PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Acts 18; Paul and Corinth

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121028_paul-corinth.mp3

10/28 1 Corinthians Background and History

We are going to take some time to study a fascinating letter from the Apostle Paul. Let me read you the first lines of the letter.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth,

This is a letter that, more than most in the New Testament, gives us insight into Paul’s heart. Some of the details of this letter are difficult to understand, because we are listening in on one end of a conversation. Multiple letters and other communication went back and forth between Paul and the believers in Corinth. What we know as First Corinthians is actually the second letter Paul wrote to this young church. In 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul refers to a previous letter.

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one.

This mention is all that has survived of this earlier letter. Apparently this letter was misunderstood by the church, and Paul needed to write again to clarify what he had meant. So the letter we have before us is actually his second letter. The church in Corinth had also sent the apostle a letter.

1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: …

In chapters 7-16, Paul answers at least 6 specific questions the Corinthians had asked him. So we find in this letter a kind of a Q&A with the apostle. Apparently, a report from ‘Chloe’s people’ had told him of trouble in Corinth (1:11). And Paul had no doubt heard from Apollos more details about the situation in Corinth, when he arrived in Ephesus. So Paul wrote this letter to address some of these issues and to answer their questions. He sent off this letter, and also sent Timothy to address the situations. Shortly after, new problems arose in the church. It appears there was a third letter, as well as a painful visit, that he refers to in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 2:1 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. …9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything.

2 Corinthians 7:8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.

This tearful letter doesn’t seem to fit what we have in 1 Corinthians, and the painful visit couldn’t be his first visit when he planted the church, so there was another round of communication between 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Our 2 Corinthians would then be the fourth letter. We are listening in on one end of the communication, and trying to piece together what exactly is going on.

It will be helpful to become familiar with the background of this city and try to piece together the history of this church from the book of Acts. That is where we will spend our time this morning.

Corinth

The city of Corinth was located in a very strategic place. It was on a narrow isthmus connecting Northern Greece to the Peloponnese peninsula. It was also close to two major ports; Lechaeum to the East and Cenchreae to the West. There was a 3.7 mile drag-way, called ‘diolkos’ where smaller ships and cargo could be put on rollers and portaged between the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs, so they could avoid the long and treacherous trip around the south shores of the Peloponnese. The city itself was built on the north side of the Acrocorinthus, a 1900ft. natural citadel atop which stood the temple of Venus or Aphrodite, and to which the citizens could retreat to defend themselves when attacked. The city boasted an inexhaustible water supply in fountain of Peirene. This city had a totally immoral reputation. The historian Strabo records that there were 1,000 temple prostitutes that served the temple of Aphrodite. A ‘Corinthian girl’ was a way to refer to a prostitute, and ‘to corinthianize’ meant to indulge in immorality.

The city was completely destroyed by Roman General Leucius Mummius in 146BC in retaliation for the part it played in the revolt of the Achaian League against Rome. Its inhabitants were slaughtered or sold as slaves. It lay desolate for 100 years. Julius Caesar saw the potential of the location, and in 44 BC re-founded the city as a Roman colony. It was populated by free-men (which were slightly above a slave), a population of Jews, and many retired soldiers also settled there. There was no established status by birth, so Corinth provided an opportunity for anyone who could gain wealth to gain status and respect; the poor were despised or ignored. Corinth presided over the Isthmian games, held every 2 years, in which all the Greek city-states participated. This city became the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. By the time Paul visited, the population was estimated at around 600,000.

Timeline for Paul:

Let’s look at an overview of Paul’s life and ministry.

Born in Tarsus as an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin, a Roman citizen (AD 5-10?)

Trained as a Pharisee by Gamaliel I (15-20?)

Death, resurrection of Christ (33)

(Acts 7-8) Present at stoning of Stephen; persecuted Christians (33-34)

(Acts 9) Paul’s conversion (33/34)

(Gal. 1:17) Paul in Arabia (33/34-36/37)

(Acts 9:26-30; Gal. 1:18) Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem to meet Peter and James (36/37)

(Gal. 1:21) Paul ministers in Syria/Cilicia (37-45)

(Acts 11:25-26) Paul spends a year in Antioch with Barnabas (44-47)

(Acts 11:27-30; Gal.2:1-10) Paul’s second Jerusalem visit (famine relief) (44-47)

(Acts 13-14) Paul’s first missionary journey (46-47)

(Acts 15) Paul’s third Jerusalem visit (apostolic council) (48-49)

