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096 - Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2022 1:00 pm

096 - Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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May 28, 2022 1:00 pm

Episode 096 - Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? (28 May 2022) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, what makes you tremble inside? Tremble? You know what makes me tremble is when the ground trembles and earthquakes. An earthquake? That makes me tremble. How about thunder?

Thunder? Not so much. Well, when it's really close. If it's right over my head. I can feel it going through you.

Absolutely. Well, today we're going to see what happens in the desert that's going to make the people of Israel tremble as the mountain trembles today on More Than Ink. Wonderful. Good morning to you. I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And you've joined us as we are walking our way through Exodus. And we're walking with them in the desert, kind of.

Well, yeah. And this section where we come to Exodus is where they come to the mountain, come to Sinai. And so this is one of those passages in Exodus that everybody's a little bit familiar with but may not really be aware of what the details are.

Yeah. So the quick recap was they were in Egypt at the beginning of Exodus. God called Moses to come back to Egypt to lead them out. He leads them out. They get to the Red Sea. They've got parts of the Red Sea.

God drowns the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. And they push off into the desert. They've had some, well, they've had some adventures in the desert. A little grumbling.

A little grumbling, yeah. A few unexpected things. Massa and Meribah, some attacks from Amalek, places that are supposed to have water and don't have water. But they've also had the cloud. The cloud. The presence of God.

The cloud by day and the fire by night. Yeah, that's a wonderful thing. And they follow it where it goes. And they've been receiving manna.

Yeah. And so all this time, as we start into chapter 19, we see that we're just barely three months out of Egypt at this point. It's like exactly because it says at the beginning of chapter 19, this is the third new moon. This is the third new moon. When they set out from Rephidim and they came here at the third new moon, boom, three months in there at Sinai.

So if you're trying to get oriented, we're just three months out from Egypt. And remember that Sinai, this is a place that's familiar to Moses. This is the mountain of God. His old stomping ground. He's been here before. This is the place where God revealed himself back in chapter three. I am who I am. Right.

Go and bring my people out. So this is where he got that instruction. Yeah, that's right. So today we have kind of a face to face with God in a way.

Well, let's look at it and say, well, you can't quite say face to face, but it's about as close as you're going to be. Well, yeah, because there's this interesting pattern here where Moses goes up and goes down and goes up and goes down back and forth between God and the people. And I think if you are drawing your biblical understanding from the movies. Right. You think Moses just went up on the mountain one time and he came down with the thing and told the people.

Well, not exactly so. They camped at Sinai for roughly a year. And so that's right.

They get here. And just in this chapter 19, we see Moses going up, coming down, going up, coming down, going up. Yeah. So that's an interesting pattern. Yeah. And so it's a good thing you point out this encampment because they have been walking for about three weeks, three months now.

Three months, yeah. And this scene, now that we're camped at the base of Mount Sinai, this scene where we're encamped here will be here for a year plus. And I counted up out of curiosity how many chapters in the Bible are devoted to what happens where they're camped right now. Wait, chapters in Exodus or chapters in the whole Bible? Chapters in the Bible. Oh.

And I counted up more than 50 and I gave up counting after that. Oh, interesting. So this is the play. We're going to be here for a while at this encampment at the foot of the mountain and big things are going to happen.

So let's just dive in and see what happens. But remember, this is a keen juncture in the life of Israel where they're going from being slaves where other people tell you how to live and how the culture is supposed to run. And now God is sculpting a nation and a culture and a society with him at the center of it. So these are some of the first steps to get that set. So read for us, chapter 19, Exodus.

I love this part. I'm going to read the first six verses before we stop. So beginning in chapter 19, on the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain 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, You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. 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 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.

Okay, we have to stop there because that is a jaw dropping statement. Yeah, and it's a huge, it's a huge overview of the whole future of Israel right here in one fell swoop. Well, and he addresses them, the house of Jacob and the people of Israel, which hearkens back to the promise made to Abraham, right? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Jacob's 12 sons became the people of Israel, right? The sons of Israel. But then they are about to be grown into the nation. So God is, you know, setting them squarely in context, you need to know who you are, and need to know who I am.

This is a transforming situation where we're going to, we're going to form a country that's not like anything that's ever happened before. Yeah, and it's really interesting to me. Okay, so while I have the microphone, I'm going to blab a little bit. These first three verses, did you count how many times we're told they went into the wilderness, they went to the wilderness of Sinai, they camped there, they camped in the wilderness, they camped in the wilderness of Sinai. Over and over and over again, three or four times in those three verses, like God is just driving home. They're out here at this holy place. There's nothing else to do.

You are here to meet with God. That's right. That's exactly right.

And without God, they'd be hopeless out here in the desert, in the wilderness. Right. And God is literally in the biggest picture again, taking them from a wilderness of existence as slaves in Egypt, and as wanderers in the desert, into a home that he's prepared for them. Well, giving them an identity. Yeah, yeah.

This is a big deal. He's saying to them, you know, you know what I've done for you, you saw me do it, right, in verses four and five and six. But he says, I bore you on eagle's wings, and I brought you to myself.

Yeah, I think that's a fascinating distinction. That's at the end of verse four. He's not bringing them to the wilderness or bringing them to the promised land, he's bringing them to himself.

Bring you to me. Fundamentally, this nation that is being birthed right here before our very eyes is a nation that is founded on a relationship with God himself. Yes, a relationship. And that's just, that's profoundly true here and all through the rest of the Old and New Testament, is that society and God's best desire for us in terms of how we live is always in relationship with him. Well, and he uses that imagery of I bore you on eagle's wings, right? How does an eagle do? An eagle comes down and plucks what it's after and just bears it away beyond sight, right?

That's right. God just literally lifted them out of where they were and brought them to this holy place so he could establish this relationship with them. Yeah, and this made me think of a passage in Deuteronomy 32, and when you talk about the eagles and about the care involved with the eagles.

So when Moses is recounting this, the entire thing, this is near the end of his commentary on the history in 3211. He says, like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, nice protective, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions. The Lord alone guided him.

No foreign God was with him. So that's the picture here. God is actually taking care of them like a mighty eagle.

Yeah. So he brings them out with great power to himself, to himself. And then look what he promises them. So now there is a little bit of a conditional statement here, not a little bit. It's a big conditional statement in verse five. Now, therefore, right, because I brought you to myself because of who you are.

Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be. And then he names these three things. But we need to stop for a minute on those two words that are translated here, obey and keep. Because these two Hebrew words, we find them together, linked together all through the first five books. And many times we get lazy and presume they mean the same thing. They do not mean the same thing. They do not mean the same thing.

And they don't even necessarily mean the first surface thing, right? Because obey is that Hebrew word shema. It really means listen up. Listen, pay heed to. Listen, pay heed to.

Listen with a heart that is prepared to respond appropriately. If you will indeed listen to my voice, right, let it penetrate you and keep my covenant. So that keep means to treasure, to guard carefully. Now, that takes on a little flavor when God says the next thing and you will be my treasure, right? If you treasure me, I will treasure you. So if we look to him and listen to him and treasure what he says in the covenant, then he will treasure us. And if you, of course, whatever you treasure, you guard, you pay attention to, that means it's in the foremost of your thinking all the time.

So the next logical thing is, of course, you will keep it. You will pay attention to what God has said if you are treasuring his words. And too bad, many times it gets mischaracterized as works righteousness. Like if you do all those things, God will love you.

And that's not really the case at all here. No, he already said I love you. He already says I love you, yeah.

The deal here is in a very authentic kind of way. Do you look to the Lord? Do you listen to him? Do you wait on him? Do you treasure everything he says? Do you realize that relationship with him is the core of life itself?

Do you treasure that? If you do, you'll do what he says. I mean, that's just the way it is. If you understand how much he loves you, and he says, well, I love you, so I'm giving you this advice. Well, it's more than advice. It's a covenant idea. And if you live inside that covenant, you'll find life. I love you, and if you're going to live in a love relationship with me, these are the things that will follow. You know, it occurs to me, Jesus even said that. If you love me, you'll obey what I say. You'll keep my commandments.

Yeah, so it's exactly the same kind of thing. And it's very authentic. It's not a matter of earning God's respect. It's a matter of God already treasures you, and if you treasure who he is, you'll do this naturally anyway. But let's look at these three things, because he says, if you obey and keep, you will be my treasure, my special treasure among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. So those things show up in Peter's writing.

They show up in Revelation, the idea of being a kingdom of priests and other places. But it occurs to me that this also is a reaching back to the covenant with Abraham. When God said to Abraham, I will, in you, I will bless all the nations of the earth. I'll make you a blessing. I will bless you and all the nations. Yeah, so the blessing is not meant to stop and pool up in Israel.

It's meant to flow through Israel almost as an invitation to the larger world. That they especially belong to God as an example, as a gift, as a kingdom of priests who serve the rest of the world. Right. On behalf of the God they belong to. Which helps us understand why they're called priests.

Right. It's not just a religious right kind of thing. It's the fact that God's saying, I'm going to use you to be the go-betweens between me and the rest of the world. And what's beautiful about this is that when Peter picks it up in 1 Peter 2, he is addressing the Gentile church. The Gentile church.

And you were not a people, but now you are a people, right? You're a kingdom of priests, holy to God, to proclaim the excellencies of the one who called you out of darkness. So Peter clearly understood by the New Testament times that this promise made to Israel, fulfilled in Christ, now extends to those who are children of Abraham by faith. So you could almost say that God establishes Israel for kind of evangelistic purposes, mission purposes.

That's a fair statement. As a way at a nation level to say to the world, this is my intention for all mankind. And what I usually call it is Israel is like a model nation in a sense.

They're going to demonstrate in the flesh. And even he says right here, you're a holy nation. And holy just means set apart, you're different. You're going to be a different people on purpose. And that difference, that set apartness that I'm going to establish, people will see that and say, there's something different about these people. And they can say, yeah, we have God at the center of our relationship. So as the chapter unfolds, God's going to drive home to the meaning of this holiness, this separation.

The separatedness, yeah. I guess we need to press on, but I'd like to spend about three weeks on this chapter. These verses there from the middle of three to the end of six are really, I mean that is like the headline of all of the Old Testament in a sense. If you wonder how Israel fits into God's plans, this is it right here.

And so God's going to start unfolding how that's going to work out in the next verses. I've delivered you and brought you out to be mine. To be mine.

Special relationship with me. To be treasured, exactly. Yeah, I looked through as well how many times in Deuteronomy that whole idea about priests and treasured nations. Boy, that shows up a lot. It goes again and again and again.

Yeah, over and over, Deuteronomy. Okay, well let's pick up in seven. We'll keep moving along.

Okay. So much to look at. So Moses came and called the elders of the people and said before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. Okay, so he had gone up the mountain.

He went up once. To hear that from God. And then he came, comes down, calls the elders of the people, said before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, all the Lord spoke and we will do. Oh yeah, we're in, we're in. And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

So here he must have gone back up. Right, right. And the Lord said to Moses, behold, I'm coming to you in a thick cloud that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe you forever. Okay, so that hear right there is the same word that's translated as obey. Obey, yeah.

Back in verse five. So we're talking about hearing with penetration. Listening.

Letting it sink into you. Letting it go in, yeah. Yeah. And this demonstration of the cloud is so that people can look and say, I guess this is God talking to Moses. Right. So what he says next is coming from God.

Right. So when Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day, the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people and you shall set limits for the people all around saying, take care not to go up onto the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot. Whether beast or man, he shall not live.

When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain. So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, be ready for the third day, do not go near a woman. Do we need to pause there for a minute? Yeah, let's pause there just for a second.

So he's, the Lord said to Moses to kind of get them filled in. And it's interesting, he says there's going to be a three day delay, you know, and on the third day you need to consecrate yourself now, which is like, put aside everything. Well, it takes them three days. Get bathed, wash your clothes, get cleaned up. But this is an important event.

Like when I go to a wedding, I, you know, put on a tie and I get cleaned up and stuff. There are days of preparation. So this is a respectful preparation for the appearance of God himself. He's coming near, they've got three days to do this. And so it's just a warning that here it comes, be ready. That's the potterator, be ready for the third day. Coincidence about the third day thing.

Funny thing about that. Yeah, that sort of shows up in a lot of places like, oh, the resurrection. The appearance of Jesus from the dead or the appearance here of God himself.

Where God, when God reveals himself and his power. Right. Yeah, so that's what we're looking at. Let's go on to 16. Okay. I'll read this. Okay.

Okay. So on the morning of the third day, here it comes. There were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast so that all the people in the camp trembled. And then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. To meet God.

Ooh. And they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now, Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. And the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him in thunder. And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai to the top of the mountain and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up.

We'll stop there. So here's the big meeting. The big meeting at the top of the mountain. Have you ever wondered where the trumpets came from here? Well, you know, I wondered that question. Is the Lord himself blowing the trumpets?

I think so. You know, we have trumpets in Revelation that angels are blowing. Yeah, and in ancient societies, you know, you mustered everyone together with loud blasts of trumpets.

They were ways to coordinate attention is what they were. And so here's God doing that. I think he's blowing them from heaven.

Yeah. So we're ready. God comes down and smoke on the top of the mountain. Moses goes up and now they're going to meet face to face. So did you notice that in verse 16 the people trembled at the trumpet blast and then in verse 18 the whole mountain trembled. The mountain trembled. When God touches down, the earth trembles.

It's a big event. And creation itself is trembling. Well, let's find out what happens up there. 21. Okay.

Go ahead. And the Lord said to Moses, go down and warn the people lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. And let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves lest the Lord break out against them. And Moses said to the Lord, the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai for you yourself warned us saying set limits around the mountain that's consecrated. God knows the people but Moses does at this point.

He knows they're going to sneak in there. Verse 24. And the Lord said to him, go down and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord lest he break out against them.

So Moses went down to the people and told them. Yeah. So he's gone up and down and up and down and up and down. This is a pattern we've seen.

Well, it's taken place over a course of days. It's a good literal picture of an intercessor. Exactly. So that's the pattern I think that's being laid down here.

It's very visually clear that Moses at this point is the mediator between God and Israel. Exactly. Exactly.

And it's very visible. And they also just by this restraint of not going up the mountain, staying within outside the line of the mountain. Right. They know that God is coming there. He's going to do some purposes there which he hasn't told us quite yet what it's all about.

But he's coming there and the people can come up close but they can't come near him. Right. And that's the gigantic message here.

That's also doubled over when we look at the tabernacle and the Temple of John. Right. Right. God is in our midst and it should bring trembling and fear because of his power. And you can come near but you can't, I mean you can come close but you can't come near.

Well, you can only even come nearby invitation. Yeah. And only according to God's direction, God's instruction. Right. There's only one way to approach this holy God. God is driving home here the separation between a holy God and a sinful people. Yeah, it's a separation that we ourselves because of our sin imposed. Right. And so this is exactly what God's saying.

He's saying he loves them and he wants to be in their midst but they just can't come close because of sin. That's the problem. So we had the word consecrate repeated and repeated and repeated.

You know, to consecrate something means to cleanse it in order to devote it to God. Right. So this is serious business here. Yeah. I mean it's like a single focus.

You're only single focused on one thing. That's the consecration. I'm consecrated for this one thing and I put everything else aside for a second. Yeah. So did it occur to you, why such elaborate warnings and precautions?

Why is it so dangerous? Well because of judgment of being God's presence. Perhaps. Yeah.

Oh yeah, yeah. And interestingly enough Moses is allowed up there and we could ask a lot of questions about what this is meant to symbolize. But I've always wondered whether Moses himself was terrified of this entire process.

Well, you know, we have seen Moses growing from this first encounter with God here through the plagues in Egypt, through learning to be a leader during these beginning months in the wilderness. And now, you know, he is aware of the holiness of God but he also is aware that he has been invited in. Yep.

Right? God has initiated this relationship. God's the one that called him out of the burning bush in the first place.

That's right. So God's in charge of this and he can allow Moses to come up there. But again, you know, the big problem here, even when you get to the temple later on, is that with God living in the midst of Israel, even still, you know, 90% of what they did at the temple was consumed with taking care of the problem of their own personal sin. Sacrifices that went on and stuff like that. So sin is an ever present problem that's in the periphery of the temple, in the periphery of the nearness of God.

That's a deal killer. You can't come any closer than those, which is why you actually have to get past the sacrifice area to go into where God is. The sin has to be dealt with. So very visibly, we're seeing here that God loves his people but his people have a problem with sin and so they cannot come near to a God who's holy and just and whose present sin cannot be.

But they're riddled with it. Well, and he said to them, now if you hear my voice and keep my covenant, right, regard me as holy. Listen to what I tell you and respond appropriately. Remember who you are and who I am. That's the basis on which we come to God.

You can't just come blithely tripping in. Yep, yep. But still, I come back to the fact that they and us are his treasured possession.

Yes. We are his treasured possession, but we are a treasured possession that's flawed by sin of our own making. And there's the conflict in the entire Bible. Well, that's the whole point of why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Right. To demonstrate the love of God, right? God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. And I'm struck here, too, that God is creating a relationship with the nation of Israel that's based on his words.

Yes. Which is very interesting. On his communication. On his communication. And to this very day, our relationship with God is built on his word and its truth of his word in the Bible. I mean, that's the essence of it all.

And here, the entire nation of Israel is doing this. So they're understanding that this is a God who wants to communicate with us clearly. Well. And he can do so.

Does it strike you? This is a God who speaks. A God who speaks. It's not a God that we have to impress or bring offerings to in order to provoke him to speak. Right.

God has already opened the conversation. He has taken the initiative. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And now he's going to use Israel as they follow the covenant to be a spokesman for him in the rest of the world, which is why he says to Abraham, And all the nations will be blessed through you.

This is the plan. And sort of as an echo of that pattern, he's establishing Moses as this type of mediator, right? Yes. Because 1 Timothy 2, 5, and 6 says there's one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. The man Christ Jesus. He gave his life as a ransom at the right time. Well, Moses is not fulfilling that part of the type, but he is picturing.

A lot of it. The one mediator between God and men. Who goes between heaven and earth. Yeah. In a figurative way. Yeah, that's exactly right. You know, before we leave this, because we've run out of time, and we're going to get to what God says at the top of the mountain next time. Oh, yes.

That's so good. But I had to go back to Hebrews 12. Because in Hebrews 12, there's a fascinating contrast that the writer of Hebrews does between Mount Sinai, which is what we're looking at here.

Fearful, trembling, fire, smoke, don't come near, all that kind of stuff. And the contrast in the new covenant, which is Mount Zion. And so this is what he says about our coming to this new covenant of Mount Zion. This is in Hebrews 12, verse 18.

Oh, it's so good. If you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, a darkness, a gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. That's what we were just talking about. For they could not endure the order that was given, if even a beast touches the mountain and shall be stoned. Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, I tremble with fear. But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels and festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who were enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of evil.

Wow. Well, we are out of time. We hope you join us next time as we find out exactly what God says to Moses.

And I think you know what he says. So join us next time. But you still might be surprised.

You might be surprised, yeah. So come back next time for More Than Ink. More Than Ink. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content. To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, morethanink.org. Hey, hey. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. We'll call that quits. I think so.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-12 06:38:30 / 2023-04-12 06:51:17 / 13

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