him as he is. We must know him as Father, Son and Spirit; the one true God. God is to be alone at the center of our lives. He is not satisfied to be even the first among a list of persons or things we live for. He will tolerate no other gods in our lives. Second, we must not try to dumb him down and make him manageable and understandable. We must not imagine him to be something he is not. We must not imagine him to be less than he is, less that what he has told us about himself. We are not free to think of him as we like. We are not to model our idea of the creator after any part of his creation. We must know and worship him as he really is, as he reveals himself to us in his word. Anything less is idolatry, or spiritual adultery. He is jealous God will tolerate no competitors for our affection and devotion.

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 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.

Today we will look at word # 3:

7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

God’s household rule #3 has to do with how we use his name. We will look at what is prohibited, why it is prohibited, and what the consequences are for disobedience, and we will look at what a life looks like that keeps this command.

What is Prohibited?

First, what is prohibited. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” When I was a kid, I thought this was the no cussing commandment. No foul language. No obscenity. No profanity. There is some truth to this. The very word ‘profanity’ highlights the distinction between what is sacred or set apart or holy, and what is profane or common or outside. We are not to take what is sacred or holy and treat it as if it were profane. But this command specifically deals with the name of God. We are not to treat God’s name as common or ordinary. We are not to trivialize God. There are plenty of other scriptures that deal very clearly with what kind of things come out of our mouths, like Ephesians 4:29 and Matthew 12:36 and 15:18 and 2 Corinthians 12:20 and James 3. What comes out is evidence of what is in our hearts, and that is the root of the issue. This command deals specifically with how we handle God’s name. The language is that of the courtroom. For instance, we are not to use God’s name in an oath to give weight to what we are saying, and then lie. Taking an oath is a serious matter. When we take an oath in God’s name, we are appealing to a higher authority, one who has the right and the ability to destroy us if we are not honest in our speech. God does not allow his name to be taken lightly, used casually, or thrown around. Jeremiah (14 & 29) addresses prophets who prophesy in the name of the LORD when the LORD did not speak to them. God has some severe things to say to those who misuse his name and misrepresent him in this way. To take God’s name on our lips and then treat it as if it means nothing to us is the essence of what is forbidden here.

Why is this prohibited?

Why is this such a big deal? Why is God so concerned with how we treat his name? First of all, God is God. He is the supreme one, the sovereign one, the self-existent one. He has the right to take himself seriously, and he has the right to demand that we do the same. God says in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 33:2 “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it––the LORD is his name:

And in Isaiah:

Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

YHWH is our Maker, our Redeemer, the God of the whole earth, and he does not share his glory.

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

God’s name is a gift to us. He says in the prologue to the ten words, “I am YHWH your God.” When Moses asked the voice from the burning bush to identify himself, God said:

Ex 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

God gave his name to his people. He entered into a covenant relationship with them. He gave himself to them to be their God. Knowing God’s name is important. Some people you only know by their official title. Some people you know as acquaintances. But other people you know on a first-name basis. You can call them your friend, and you can call them in the middle of the night if you are in trouble and need their help. God gives himself to his people as it were on a first-name basis and says ‘I will be your God – you can call me any time.’ But it would be inappropriate to scribble his name and number on the bathroom wall.

God’s name stands for his character. When we talk about his name, we are not talking about proper spelling and pronunciation. We are talking about the person behind the name. When Moses asked God to show him his glory, God answered this way:

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Exodus 34:5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Moses asked to see God’s glory. God responded by proclaiming his name and describing his character.

So to take God’s name in a vain or to treat it as worthless is to disregard his authority and trample his gift and undermine his character.

God’s Purpose for his Name

This third command ties into one of God’s purposes in the Exodus:

Exodus 9:16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. (cf. Romans 9:17)

God’s intention in his victory over rebellious Pharaoh was the global proclamation of his name or character. God is putting his reputation on display to win the nations.

Revalation 15:4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

In fact, in Psalm 138 we are told that God exalts his name and his word above all things.

Psalm 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

In Ezekiel 36, God says that Israel defiled the promised land by their ways and their deeds, and it says he poured out his wrath on them because of their idolatry and scattered them among the nations:

Ezekiel 36:20 But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

God acts to vindicate the holiness of his great name. His priority is to clear his reputation in the sight of the nations so that they can put their trust in him. He acts for the sake of his holy name. He jealously defends the honor of his name which his people have profaned.

The Consequences for Disobedience

This is why the consequences are severe.

7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Causing the reputation of God to be questioned is the most serious of offenses. The consequences are not specified, but the punishment is certain. The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. To trivialize God in the eyes of people is not a trivial offense.

What it means to keep this commandment

Inside this prohibition is a positive command. What would not taking the name of the LORD your God in vain look like in a person’s life? This is the first thing Jesus told us to pray for.

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

May God’s name be reverenced, respected, treated with awe. May the third commandment be kept on earth as it is in heaven. Day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Revelation 4:8; cf. Isaiah 6:3).

The Psalms give us some great examples of what it looks like to treat God’s name rightly

Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psalm 135:13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.

Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.

We are to magnify, exalt, ascribe glory to, bring renown to, praise the name of the Lord. But that is not the only way to treat God’s name rightly. The Psalms also teach us to ask:

Psalm 25:11 For your name‘s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.

Psalm 109:21 But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name‘s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!

Psalm 143:11 For your name‘s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!

We honor God’s name by calling on his name, asking him for pardon, rescue, preservation, deliverance. By calling on him for help, we honor him as rich in mercy toward sinners, full of grace, steadfast love, righteousness, the giver of all good things. The prophet Joel promises:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. …

Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in Romans 10 take this up and apply it to Jesus.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Peter goes on to specify what name we are to call upon to be saved:

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Paul says:

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

John agrees:

John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Peter proclaimed:

Acts 4:10 … by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead… 11 This Jesus … 12 …there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power…. 39 …They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear… 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

We honor his great name by calling on Jesus for salvation and forgiveness of sins. This is the good news.

Philippians 2:5… Christ Jesus … 8. ..humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We must not take the name of Christ lightly. We who are called ‘Christian’ must live in such a way that we honor his name among the nations. We must bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, occasional | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 20:4-6; Word #2 – How to Worship

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110717_exodus20_4-6.mp3

07/17 Exodus 20:4-6 Word #2 How to Worship

Who We Worship / How We Worship

The first of God’s ten words specifies that we must worship the correct God. The true God and God alone must be worshiped. YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the I AM, the one who is, the self-existent one; the God who has saved, redeemed and delivered us; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit must alone be the object of our affection and adoration. This one God demands our exclusive devotion. Our hearts are not to be divided. We must worship the correct God. His second word to us is that we must worship the correct God correctly. As the proverb says:

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 16:25; 21:2)

We were created to worship and we were redeemed to worship. There is a right way to worship the right God, and there is a wrong way. Nadab and Abihu (Lev.10) are eloquent witnesses to that fact, as are Uzzah (2Sam.6; 1Chr.13) and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). God takes himself and his worship seriously.

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 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.

Image Worship not Artwork

God’s people are prohibited from making images or likenesses of anything for worship. This is not a prohibition against artwork. Later in Exodus, as we will see, God himself proscribed the details of the tabernacle, including golden winged cherubim, embroidered pomegranates, and golden almond blossoms. God filled the artists with his Spirit. So how is making a likeness of something in heaven – cherubim; or making likenesses of things on earth – pomegranates and almond blossoms; as proscribed for the tabernacle acceptable, and what exactly is forbidden in this command? The pomegranates and almond blossoms and cherubim in the tabernacle were not intended to represent God. They were not to be worshiped. God’s presence was not physically represented in any way in that structure. God said:

Exodus 25:22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. (cf. Numbers 7:89)

God met with his people in the space between the two cherubim, above the mercy seat. The tabernacle was to be a symbolic space, a space appropriate for God’s presence. But nothing in the tabernacle represented God himself. God spoke out of the space above and between the objects that were there. The stuff in the room was furniture and decoration. Solomon made this clear when he built the permanent version of the tabernacle. He said:

2 Chronicles 2:5 The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. 6 But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?

In his prayer of dedication of the temple he said:

2 Chronicles 6:18 “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!

Solomon understood the omnipresence of God. God is everywhere, and cannot be limited or contained, as the psalmist writes:

Psalm 139:7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Invisible God

When Moses met with God, it says:

Numbers 7:89 … he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.

It doesn’t say Moses saw anything. It says he heard the voice coming out of the space above and between. God is not physical or material. God is invisible.

1Timothy 1:17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 11:27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God…

Jesus taught, in regard to true worship of God:

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus taught that God is not physical. God is spirit. In the retelling of the Law in Deuteronomy 4, we are given elaboration and some of the reasons behind God’s command to make no images. Turn to Deuteronomy 4:

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children–– 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. 13 And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14 And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess. 15 “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. 20 But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day. 21 Furthermore, the LORD was angry with me because of you, and he swore that I should not cross the Jordan, and that I should not enter the good land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. 22 For I must die in this land; I must not go over the Jordan. But you shall go over and take possession of that good land. 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. 25 “When you father children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, so as to provoke him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27 And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. 28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice. 31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them. 32 “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. 36 Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, 38 driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, 39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time.”

The explicit reasons given for the second command in Deuteronomy 4 are

Deuteronomy 4:12 …You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice… 15 …Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure.

Don’t make physical representations of God because God has no form. Every image or likeness falls short of communicating what he is really like. When Aaron made the golden calf, he was not intending to lead Israel astray to worship other gods. He was giving them a representation of the true God to assist in their worship. The calf symbolized God’s strength and power and might, but it also wrongly symbolized God as localized and inanimate and sexual, and this improper worship led to a breakdown in society and morality. This is what Romans lays out for us:

Romans 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. …28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind …

God is Creator. Everything else is created. Any representation we make of God insults him and brings him down to the level of his creation. Someone has said that ‘in the beginning God made man in his image, and ever since, man has been trying to return the favor.’ Whenever we conceive of God as if he were like us, we are exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images, and we are not honoring him as God.

Worship and the Word

So, how do we honor God as God, worship him as Creator, and preserve the truth about God, the glory of the immortal God? How do we keep from making images of him either physically or mentally? Over and over in the Deuteronomy passage, we see the contrast drawn between seeing no form and hearing his voice. God spoke. God revealed himself, not visually, but audibly. God reveals himself in words. If we will honor God as God, then we will listen to his self-revelation. We will let him define himself. We must listen to all that he says about himself, all that he says in his word. We are inclined to cling to one attribute of what God is like to the exclusion of other attributes. When we do this, we are exchanging the truth about God for a lie and creating an image of him that resembles ourselves. For instance, ‘I like to think of God as Love. How could a loving God ever send anyone to hell?’ This is a false image of God that distorts what love really is and excludes the reality that God is also just. It takes one thing that God has told us about himself and throws out the rest. Or ‘I don’t get the concept of the trinity, but I just love Jesus so much!’ Friends, God doesn’t expect you to ‘get’ him, to understand him. He expects you to worship him! We so desperately want to bring God down to our level so that he is more comfortable to comprehend. When we do, we have traded the truth about God for a lie. We exchange his immortal glory for images. What we are left with is no longer worthy of worship. We must fight to continually tear down our mental image of God and listen to God as he defines himself for us!

The Image of God

1Timothy 6:15 …he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

We were created to bear God’s image. Humans were to be the visible representation of the invisible God. We have failed miserably at this. God is love and we hate. God is righteous and we lie and cheat and steal and deal falsely. God rules justly and we are selfish and greedy for gain. We have grossly misrepresented what God is like. But God reveals himself accurately in his Word.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. …14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. …18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Jesus, being fully God and fully man, perfectly bears the image of the invisible God for us, accurately represents God to us. Jesus…

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God

As much as we have written about Jesus by the eyewitnesses, we have no physical description of what he looked like. There is an unhealthy obsession by many today to try to identify the facial features, build, stature, hair and eye color of Jesus. The eyewitnesses could have told us, but they did not, because the image of God is not in physical features.

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

If we want to worship the correct God correctly, we will listen to all that he has to say about himself in his word.

This Matters

It matters that we worship the correct God correctly, because God claims to be a jealous God.

Exodus 20:4 “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.

This is not jealous in the petty sense of suspicious fears and envious resentment, but the holy jealousy of a husband who will not share his beloved wife with another man. God says ‘you shall have no other Gods before me.’ God has rescued his people and he is giving himself in a covenant relationship (like the marriage relationship) to be exclusively their God. The consequences for betraying the exclusivity of this relationship are far-reaching. This does not mean that God punishes innocent children for their father’s sins. Deuteronomy 24:16 clearly states that is not the case. Rather, children often learn and repeat the sinful behavior of their parents. God will not say ‘I won’t punish this generation for their sins because they just learned it from their parents.’ If children repeat the sins of their parents, they will be punished for those sins, just like their parents were punished. God is just. But the great mercy of God is highlighted in the greatest numerical contrast in the bible. Third and fourth to thousands! God shows up to judge for three or four generations, but his steadfast love is for thousands! God will show his covenant faithfulness to thousands of those who love him by keeping his commandments.

1John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

July 17, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, occasional | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 20:3; Word #1 – Worship Only the One True God

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110710_exodus20_3.mp3

07/10 Exodus 20:3 Word #1 Worship Only the One True God

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

God’s Ten Words

We are looking at God’s ten words to his people. We know these in English as the ‘Ten Commandments’, but in the Hebrew of Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:13 and 10:4 they are called simply the ‘Ten Words’, and here in the introduction it says ‘God spoke all these words, saying…’. These are God’s words.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

God’s word is powerful and decisive. In the beginning, God spoke, and there was. As God’s words, these can rightly be called commandments because they come from God and carry his authority. But calling them commandments might mislead us into thinking that they are given primarily as a checklist to make ourselves pleasing to God. They can never accomplish that. Rather they point out to us how far we fall short of the perfect standard, and drive us to Christ, who perfectly kept the law for us and was crucified for us to cover our guilt as lawbreakers. When God speaks, he communicates something about himself. In speaking his moral demands, he communicates something of his heart, his will, his character. He is telling us about himself. ‘This is what I am like, and this is how I expect you to relate to me and to one another.’

Saved to God-Centered Worship

God said to Pharaoh ‘Let my people go that they may serve me or worship me’ (Ex.8:1). The first nineteen chapters of Exodus narrate God saving, rescuing, redeeming his people from forced slavery to a cruel tyrant, caring for their needs, and bringing them to himself. God, in an overwhelming display of undeserved kindness, has brought them to the base of the mountain, and now he is graciously defining for them what it means to serve him; what it means to worship him. We were created to worship, and we are redeemed to worship. God is outlining what acceptable worship should consist of. It is interesting that God starts with himself and works down. The bible is thoroughly God-centered. The vertical relationship precedes the horizontal. In the beginning, God…; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. We must understand who God is and how we relate to him before we can understand who we are and how we should properly relate to one another. The first thing on his list is ‘I am YHWH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me’.

Who God Is

God is careful to identify himself. I am YHWH (in Hebrew) (or Jehovah), translated ‘the LORD’ – the I AM, the one who is, the ground and goal of all existence. I am YHWH your God, the God who has given himself to his people. YHWH your redeemer, your rescuer, the one who took you out of slavery. God’s first instruction to his saved people is ‘You shall have no other gods before me; you shall have no other gods in my presence, or before my face.’

Remember, Israel spent the last 4 centuries in Egypt, and the Egyptians served a whole pantheon of gods; the gods of creation (Atum, Amun, Ptah, Khnum), god of the sun (Ra), god of earth (Geb), god of sky (Nut), god of the dead (Osiris), god of justice (Ma’at), god of wisdom (Thoth), god of chaos (Nun), god of destruction (Sekhmet). Some gods were for protection, some produced fertility, some agriculture and crops. There were different gods that controlled different things, and their help was sought in different ways. Some were worshiped in temples, others in homes, some you carried an amulet in your pocket or around your neck. In contrast to all this, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob declares ‘you shall have no other gods before me’. Your allegiance is to be single, your devotion is all to go to me. Moses reiterates God’s ten words in Deuteronomy 5, and in chapter 6 he summarizes this way:

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

Through Jesus, (Mt.22:36-40; Mr.12:28-31; Lk.10:27) we have come to know this as the first or greatest or most important commandment, the commandment that summarizes and includes all other commandments. YHWH our God is one. Practice love toward YHWH with your whole being. He alone is to be worshiped. Our God demands exclusive worship.

Only One God

For this to mean anything, we need to know who this YHWH God is. If God is one and we are to have no other Gods before him, we need to know how he defines himself so that we can love and worship and serve only him.

Deuteronomy 4:35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. …39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

YHWH, the LORD, claims to be the only God. There is no other. There are other supernatural beings, such as angels and fallen angels or demons, all created beings. They are powerful and dangerous and to be respected, but YHWH is in a class by himself. He is Creator; all else is created by him and for him. He is the one supreme, self-existent being. There is no other. He clearly demonstrated his superiority over all the so-called gods of the Egyptians and whatever supernatural force that was behind them.

Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. 7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. 8 Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Who is like the LORD our God? ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.’

The Father is YHWH

What else does this YHWH God tell us about himself? He claims to be our Father by rights of creation.

Deuteronomy 32:6 Do you thus repay the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?

Isaiah 63:16 For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Malachi 1:6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. …

Jesus taught us to pray:

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

YHWH is our Father by rights of creation, and his name is to be honored above all.

To YHWH alone is all honor and glory due. He says:

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

Isaiah 48:11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

The Son is YHWH

But Jesus has some interesting things to say about his Father. The Jews were interrogating Jesus to see what he was claiming about himself. They asked:

John 8:53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

Jesus claimed that the God of the Jews, who was his Father, glorifies him! YHWH does not share his glory with another, but the Father glorifies his Son Jesus. In fact, back in John 5, Jesus claimed

John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

The Father’s goal is that all would honor the Son ‘just as’ – in the same way, to the same extent that – they honor the Father. In fact, to honor the Son less than the Father is to dishonor the Father. YHWH does not share his glory, and yet the Father and the Son share honor and glory equally! Let’s look back at John 8 to see how Jesus finishes his conversation with the Jews about his identity:

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham. In fact, Jesus was identifying himself with the voice that spoke to Moses from the burning bush. When Moses asked the voice for his identity, this is what God said:

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

The name YHWH is derived from the Hebrew verb ‘to be’. God claims to be ‘I AM; I AM WHO I AM; the self-existent one, YHWH. Jesus, in claiming to be the ‘I AM’ who existed before Abraham, was claiming to be YHWH. The Jews understood his claim as blasphemy and wanted to execute him on the spot.

The Gospel authors understood Jesus’ identity as YHWH.

Matthew 3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.”’ (cf. Mk.1:2-3; Lk.1:16-17; 2:76; Jn.1:1-23)

They were quoting Isaiah 40:3, which says:

Isaiah 40:3 A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

They understood John, in preparing the way for Jesus, to be preparing the way for the coming of YHWH. Jesus is YHWH, and received worship as YHWH.

The Spirit is YHWH

Let’s look at another interesting passage in the Old Testament that is quoted in the New. Psalm 95

Psalm 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

We are called by the Psalmist to come worship YHWH our Maker and our God. Then in verse 9, he switches to the first person. Your fathers put me to the test at Massah and Meribah. Who is speaking? According to Exodus 17, it was YHWH who was put to the test.

Exodus 17:7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” (cf. Num.14:20-30; Ps.81:9-13)

So YHWH is speaking in Psalm 95. Why is this important? Because In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95 and says:

Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works 10 for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.”’

So when YHWH speaks in the Old Testament, the New Testament authors can quote him and say ‘the Holy Spirit says’, because the Holy Spirit is YHWH.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

The Lord is the Spirit; or the Spirit is YHWH.

Isaiah 63:11 Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, 12 who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, 13 who led them through the depths?

Exodus 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

The Holy Spirit is YHWH, the Son is YHWH, and the Father is YHWH. The Father is a unique and distinct person; the Son is a unique and distinct person, and the Spirit is a unique and distinct person. These three distinct persons are God, but they are not three gods; they are one God. This is what we find in the bible. And God communicates to us so that we can know something of what he is like. So when God says:

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

We should understand that YHWH is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that YHWH is the only God who exists, and he deserves all our worship, all our devotion, all our affection. We worship this great God, this self-existent God who has always existed in the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We worship and honor and praise the eternal, immortal, invisible God, who is Father, Son and Spirit. We worship him alone.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 20:1-2; Freedom! The Place of the Law for the Christian

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110703_exodus20_1-2.mp3

07/03 Exodus 20:1-2 Prologue – Place of the Law for the Christian

We are about to enter a section in Exodus that is Law. Exodus 20 contains what we know as the Ten Commandments. The rest of Exodus, then Leviticus and much of Numbers and Deuteronomy contain laws given by God to govern his people. So before we choose either to study this out and see what we can learn from it or to set it aside and skip it entirely, we need to understand where we as New Testament believers in Jesus stand in relation to God’s law. We are quick to answer ‘We are free! We are not under law! We are under grace!” and we quote verses like:

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

We are free in Jesus! We are set free from the law! We are not under law; we are under grace. We are released from the captivity of the law. That is what the bible says. But what exactly does that mean? Does freedom from the law, not being under the law mean that we have no moral standard and are free to do as we please? Let’s look back at the text for the answer.

Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

We are set free from the law, not so that we can enjoy sinning, but so that we are set free from bondage to sin. We are out from under the rule of law so that we can have a heart kind of obedience. We are now free to be slaves to righteousness, slaves to God. We have been set free from the obligation so that we can obey God from the heart.

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Here’s a test. Can you pray Psalm 119? Just listen and see if your soul resonates with the Psalmist. (and don’t worry, I won’t read the whole thing!)

Psalm 119:1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! 4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. 5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. 8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. 17 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! 20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.

97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.

113 … but I love your law.

163 … but I love your law.

165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Or what about Psalm 19?

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Is that how you feel about God’s law, his commandments, his rules? Are they sweet and desirable to you? Can you sing psalms in praise of the law of God? Should we feel that way? Or is that just an Old Testament thing. Look at what the Apostle says:

Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Romans 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.

1Timothy 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

He also says:

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Listen to what Jesus says about the law:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them .18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

So Jesus did not abolish the law and Paul claims that all scripture is profitable and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. But he also says we are set free and no longer under the law. How does this all fit together? I think the passage in 1 Timothy holds a clue:

1Timothy 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

Paul is warning against false teachers who teach the law without understanding what it is really about. He says there is a lawful use of the law, and there is a way to use the law unlawfully. So we need to understand the purpose of the law. He clarifies in the following verses:

1 Timothy 1:9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners…

The law was given for sinners, not righteous people. People that drive slow don’t need the speed limit sign. The guy in the tractor doing 12 does not sweat when he sees the state trooper posted behind the 65 mile an hour sign. The sign is posted for those who like to drive fast. Paul further clarifies the purpose of the law in Romans:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

The law shuts every mouth that would try to excuse itself. We are all accountable before God as lawbreakers. James is on the same page with Paul when he says:

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

If you are perfect except for just one thing, you are a lawbreaker and you are guilty. Paul sums it up in Galatians:

Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

To misuse the law is to rely on it to establish your righteousness before God. If you rely on the law then you have to abide by all of it perfectly. No one ever has, so that makes us all lawbreakers and places us under the just punishment for lawbreakers. The law was not intended to make anyone righteous. By nature it cannot make anyone righteous any more than a speed limit sign can make your car stay within the posted limit. It simply points out where you are in violation of the standard.

How is that sweeter than honey and more desirable than riches? That’s bad news for all of us. But it is an objective standard to tell us where we stand. And it tells us that there is a God who is absolutely holy and has righteous standards that don’t bend. There is a God and he doesn’t leave us guessing whether we are in or out. That’s important to know. Have you ever been driving along minding your own business, when the patrol car catches your eye, and you realize you haven’t been paying attention and have no idea what the speed limit is? You instinctively hit the brakes and check the speedometer and look around for a sign to tell you if you’re in or out. Is it 65 here? 75? 35? God’s perfect law reveals his perfect standard and shows us right where we stand. So we know where we stand, but this is still bad news for all of us, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. None is righteous, no not one. Our only hope at this point is that the one who is supposed to uphold the law is either not paying attention or is just too lazy to actually enforce the standard. Absolute justice would demand that he give every speeder a ticket every time. We can hope that he is not absolutely just or he is too busy with somebody else. But if we understand who God is, none of those hopes will give the least bit of comfort. He knows everything, he sees everything, he is infinitely capable to enforce his perfect law perfectly, and he is absolutely just with everyone all the time. So where is the hope? Listen to Romans 3:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–– 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is the gospel! This is good news for lawbreaker! God the lawmaker declares us just because God put his own Son forward as a propitiation – satisfying his just wrath against sin by punishing a perfect and willing substitute. This allows a just God to fully deal with sin and yet declare the sinner who runs to Jesus as not guilty. God remains just and justifies sinners who trust in his Son Jesus. The law is sweet because it shows us our need and drives us to Jesus!

But is this all? Once I know I am a lawbreaker in need of a substitute, can’t I be done with the law? What use is there in going back again to look at the law? If I see the law is impotent to do anything but condemn me, then once it has brought me to the cross, isn’t its function complete? Yes, its primary function is complete, but God’s law has a secondary function, a new-covenant function. Remember, 2 Timothy 3 told us that all Old Testament scripture, including the law, is profitable …for training in righteousness, that the man of God, (the one who already has his sins forgiven by God’s grace through the cross) may be competent, equipped for every good work.

So God’s law has a training and equipping function for the one who has been saved by grace from the consequences of the law.

If we are paying attention, we can see this back in the giving of the law in Exodus. In introducing his law, God gave it as a rule for his already saved people to know how to be his ambassadors in the world.

Exodus 19:3 while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

God was not giving it as a means to earn points with him. He had already brought them out of bondage and into his presence. Now he was giving instruction on how to respond to his grace. He says at the beginning of chapter 20:

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

God had already brought them out of Egypt. God had already given himself in covenant relationship to his people – I am YHWH your God. The One who Is; the Self-Existent one, is personally your

God, your authority. Now that I have rescued you and you are in a relationship with me, here is how you should respond to my grace. Listen to Exodus 20 with that gracious purpose and the worshipful response of the Psalmist in mind.

Psalm 119: 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. 174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Exodus 20

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 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. 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment