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March 24, 2021 12:01 am
God gave the law to ancient Israel, and the proper response was to be a response of worship. Today, R.C. Sproul considers the law in Exodus, refreshing our sense of reverence and awe before the living God.
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God gave ancient Israel, the law and he expected it to be followed. But I want us to understand that though much of the content of the 10 Commandments deals with how we are to relate with each other as human beings in a human community were not the steel were not the covered were not to bear false witness will not to kill were not to commit adultery, and so on that at the beginning of the law. The focus of the divine mandate is on worship. Sometimes the 10 Commandments as repressive way of controlling people today are Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul takes us back to the book of Exodus to show us how and why God gave the law will come away with a greater appreciation for God's perfection and holiness. Remember when I was a student in seminary and I was concerned about what was going on in the church and in the culture at the time and I had an opportunity to speak privately with Dr. Gerstner who was my mentor and I sent him. Dr. Gerstner how do you assess the current situation of the world and of the church. He thought for a second frown came on his face.
He furled his four head. Then he said were standing between Meg Dall and the sea and what we need in our day is for God to send us a Moses who will raise his hand so that the sea will be separated and we can move across on dry ground up Dr. Gerstner was an Orthodox theologian. He was not calling for the recapitulation of the Old Testament Exodus and assuming that we really want another Moses when we've already had the second Moses and the one who was greater than Moses who has, and it was held up his hands and opened up the very portals of heaven that we could enter in, but Gerstner was speaking metaphorically but it was interesting to me that he chose a metaphor borrowed from the Old Testament book of Exodus, because after the Passover meal was eaten and there was morning and moaning and wailing in the house of Pharaoh, and in every Egyptian home in the land and the Scripture was fulfilled that not even a dogs tongue wide against the children of Israel that now Pharaoh not only said you may go but he said he drove them out of the land get out of here as fast as you can.
No sooner did he dismiss the Jewish people that they could go out into the wilderness to serve their God. But again had a change of heart. And again, his heart was hardened and he ordered his soldiers and their chariots to go in pursuit of the fleeing slave labor core of Jewish people that they may be stopped and halted less. They escape altogether in this all takes place when this horde of hundreds of thousands of people under the leadership of Moses comes now to the edge of the Red Sea and before them. Is this impassable body of water, and they looked around to see if there were room to retreat and what they saw it coming behind them.
From Meg Dall for the hosts of the chariots of Pharaoh and so in that moment of crisis. The whole nation of Israel stood between Meg dull and the sea, and it was at that point.
Could Moses raised his hand and God because the great wind to blow that lifted the waters and separated them and dried up the bed of the sea so that the Jewish people could walk across the sea on dry land and no sooner do they go into the city and are passing over on the dry land that the arrival of the chariots of the Egyptians comes the past and the army of Egypt pursues into the Red Sea, but as that army gets inside that corridor that God had provided for his people as a way of escape. He brought the waves crashing and destroyed them that his people could remain unharmed.
Now I know that some critical scholars have been skeptical about the event of the Exodus and have argued that what the Bible calls the Red Sea was really the read. See is a very shallow water Bay piece of water that people could simply walk across without the benefit of any miracle. Some of argued it was only 4 to 6 inches deep. At certain times of the year and even the normal blowing of the wind would be enough to to lower the level of water there making it safe to Passover and I'm reminded of the story of the little boy who went to Sunday school and his teacher was equipped with all of these modern critical theories in the Sunday school teacher explained the children that it wasn't the Red Sea was the Regency and so what so boy came home after church and his father said to what did you learn in Sunday school today little boy said I learned that God is really powerful and he said why is that he said I found out this morning that God drowned the whole army of Pharaoh in 6 inches of water so that the reality of this moment is recorded for us in the annals of the Old Testament. It is the climactic moment that is followed now by a period of safety for three months. The Jewish people wonder about the desert floor under the leadership of Moses and God leading them with the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire until the next decisive moments comes to pass, when God gathers his people at the base of Mount Sinai for the purpose of creating a nation out of them for the purpose of giving them his covenant law now if I ask people where do you find the 10 Commandments in the Old Testament. Many Christians are quick to answer and said what we find that in Exodus 20. And that's true, but so often we read Exodus 20 in isolation from the context in which it is given. Exodus 21 is very important because Exodus 21 goes beyond the 10 Commandments to give the expanded contents of the law that is delivered by God to his people, but I think even more importantly for our concern right now is what's found in chapter 19 of the book of Exodus, which gives us a picture of the historical situation in which the law of the Decalogue, the 10 Commandments was given. We read in chapter 19 verse one. These words in the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day they came to the wilderness of Sinai, for they had departed from refit him had come to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness and so Israel camped there before the mountain and Moses went up to God and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel.