(Acts 15-18) Paul’s second journey (including 1.5 years in Corinth) (48/49-51)

Here we want to pick up the story in detail from the book of Acts. On Paul’s first missionary journey he left Antioch with Barnabas and went to the island of Cyprus, then on to six cities in Lycia and Galatia. On his second journey, he took Silas and visited some of those cities in Galatia again, where he picked up Timothy and continued northwest around the Aegean Sea. In Troas, Paul saw a vision of a man from Macedonia urging them to come to Macedonia to help them (Acts 16:6-10). They traveled to Phillipi, where the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to what Paul was saying. But when Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl, her owners who had made a lot of money from her fortune telling, dragged Paul and Silas before the magistrates and had them beaten with rods and imprisoned. They were put in the stocks in the inner prison.

Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.

The jailer and his family believed in Jesus and were baptized. The magistrates were informed they were Roman citizens and apologized for beating them and asked them to leave their city. They traveled to Thessalonica and Paul preached for three Sabbaths at the synagogue that Jesus is the Christ, and that according to the Scriptures it was necessary for him to suffer and rise from the dead. Some from the synagogue were persuaded, along with many devout Greeks and leading women. The Jews were jealous and incited a mob, but they could not find them, so they dragged Jason their host and some of the other brothers before the authorities and made accusation that they were preaching against Caesar, saying there was another king, Jesus. The brothers sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. Many there believed, but when the Jews from Thessalonica heard they were preaching in Berea, they followed them there stirring up the crowds against them. Paul escaped by sea, but Silas and Timothy remained behind in Berea. Paul came to Athens alone, where he reasoned in the synagogue and in the marketplace, and preached in the Areopagus, but with very limited success, a few believed, only two are named. It seems he left Athens alone and discouraged and headed for Corinth. He records his feelings in:

1 Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,

Apparently he was in desperate need of encouragement, because:

Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

Let’s look at Luke’s record of what happened in Corinth.

Acts 18:1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.

This is a very helpful bit of information for nailing down the date of Paul’s stay in Corinth. This edict of expulsion is recorded by Suetonius, (Lives of the Caesars, Claudius 25.4 published 120AD). “Because the Jews of Rome were indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus he expelled them from the city” This is likely a slight misspelling of Christus or Christ, which fits Paul’s recent experience that when he preached Jesus as the Christ, the Jews began riots. This decree of Claudius is dated AD 49.

Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Corinth became a great source of encouragement. Silas and Timothy rejoined him there. When the Jews rejected his message, he turned to the Gentiles. It so happened that Titius Justus lived next door to the synagogue and opened his house to Paul as a place for him to preach Jesus. Many believed, including Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue. Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth teaching the word of God. This was the birth of the church in Corinth.

Acts 18:12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

Here we have another significant connecting point to secular history.

Lucius Junius Gallio, brother of famous philosopher Seneca, was appointed as the new Roman proconsul of Achaia July 1 of AD 51. A rescript from Claudius was discovered in Delphi mentioning Gallio as proconsul of Achaia in the period of the 26th acclamation of Claudius as Imperator (known from other inscriptions to cover the first seven months of AD 52). So Paul would have been brought before Gallio in the fall of AD 51.

Gallio’s handling of this case was significant for the future of Christianity in the Roman empire. He simply dismissed the case, assuming Paul was protected under Roman law as a Jew, and assuming that this was a religious debate within Judaism. This set a precedent for other Roman colonies, granting freedom to the preaching of Jesus. Gallio’s snub of the Jewish leaders provided an opportunity for the non-Jewish population to vent their anti-Jewish sentiment on the new synagogue leader Sosthenes. If this Sosthenes is the same as the Sosthenes mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:1, then he must have subsequently become a believer in Jesus and followed Paul to Ephesus.

Acts 18:18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Here we see the start of Paul’s 3rd missionary journey. He had returned to Caesarea, Jerusalem, and Antioch, and then went to encourage the believers in many of the places he had visited previously. In Ephesus, we meet another key figure in the history of the church in Corinth.

Acts 18:24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples.

Apollos was from Alexandria in Egypt. He met Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus, before Paul returned, and they explained to him the way of God more accurately. He was eloquent, passionate, powerful. He was encouraged to go to Achaia and settled in Corinth, where ‘he greatly helped those who through grace had believed’. Paul viewed Apollos as continuing the ministry he had started in Corinth. He says:

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

And in the close of the letter, Paul refers to him as ‘our brother’.