You 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, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people for all the earth is mine and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
I had a conversation recently with John Piper.
We were at dinner and he was sitting across from me at the table and he began to talk to me about his sense of urgency in preaching Sunday mornings and he got more exercises. He was explaining his passion, he said. Or see what I want my people to understand what I try as hard as I can to communicate to them is the same motif the same idea again and again and again I say what John what is he said what I'm trying to communicate is the supremacy of God. And that's what's going on here. God has demonstrated his supremacy by showing his power and victory over Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt, and now he gathers his people to himself and instructs the mediator of the Old Testament Moses to say, look what I have done for you.
I have borne you on the wings of Eagles.
I have carried you to this place and now I am going to make you my treasure, I'm going to make of you a nation that is holy, a nation of priests that you may minister in my name to all of the world. And so we read then in verse 10 that Moses spoke to the people of the Lord and the Lord said to Moses, go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their clothes and let them be ready for the third day on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people, and you shall set boundaries for the people all around saying, take heed to yourselves that you do not go up the mountain or touch its base for whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death, not a hand shall touch him but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow, whether man or beast, he shall not live in when the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near to the mountain of one of the reasons why one of the start in chapter 19. Instead of just plunging directly into the Decalogue, as is recorded in Exodus 20 is that we have a tendency today to take the 10 Commandments and extrapolate them from the historical and theological context in which they were given reduce them to an abstract list of rules of do's and don'ts and speak of them simply in terms of law, and we fail to understand that the context in which they were given was the context of redemption in the context of the covenant that God was making for his people and the proper response to the law of God was to be a response of worship. In fact, God will not even give them his law until first they spend three days in a ritual of purification and of cleansing that the people may be set apart and consecrated before God.
Auditors, the very first commandment.
And he sets all kinds of parameters here. He says to Moses. Moses you can come up on the mountain and I will meet with you there, and I will speak to you I will give you the law of my covenant, and after three days of court consecration purification. For the trumpet will sound, and all of the people of Israel will gather at the base of the mountain, but make it plain to them that not one of them is allowed to set foot on this mountain or even to touch because of anyone touches this holy mountain, that person shall be executed either by stoning or by being shot with an arrow, and even if their dogs are there their livestock approach and bump up against the side of the mountain, they shall be summarily executed because this is a holy moment to see the entire drawl of the Old Testament has to do with the meeting over and over again of a God who is holy and of people who are not, and from the fall in paradise. From the time God sent the angel with the flaming force is flaming sword as a sensible gardening regarding the entry to Eden. We have been held at a distance from the immediate presence of God and so that motif is contained here with the giving of the law and then we read this record that it came to pass on the third day.
Verse 16 of chapter 19 in the morning that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain and the sound of the trumpet was very loud so that all who were so that all of the people who were in the camp trembled and Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain and now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire.
Listen to the visual graphic images that are used to describe this event in the morning of the occasion. There is this thick cloud. This dense fog that is covering the entire pinnacle of Sinai. So the people can see nothing but this paper. This missed and an occasional flash of lightning and the booming and roaring of thunder and so with that with the fog.
The thunder and lightning. The people who approach the base of this mountain, the people who approach the base of the mountain are trapped like I want us to miss that because religion in our day is casual.
It's cavalier. We think nothing of approaching the presence of God in the most cavalier way possible. We speak of God as if he were up here a body that we can hang out with. Somehow in the church we have lost our sense of reverence.
Our sense of all before the living God. People pay attention to these moments of encounter in Old Testament history because the God who manifests himself here at Mount Sinai has not changed his nature.
One bit since that day, and it is still appropriate even for those who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Even for those who are invited to come boldly into the heavenly place even for those who experience redemption to still have a sense of trembling before God. We know the great black spiritual were you there when they crucified my Lord, in the refrain we hear again and again. Sometimes it causes me to tremble. God comes down and he comes down in his normal theophany theophany is the outward manifestation.
The visible manifestation of the invisible God, and the one made manner of theophany that is used more often than any other in Scripture is the manifestation of some kind of fire, even as God had appeared to Moses initially in the burning bush the bush that was not consumed. So now he descendents as fire, and the cloud becomes not a cloud of mist and fog, not a deep, dense cloud of smoke from the presence of God. Sinai was completely and smoke it. Smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quite greatly.
And when the blast of the trumpet sound of longing became louder and louder. Moses spoke and God answered him by voice.
And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai to the top of the mountain and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up and the Lord spoke to Moses and he said go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord and many of them perish and let the priest to come near the Lord consecrate themselves bless the Lord break out against them. Isn't that an interesting phrase. Bless the Lord break out with talk about a breakout of war thing a breakout or an epidemic of some infectious disease but here the Bible speaks of the outbreak and of the Lord.
If God breaks out the people perish.
So Moses said to the Lord. The people cannot come up the Mount Sinai for you warned us saying set bounds around the mountain and consecrated and is in this context that we read in verse 25 of chapter 19 so Moses went down to the people and spoke to them and God spoke all these words, saying I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before again before the first commandment is uttered the people were reminded of who it was, whose law was being given I am the one who brought you out on the land of Egypt.
I am the one who brought you out of bondage and then he gives the 10 words, the Decalogue, the rights with his own finger on tablets of stone but I want us to understand that though much of the content of the 10 Commandments deals with how we are to relate with each other as human beings in a human community were not the steel were not the covered were not to bear false witness will not to kill were not to commit adultery, and so on that at the beginning of the law.
The focus of the divine mandate is on worship and how people are to relate to him. No other gods before. No making of graven images not taking his name in vain.
Remembering the Sabbath day, to keep it holy know we also have a tendency to think that that's the whole law, and instead, the 10 Commandments are only the foundational law for the whole what's called the book of the covenant were the Holiness code of ancient Israel for chapter after chapter after Exodus 20 we get a list of further principles of legislation and the differences found chiefly in the literary form in which they come to us the 10 Commandments are expressed in terms of what's called apodictic law and apodictic law is that law that is communicated in the literary form of personal address. Thou shalt word thou shalt not. These are the absolute categories that God requires in terms of obedience from his people, then what follows the apodictic law is what's called the casuistry claw for the case law of Israel, and it is expressed in the literary formula of the conditional statement or what's called the then if your ox gores your neighbors donkey, then such and such penalties have to be paid. That is the case law are examples of particular applications of the universal law of the Decalogue showing that the law of God applies concretely to every conceivable human situation.
So not only do you get the moral absolutes in the Decalogue, but then you get a list of specific examples of how that absolute law is to be followed through in the lives of the people, so the laws that follow in Israel are laws that determine the ceremonies civil legislation medical diagnostic principles, but most importantly, as we see in the Old Testament sought Sinai itself. The law of God is given each of us how to worship and agree perspective. The entire law must be viewed through the lens of God's holiness and his perfection. He is worthy of our obedience. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Wednesday Bible. He wept and this week we are privileged to bring you several messages from the Old Testament portion of Dr. RC Sproul's classic series just to glory in 57 messages.
RC explores the major themes events and people that we find in Scripture as he makes his way through every book he helps us see how the story fits together is vital for us to understand how the Old Testament connects with the new and RC helps us do that in this series we like to send you the special edition eight DVD set of the series is contact us with your donation of any amount and we will include an extra disc that contains the study guide for the series. You can find us firstname.lastname@example.org or you can cause with your gift at 800-435-4343. Look at your ministries exist to support believers and churches around the world teaching series like this one brings sound biblical doctrine of people you and I may never meet than in countries we will never visit so we thank you for your financial support and when you give your gift today.
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Dr. Spruill helps us understand the meaning of the tabernacle. Many things in the New Testament make more sense when we understand this Old Testament structure so I hope you'll join us again Thursday for Renewing Your Mind