1 Corinthians 16:12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.

Paul spent 3 years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31). During his stay there, he received correspondence from the church in Corinth, and reports from Chloe’s people, and Apollos also returned to Ephesus toward the end of his stay there. He wrote the letter of 1 Corinthians from Ephesus. Apparently, both his co-worker Timothy and his letter were unable to manage the situation so Paul paid Corinth an immediate short painful visit (2Cor.2:1). Paul was personally attacked in deeply insulting ways (2Cor.2:5-8, 10; 7:12) by self-proclaimed apostles who had infiltrated the church and were undermining his authority. He returned to Ephesus and decided not to return immediately as he had planned (2Cor1:16ff). Instead, he sent another (lost) letter; out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears (2cor.2:4), delivered by Titus. This letter assured them of his love, laid down the standards expected of the churches, and demanded punishment of ringleader who opposed Paul (2:3-9; 7:8-12).

Ephesus was now becoming dangerous; as he describes in

2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

He is likely referring to the riot in the theater started by Demetrius and the other idol-makers (Acts 19:23-20:1). Paul left Ephesus for Troas hoping to meet Titus returning with news from Corinth.

2 Corinthians 2:12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

When Paul arrived in Macedonia, he was still troubled over Corinth, because he did not find Titus there.

2 Corinthians 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn–fighting without and fear within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Paul wrote what we have as 2 Corinthians from Macedonia, after Titus had brought his good report of their repentant response. Paul continued south from Macedonia to visit Corinth again, spending three months, during which he wrote the letter to the Romans (Acts 20:1-3). Paul then returned to Jerusalem, where he was arrested, imprisoned in Caesarea for two years, then on his voyage to Rome, was shipwrecked in Malta for 3 months. Paul finally made it to Rome in AD 60. He spent two years under house-arrest in Rome, then was released for a time before he was re-arrested and lay down his life for the cause of Christ in Rome.

What can we learn from all this?

If you are into history, this may be really interesting stuff. If you like puzzles and mysteries, then piecing all the facts and details together is very satisfying. If not, you’re probably bored out of your mind. I’m not interested in giving a history lesson for history’s sake. Here’s a few things I think we can take away from this.

-God’s word is true. We see so much historical confirmation of the details that demonstrate the accuracy of the bible.

-Corinth was an evil city. There is no place too dark or hopeless for us to bring the light of the gospel. The gospel has the power to transform lives.

-We see from Paul’s travels that God orders our circumstances and even our detours for his good purposes.

-Even Paul got discouraged. God comforts the downcast.

-From Paul’s example we can learn to love the gospel more than our own lives.

-From Paul’s example, we can learn to love the church, be grieved over division, pray and work hard for unity.

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

Advertisements

October 28, 2012 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 39:32-40:38; The Finished Work, The Restored Presence

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121021_exodus39_32-40_38.mp3

10/21 Exodus 39:32 – 40:38 The Finished Work; The Restored Presence

We are at the close of the book of Exodus. Here’s a broad outline of the entire book:

(chapters 1-14) God’s Redemption of His People

(chapters 15-18) God’s Care for His People

(chapters 19-24) God’s Covenant with His People

(chapters 25-40) God’s Presence with His People

The focus of the entire book of Exodus is God’s presence with his people. God saved his people from slavery, cared for his people in the wilderness, entered into covenant relationship with his people, so that he could dwell in the midst of his people. This last section, chapters 25-40, culminating God’s presence with his people, is broken in half with chapters 32-34, which recount the covenant treason of the people with the golden bull idol and Moses’ intercession for the people. The first half, chapters 25-31, detail God’s instructions for the construction of his tent in the midst of the camp, the tabernacle. The second half, chapters 35-39, recount the faithful, precise obedience of the people following the commands of the Lord down to every detail. This structure demonstrates the total, complete forgiveness and restoration that God graciously extended to his broken, repentant people. Chapters 35-39 read as if nothing had ever happened. In our study through Exodus, we covered the corresponding fulfillment sections as we went through the command sections. Now we jump to the end of chapter 39.

Exodus 39:32 Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did. 33 Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all its utensils, its hooks, its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; 34 the covering of tanned rams’ skins and goatskins, and the veil of the screen; 35 the ark of the testimony with its poles and the mercy seat; 36 the table with all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 37 the lampstand of pure gold and its lamps with the lamps set and all its utensils, and the oil for the light; 38 the golden altar, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the entrance of the tent; 39 the bronze altar, and its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils; the basin and its stand; 40 the hangings of the court, its pillars, and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court, its cords, and its pegs; and all the utensils for the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of meeting; 41 the finely worked garments for ministering in the Holy Place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons for their service as priests. 42 According to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the people of Israel had done all the work. 43 And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.

Exodus 40:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3 And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. 4 And you shall bring in the table and arrange it, and you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 6 You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, 7 and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 8 And you shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court. 9 “Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. 10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. 11 You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water 13 and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14 You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15 and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”

16 This Moses did; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did. 17 In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. 19 And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 20 He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark. 21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 22 He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, 23 and arranged the bread on it before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 24 He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, 25 and set up the lamps before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 26 He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 28 He put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 29 And he set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 30 He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31 with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32 When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.

Moses was the only one that saw the heavenly original of which the earthly tabernacle was to be a copy. So he was the only one able to inspect all the craftsmanship to make sure it matched what he had seen on the mountain. Remember, the tabernacle was designed to be a portable worship center for a people on the move, so the people could easily bring all the pieces to Moses for inspection. Amazingly, there is no record of anything failing to meet his approval. There was no instance where he said ‘I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough. You’ll have to try again.’ It says:

42 According to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the people of Israel had done all the work. 43 And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.

Re-Creation

Much of this language echoes the language of the creation narrative in the beginning of Genesis. The tabernacle, like the garden, was to be the place where God would dwell with his people. In the creation narrative, God said… and it was so. Here, as LORD commanded, so they had done it.

Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

Exodus 39:32 Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did.

Exodus 40:33 … So Moses finished the work.

At the beginning of the creation narrative, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Gen.1:2); for the building of this sanctuary,

Exodus 35:31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, …34 And he has inspired him to teach… 35 He has filled them with skill… (cf. Exodus 31:3)

The amazing thing about these echoes of creation in this narrative is that in the original creation, there is no ‘God said, and they did just the opposite and screwed everything up and brought the anger of the LORD, but then they repented and God forgave them, and it was so.’ It was simply ‘God spoke and it happened’. Perfect obedience. Here, after violating their covenant commitment with a false god, the final verdict is:

Exodus 39:43 And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.

This, too, is an echo of the creation narrative.

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill …and subdue …and have dominion …

Good News

This is the great news of the gospel.

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Jeremiah 31:34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

The good news is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. Because he paid our price in full, we can be treated as if we had never sinned. Our relationship with a holy God can be restored to the intimacy it was designed for. We can be accepted as if we had kept the whole law perfectly, not because of our own efforts, but because of the perfect obedience of Jesus credited to our account.

Jesus

Remember, the whole tabernacle points to Jesus. Jesus, the covering of mercy that appeases God’s wrath over the broken law; Jesus the bread of life, Jesus the light of the world, Jesus who offers himself as the once-for-all sacrifice, Jesus our great high priest, Jesus whose prayers continually ascend to the Father for us, Jesus, in whose blood we are washed clean, Jesus, who clothes us with his righteousness and anoints us with his Holy Spirit, Jesus, who is our sabbath rest, Jesus who is the meeting place between God and men, Jesus, who is God pitching his tent in our midst, Jesus the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb.1:3).

The Glory

The work was finished exactly according to plan. The dwelling place of God was complete. We finally reach the climax of the Exodus:

Exodus 40:34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

Will God go with us? God gave evidence that he had taken up residence with his people. They had built a tent for him to dwell with them, and immediately upon completion, God takes up residence with them. The intensity of the glory of God is emphasized here. Moses, who spent two periods of 40 days each with God in the glory cloud, Moses, whom God placed in a cleft of the rock and caused all his goodness to pass by, Moses whom God talked with face to face, as a man talks with his friend, Moses, whose face radiated the glory of God with such intensity that he covered it with a veil, this Moses ‘was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.’ Moses, who had experienced so much of God’s glory, was not able to enter. At this point Moses, who served as mediator between God and the people, is now shown to be one of the people. If you hire a general contractor to build your house, he oversees the construction and has access to the house while it is being built. He oversees the craftsmen and ensures that it is built according to the plans, and he has authority to inspect the work and can even require that things be re-done. He has access to the house until it is completed, and then he hands the keys over to the owner. He does not keep a set of keys for himself so he can come and go as he pleases. Once the owner moves in, he looses all rights to access the house. This is the situation with Moses, and the author of Hebrews highlights this contrast between Moses and Jesus in Hebrews 3.

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses–as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

God is the builder, Moses is a servant, Jesus is the Son. We believers are the house that God lives in. Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses. The glory of God had now come to dwell in the tent, and Moses was unable to enter.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled, pitched his tent] among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Moses was unable to enter because of the glory; Jesus is the one who is glorious, the only Son from the Father.

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,

Moses had limited access into the tabernacle. He served as priest when the tabernacle was first set up, arranging the bread and burning the incense, offering the burnt offering and the grain offering; he anointed Aaron and his sons as priests to serve in the newly constructed tabernacle. And then he was unable to enter. But Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and when he entered the holiest place after making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of his Father. He has a right to live in the house, because he is the Son.

Presence of God

This is what Exodus is about; the presence of God dwelling with his people.

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

Exodus 29:45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

Exodus is about Jesus.

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).

Jesus said:

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

We, believers in Jesus, have become the dwelling place of God, the temple of God. This is the focal point of all of history, as the final book of Revelation sums it up.

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

We, believers in Jesus, can now enjoy the presence of God, we can walk with God, we can experience his guidance, we can reflect his glory, we can know his indwelling presence.

The message of Exodus is the message of Immanuel – God with us.

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

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 34:28-35; The Fading Glory of the Old Covenant

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121014_exodus34_28-35.mp3

10/14 Exodus 34:28-35 The Fading Glory of the Old Covenant

28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Let’s find our place in the story. The people had sinned. They had broken God’s covenant while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the written terms of the covenant. God was ready to destroy them, but Moses interceded, asking God to show mercy to his people. God relented from his intention to consume them all, but when Moses came down the mountain and saw with his own eyes what had happened, he did what he could to clean up the mess and purge the evil from the camp. About 3,000 men of the people were killed. The LORD announced a disastrous word, that he would no longer go with the people. They would enter the promised land, but without his presence. God is holy and he would be provoked to destroy this persistently rebellious people. The people mourned and took off their ornaments and waited to see what God would do with them. Moses went outside the camp to a temporary tent of meeting, where God met with him. Moses begged that God restore the people to their privileged position and restore his presence to the people. God agreed, and invited Moses up on the mountain to remake the covenant and reveal himself to Moses. According to our text, Moses has now been on the mountain another 40 days, a repeat of the first time, when Israel under Aaron’s leadership made a golden bull idol and held a feast to it and gave their worship to it. But this time, the people are not celebrating the works of their hands; they are mourning, repentant, waiting to hear what God would do with them. We have been in on what has gone on at the top of the mountain, that God revealed his character as a God gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and covenant faithfulness, eager to forgive all kinds of sin. But the people have not heard this yet. They await Moses’ return.

Horns of Moses

Last time Moses returned, his authority was undermined, there was a coup in the camp; the people had broken loose. He brought down two stone tablets, publicly shattered them, ordered the cleansing of the camp, pulverized their idol and made them drink it. This time he is coming down the mountain carrying new tablets, but this time something bizarre is happening. Everyone is terrified and all keep their distance. Something is happening with the skin of Moses’ face. Most of our English translations use words like ‘shining’ or ‘radiant’ to describe what the Israelites saw. The word translated ‘shone’ in verses 29, 30 and 35 is a word that only shows up one other time in the Old Testament; in Psalm 69 it is a verbal noun that means ‘horns’.

Psalm 69:31 This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.

Jerome’s Latin Vulgate (completed around AD 400) translated this as ‘his face was horned’. Because of this, much of the Medieval and Renaissance artwork portrayed Moses with horns.

This word seems to be the root of the word commonly translated as ‘horns’. Horns in biblical times represented strength, power or authority. So whatever the actual physical or visual phenomena, the word used to describe it carried the idea of authority, God restoring his authority to his mediator Moses. Habakkuk uses the related word for horns in what seems to be a very figurative way.

Habakkuk 3:3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. Selah 4 His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power.

(AV Habakkuk 3:4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power)

Whatever this looked like, it was God’s way of displaying ‘this is my servant Moses – listen to him. He is my chosen mediator. He carries my authority’. They were terrified.

True Humility

A very interesting note is that Moses had no idea what was going on. Everyone is freaking out because of what’s going on with Moses’ face, and he is totally unaware that his appearance is altered.

29 …Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.

Moses had spent 40 days in the presence of God. He was changed. He didn’t eat or drink in 40 days. But he didn’t come down the mountain saying ‘look at me! Isn’t this cool? Do you notice something different about me? I’ve been in the presence of God!’ Moses is so fixated on the glory of God, on seeing and knowing God for who he is, that he’s lost sight of himself. This is true greatness. This is true humility. Not drawing attention to the evidence of God’s work in my life, and not drawing negative attention to how low and miserable and humble I am. True humility is simply not putting self on display at all. Self-awareness is lost as God takes center stage. This is the freedom that comes from focusing on God, enjoying God, being in awe of God so much that although I am being changed in the process, I am blissfully unaware of myself at all.

Good News

The people are mourning and afraid, waiting to find out what God will do with them, and their mediator comes down the mountain with a terrifying appearance. Moses has to call Aaron and the leaders of Israel to come back to him so he can talk with them, and they have to convince the people that it is safe to come near Moses. Once they are finally gathered, he can communicate what God had told him on the mountain

30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.

This would include the re-iteration of God’s ten words. This would include God’s self revelation:

Exodus 34:6 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.”

This would include God’s promise:

Exodus 34:10 And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

Finally, the people hear God’s answer to their question. Could they be forgiven? Would God abandon them? This was a repeat in miniature of the terror they had experienced when the mountain was on fire and God thundered out his expectations to them. Now Moses’ face was on fire and they were terrified with overflowing joy as he repeated the words of God’s covenant with them.

Transfigured

It is interesting that Moses shows up again centuries later on another mountain with another mediator whose appearance was altered after spending time with God. Jesus, who

Isaiah 53:2 …he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

This Jesus

Luke 9:28 … took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure [exodus], which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”––not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. (cf. Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:1-9)

The skin of Moses’ face shone because he had been talking with God. But John said of Jesus:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. …16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Moses reflected the glory of God. Jesus revealed the glory of God, because Jesus is God. When Peter suggested that they make three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah, He was silenced by the voice “this is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Moses and Elijah and James and John and Peter were all there to see Jesus, to testify to Jesus. Jesus is the one who Moses and all the prophets were pointing to. Jesus said:

Luke 24:44 … that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Moses, Elijah, the entire Old Testament was written about Jesus. Jesus said:

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

The author of Hebrews points how Jesus is superior in every way to angels, to Moses, to the law, the temple, the priests, the sacrifices, Jesus is the reality of which everything else was foreshadow and type.

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 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,

Moses reflected the glory of God. This was only a dim foretaste of what would be seen in Jesus. Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of his nature.

The Glory Fades

33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

According to the text, Moses would veil his face after he spoke to the people. He would remove the veil when he went into the presence of the LORD. He would deliver the message to the people so that they could see the skin of his face shining. Then he would cover himself with the veil until he went again into the presence of the LORD. Paul in 2 Corinthians points to the veiling of Moses’ shining face, and draws a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New. Paul says

2 Corinthians 3:5 …our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Paul points out that Moses veiled his face because the glory of the Old Covenant, as brilliant as that was, was a fading glory. It did not last. He draws a number of contrasts between the Old Covenant and the New:

Old Covenant / New Covenant

Of The Letter / Of The Spirit

Kills / Gives Life

Ministry of Death Ministry of Spirit

Carved in Stone / Written in Hearts

Fading Glory / Surpassing Glory

Hidden / Revealed

Ministry of Condemnation / Ministry of Righteousness

Ending / Permanent

Minds Hardened / Veil Removed Through Christ

We look at what happened to Moses and are intrigued. Wouldn’t that be cool if we all left church each Sunday with radiating faces? But Paul’s point is that what Moses experienced under the Old Covenant was as nothing compared to what what we now have in the New Covenant. Moses, a man, was their mediator. Jesus, the God-man is our one mediator. Moses was the only one invited in to God’s presence. We all have the opportunity to behold the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. We get to look, not at Moses, but at Jesus, God the Son, and we get to look with unveiled faces. We are not hid in a cleft of the rock and covered with his hand, able to see only his back side. We experience the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Transformed by Beholding

We, like Moses are altered from the experience. But for Moses it faded away. For us it is permanent. Are you hungry for lasting transformation in you life? In your character? In your relationships? In your attitudes? In your thoughts and desires? Here is the answer for permanent transformation. It is not something we do; transformation is something that is done to us; we are ‘being transformed’. What is the mechanism of transformation? How does it happen? ‘Beholding the glory of the Lord’, we look, we gaze, we see, and we are being transformed. We turn to the Lord, the veil is removed, and we take in who Jesus is. We enjoy him in all his glory, full of grace and truth. As we look God transforms us. We may not be aware that anything is happening. We can lose ourselves in the glory of his majesty. But those around us will know. They will see it in our lives.

Exodus 34:10 …And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

They will recognize that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

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

October 14, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 34:10-27; The Covenant Re-Made

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121007_exodus34_10-27.mp3

10/7 Exodus 34:10-27 The Covenant Re-made

Moses has asked God to show him his glory. Moses was asking that God take sinful rebellious disobedient Israel back as his own people. He was asking that he forgive their sins and take them to be his treasured possession. That is a huge request, a bold request, an unlikely request, but it was based on God’s revelation of his own character. God said that he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, not letting the guilty go unpunished. Moses is boldly asking God to extend his grace and forgiveness to wayward Israel, and to give him proof of his promised presence, and to restore the sinful people to their previous privileged position. In this passage, God is answering ‘yes’. We are going to look at how he answers.

Remember, when Moses asked God to show him his glory, God explained how he would show him his glory, but before he did, he instructed Moses:

Exodus 34:1 The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3 No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4 So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone.

This takes us right back to chapter 19, where God was first inviting the people into covenant with him. The covenant documentation must be remade. There is no experience of the glory of God, no enjoying of the presence of God outside of a covenant relationship with him. They broke the covenant. The covenant relationship must be renewed in order for God to take them to be his inheritance. This is what we see in this chapter. God is agreeing to take Israel back as his people, but only on his terms. This is like those software installation programs that require you to accept the terms and conditions or they don’t let you install the program. Either you accept the terms or you don’t go any further. But God’s terms are not endless pages of legal mumbo-jumbo. God is very clear and concise in laying out his expectations of his people. But the first thing he communicates is what he will do for his people.

I Will Do Marvels

Exodus 34:10 And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

This is amazing in light of where we are in Exodus. God had delivered the people from slavery in Egypt by 10 mighty acts of judgment. He had decimated the world superpower, bringing Egypt to its knees. Even the wise men of the Egyptian court said:

Exodus 10:7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”

Now God is saying ‘I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation… It is an awesome thing that I will do with you.’ As if the deliverance from Egypt, the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, was not an awesome thing! God is promising to do even greater things than these! Hold this thought, because I’d like to come back to these verses again before we end today.

An Exclusive Covenant

God says he is making the covenant. He is the one who establishes the terms of the agreement. He is King. He determines what must be. He says ‘Observe what I command you this day.’ These are the boundaries that define the relationship. Without these requirements there is no relationship. There is only broken covenant.

12 Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. 13 You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods. 17 “You shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.

Here God is restating his first two commandments.

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…

God is bringing his commandment home to the people who have so recently embraced idolatry, made a golden bull and worshiped the works of their hands. He reiterates that he is a jealous God (20:5); not the petty jealousy of wounded pride, but holy jealousy out of love for the people he is taking to be his own. Not only does he say that he is a jealous God, but he claims that his name is Jealous. Jealousy is one of his defining characteristics. This is exclusive jealousy, righteous jealousy, because there is no blessing outside of a relationship YHWH whose name is Jealous. This covenant relationship is an exclusive covenant. When you enter into the covenant of marriage, you vow to forsake all others and to be faithful only, exclusively to your marriage partner. You can’t take that vow before God and then turn around and enter into another marriage covenant with someone else. It is exclusive. The same is true for this covenant with God. God is saying that a covenant with him is incompatible with entering into covenant relationships with any of the idolatrous people of the land. God was alerting the people to the danger of becoming unequally yoked with unbelievers (2Cor.6:14). It may seem innocent at first, but it leads to idolatry and God views idolatry as adultery. From God’s perspective, idolatry is equivalent to your wife sneaking out on your honeymoon and prostituting herself with other men. This is valid cause for white-hot holy jealousy, pursuing purifying jealousy. This is the passionate jealousy that says ‘I love you, and I want better for you than that.’ Understand, God’s requirements are not oppressive burdens that prohibit pleasure, but rather are for our protection so that we can experience and enjoy his blessing.

The Feasts and Rest

Next, God reminds his people of his appointed feasts and rest.

18 “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt. 19 All that open the womb are mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. 20 The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed. 21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. 22 You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. 23 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.

Here God reminds the people of his requirement that they feast. This is his mandatory demand that they celebrate. Remember what the people did with the golden calf? ‘they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play’. They wanted a party. God is reminding them, ‘I want you to celebrate, I designed you to enjoy my presence, I require that you to rest and be refreshed and enjoy the relationship we have. I am providing, no, demanding that you take time to enjoy your relationship with me. What I offer is so much better than the cheap counterfeits you try to find satisfaction in.’

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was connected to Passover. It was a memorial feast, a feast to remember God’s past faithfulness to them. This is a feast commemorating what the Lord did for you in bringing you out of Egypt. In this, God exerts his ownership over all his people. God redeemed the people from Egypt. He bought them. They belong to him. He owns them. The redemption of the firstborn is a reminder that God has rights over his people. We are his possession. We are his.

The Sabbath was one day out of seven to rest and remember and worship and enjoy. Even at the busiest times of the year, the most demanding times, he requires that his people rest and celebrate him.

The Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Ingathering were two celebrations related to God’s provision for his people; the firstfruits, or Pentecost; and then the final harvest at the end of the season. Attendance at these feasts is not optional; it is mandatory.

And with this is the promise of God’s sovereign protection. You don’t have to worry that while everyone is away worshiping me that someone is going to sneak in and steal your stuff. ‘I will drive out your enemies. I will enlarge your borders. I will protect and care for my people.’

25 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover remain until the morning. 26 The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

God demands purity and perfect obedience to his laws. God asks for the first and the best, because we reserve the first and best for the one we love the most. I will save the first and best for the love of my life. If I always keep the first and best for myself, I am showing that I love myself more than anyone else. God requires that we demonstrate with our possessions that he has first place in our hearts, that we love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength; not with our words only, but with our lives, with our possessions. This is not because God is needy and hungry and broke, looking to us to provide his needs. This is evidence of our affections for him. This is evidence that in our hearts we are keeping the covenant we have made. This would provide a regular opportunity to check my heart and my motives. If I am grudging and grumpy and stingy toward God, then that shows me that my heart is not in the right place; that my heart has abandoned the covenant. If I am joyful and eager and generous toward God, that is evidence that my affections are in line with the covenant relationship.

Words Written

27 And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

God tells Moses to ‘write these words’. God has a strange fixation with words and writing. God invented words. In the beginning God spoke. God gave us the gift of communication. God speaks to us and God speaks with us. And God is not satisfied with oral tradition, that is open to the interpretation of the storyteller, open to distortion and manipulation and change. God demands that his words be put in writing. God uses words to communicate clearly with his people, and he gives us his words in writing, so that is not dependent on our memory or the memory of the storyteller. We can look at the word written and know. We are not left to guess or to wonder. We can read the written words and know where we stand. It is black and white. This covenant between God and his people was not a vague fuzzy sort of relationship. He puts it in writing. He will hold us to it. We agreed and he will call us to account. And he expects us to hold him to it. He made a covenant with us and put it in writing, and we should know it and love it and call him on it to be faithful to his covenant.

God is fanatical about words. God thinks his words are important.

Psalm 138:2 …for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

God’s word is powerful.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

God thinks his words are true.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (cf. 2Sam.22:31; Ps.18:30)

God’s word will endure.

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Jesus said:

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

God’s word is penetrating

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 written is able to save.

2 Timothy 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus says that God’s word gives and sustains life

Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

God is so fanatical about his words that he named his only Son ‘The Word’.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Hebrews tells us how God spoke.

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

At the end of Revelation we see Jesus show up again.

Revelation 19:13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

The New Covenant

God takes his word very seriously. We should too. That’s why I want to look one more time at verse 10 of Exodus 34 before we close.

Exodus 34:10 And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

We see these words being fulfilled in the book of Joshua, as the people enter the promised land and conquer their enemies. But I think it is bigger than that. I think it points ahead to the New Covenant that God makes with us. “I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation.” What is more marvelous than God becoming flesh, being born of a virgin, living a perfect human life, taking upon himself the sins of the world, dying in our place, and getting back up from the dead! “And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life. Jesus comes to make his home in you. This is an awesome thing that he is doing with you! Are the people around you seeing the relationship you have with Jesus? Are the people among whom you are seeing the work of the LORD? That it is not you working but him at work in you? God promised to drive out the enemies. Our enemies are not Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perrizites, Hivites and Jebusites. Our enemies are things like lust, anger, pride, idolatry, unbelief, self-centeredness, self-sufficiency, evil desires, envy, lies, greed, discontent, bitterness, unforgiveness. Do you see God driving these enemies of your soul out of your life? Are those around you seeing the work of the LORD? Is it an awesome thing that he is doing with you?

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

October 7, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment