Monday, July 31, 2023

Exodus: Going with God #14 - Going Where God Dwells

Exodus: Going with God #14 - Going Where God Dwells

Text: Ex 25-27; 30:1-31:18; 35:1-40:38,

God, the creator of the universe is, as the Bible reveals Him, is infinite and omnipresent. He is without limit, and He is in all places at all times. And though God is infinite and omnipresent in our passage from Exodus today, God tells Moses, “Let the people of Israel make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell with them.” God who fills the universe and has no limit, confined Himself, for a time, to a tent in the middle of the desert so that He could live with his people, that His people might come to know Him.

The tabernacle is a paradox about God’s nature and also truth about God’s relationship to all His people. Knowing and understanding the lesson of the Tabernacle in the wilderness will help us to know and understand more of God and our relationship with Him through Jesus today.

J I Packer wrote a book about Knowing God in it he said, “Not many of us, I think, would ever naturally say that we have known God. The words imply a definiteness and matter-of-factness of experience to which most of us, if we are honest, have to admit that we are still strangers.  We claim, perhaps, to have a testimony, and can rattle off our conversion story with the best of them; we say that we know God- this, after all, is what we are expected to say; but would it occur to us to say, without hesitation, and with reference to particular events in our personal history, that we have known God?  I doubt it, for I suspect that with most of us our experience of God has never become so vivid as that.” - J.I. Packer “Knowing God” Packer goes on to show that the only way to know God is through His attributes, character and person as seen in His word. The study of the Tabernacle is part of the revelation of knowing Him.

Lets start in Exodus 25:1-9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. 3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, 4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, 5 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, 6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, 7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

It is worth noting that God who could command the people to do whatever He wanted them to do, does not command them to give their offerings for the building of the Tabernacle. Instead, He makes it very clear to Moses, “that they bring me an offering of every man that gives it willingly with his heart.” The building of the Tabernacle, the place where God would dwell with man would only be built by those things that were freely given. The Hebrews had to be willing to give for God’s dwelling place in the wilderness and we must be willing to give ourselves in order to fully let God dwell in our hearts and lives.

The people would bring their offerings and God had Moses and his craftsmen collect those materials along with the pattern, the plan that God gave Moses and Tabernacle was built. That pattern we see in the Tabernacle was also a prophecy of the person of Jesus Christ and of His relationship and dwelling place with us today.

Let’s begin with the Outer Court.

Going Into the Outer Court: Salvation

Entering The Outer Court

The Wall

All around the tabernacle was a courtyard that was formed by a wall of linen curtains hung upon columns and rods.

Exodus 27:9-10 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: 10 And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.

Surrounding the tabernacle on all sides was a wall made of fine woven linen. It stood on posts made of shittim or acacia wood with bases of bronze and capitals of silver.

Now a cubit is roughly 18 inches or 1 1/2 feet in length.  Keeping this in mind the tabernacle courtyard was 100 x 50 cubits or 150 x 75 ft.

There were 60 posts: 20 posts on the N & S, 10 on the E & W. 5 cubits (7.5 ft.) apart

Each post was made out of acacia wood, a hard desert wood that does not rot and that insects will not destroy. Eash post has a base made of bronze, a silver capital or cap on top and silver hooks just under the capital.  Cords would be tied to these hooks and the post held in place by stakes on the inside and the outside of the wall.  Along the tops of each post was a connecting rod made of silver which spaced the pillars and upon which the fabric that made up the wall was hung. 40 curtains total make up the wall. 

The Gate:

Exodus 27:16 And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.

However, on the east side of the tabernacle was the gate, it was 20 cubits wide. All of its posts were made out of solid bronze. The fabric of the gate was also different than that of the rest of the wall. It was three different colored fabrics, embroidered together to make one cloth.  The colors of the gate were blue, purple, scarlet.  The gate was the only entrance into the courtyard, and it always faced east, the direction of the rising sun.

The Brazen Altar –

Exodus 27:1-8 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. 2 And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass. 3 And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass. 4 And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof. 5 And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar. 6 And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass. 7 And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it. 8 Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.

As you approach the tabernacle armed guards stand with orders to kill anyone who tries to enter anywhere but the gate and any who do not have the proper sacrifice. They must come with a lamb, a dove or an ox in order to enter the court.

Standing at the entrance of the gate, imposing itself in the courtyard would be the Brazen Altar.  The altar measured 5 x 5 x 3 cubits (7.5 ft. around by 4.5 ft high.)  It was constructed out of acacia wood overlaid with bronze.  It was a hollow box, with a solid bronze grate halfway up on the inside. 

Upon this altar your sacrifices would be offered to God.  This sacrifice must be without spot or blemish, a lamb, ox, or turtledove to be offered to God as an acknowledgment of sin or thanksgiving.

The offeror would bring his offering through the gate and then in the presence of the priest would lay his hands upon the animals head, signifying it as his offering for sin. Then the priest would take a knife and slit the throat of the innocent animal. The blood that would flow from the wound would be collected and put upon the horns of the altar. 

The animal then would be cut into pieces and the pieces arranged upon the altar to be burnt.

The Laver

Exodus 30:17-18 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein

This was a large bronze basin filled with water.  There are no dimensions given for the laver, though it would be quite large and probably near a scale to the altar.  The laver was used by the priests who would wash themselves before  and as they served God inside the tabernacle.

Entering Our Spiritual Outer Court

The outer court of the Tabernacle can be applied to the first stage of our relationship with God, which is salvation.

Just as in the tabernacle there is a wall that separates us from God. That Spiritual Wall, the Bible tells us, is our sin.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

The Spiritual Gate:

In the OT there was only one way to enter the outer courtyard and that was through the gate. To try and enter any other way was sure death.

For us today there is only one way to enter into a relationship with God. John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” 

The Spiritual Altar:

At the Brazen Altar the Hebrews would offer a perfect lamb to offer for their sins. Jesus is God’s perfect, sinless lamb God offered in sacrifice for our sins.

 John 1:29 “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

The Spiritual Laver:

There was cleansing at the Bronze Laver and in Jesus Christ we can be cleansed from our sin and iniquity.

1 John 1:7  … the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

For God dwell with us, to make his abode with as as the Gospels say, we must enter through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. We must accept the lamb of God as our sacrifice for sin and we must have our sin cleansed by His shed blood.

And that is why we sing. - 

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Refrain - Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

The song, and the salvation it sings of, is a paradox. Salvation by grace through faith based solely upon what Jesus has done and not what we can do makes no sense to the world, but by God’s design and plan, it is the only way of salvation. Just as God had only one way to build His dwelling place in the Wilderness, there is only one way to salvation and God dwelling in us.

We have entered the Outer Court through Jesus Christ now let us go into the Holy Place.

Going Into The Holy Place - Sanctification

Entering The Holy Place

There are three articles of furniture in the Holy Place and only the priests of God were allowed to enter into the Holy Place.

These pieces of furniture and almost everything in the Tabernacle are representations of the coming Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Every object, the material they are built of, even the people who served there all show us Jesus as our God, King, and Priest.

We can spend a year just drawing out those pictures and symbols but for the sake of time let’s look at the major aspects of the Holy Place.

The Table of Shewbread

Exodus 25:25-30 25 And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. 26 And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. 27 Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. 28 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. 29 And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. 30 And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.

The table of shewbread was gold covered and measured 3 feet long by 1 1/2 feet wide by 2' 3" high. Along the edge of the tabletop were two rims, the top one designed as a crown.  Upon the table would be placed in two rows 12 loaves of bread.  The bread represented the 12 tribes of Israel and they were to be place in the presence of God from one Sabbath until the next.  At the time the old bread was removed and the fresh loaves placed on the table.  Upon each row of bread frankincense was to be placed probably in one of the golden vessels which were used in the carrying and handling of the bread and incense.  The frankincense was burnt upon the altar of incense when the bread was changed. The twelve loaves representing the tribes of Israel were to be in the presence of God at all times within the Holy Room. 

The Golden Lampstand

Exodus 25:31-34 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. 32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: 33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. 34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.

If we looked directly across the room from the table of shewbread to the south side of the Holy Room we would see the golden lampstand.  The lampstand stood 2 ft 6 in high, 3ft 6 in wide and weighed 94 pounds.  It was beaten into the shape of almond branches from a single piece of solid gold. There was a central stem with 6 branches growing out from the center.  At the end of each branch there was a gold cup in the shape of an almond.  This cup held the oil which was made from freshly pressed olives. The oil was to be supplied directly from the people and was to be fresh and from the first pressing of the olive.

The lampstand illuminated the Holy Place. To the nation of Israel it was a reminder that God would lead them and guide them through the darkness of the wilderness.

The Altar of Incense

Exodus 30:1-8 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. 2 A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same. 3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. 4 And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. 5 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 6 And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. 7 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. 8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.

This altar was 1 1/2 feet square and 3 feet high.  It had a rim all around the top edge and at each corner there was a horn. The altar was placed directly in front of the veil which separated the Holy Room from the Most Holy Room or the Holiest of Holies.  The fire for the altar of incense had to come from coals taken off the Brazen Altar in the courtyard.  The incense which was burned here was restricted to only here.  Nowhere else in all the camp of Israel could it be burned. The Bible says the odor of the incense filled the tabernacle area and was "well pleasing to God." 

On the High Day of Atonement, Yom Kippor, blood from the sacrifice was placed upon the horns of the altar of incense by the priest on His way into the Most Holy Place.

Entering Our Spiritual Holy Place: Sanctification

In the Tabernacle only the priest could enter into the Holy Place, but after salvation the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar (unique) people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We are called as royal priests into our spiritual Holy Place and we serve in the illumination of His marvellous light. We can see that in the three articles of furniture can be applied to our sanctification, our growth in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the Table of Showbread or Presence Bread represents the promise of Jesus Christ to be with us always.

John 14:16-18 I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The Lampstand: The Promise of His Word

Just as the oil provided light to the tabernacle so also knowing Jesus more and more through scripture gives light in Him for the dark place my life. By knowing more of Him, we know who we are, what we are doing here and where we are going one day.

We can only know Him and have the light of His countenance through His Word.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Do you really want to grow in your relationship with God then look to the light found in the lamp of His Word.

In The Altar of Incense Is the Promise of Prayer

We grow and are progress in our sanctification through the power and promise of prayer. It is our time spent before the throne of God in prayer that we experience some of the most intimate time with Christ. In that intimate time, we find grow in Him.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

1 Thessalonians 5:17  Pray without ceasing.

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

How sad it would be for a Christian to only know the Outer Court, to only know salvation. As one of my Bible college professors once said, “Salvation is the most important thing in the world, until you are saved and then it is the least important.” – Raleigh Campbell.

Once you are saved your eternity is settled, but sanctification is what settles your life on earth by growing daily in Christ, through His presence, prayer and the promises of His Word. So grow in the Lord. As the last thing Peter wrote in his last epistle, in 2 Peter 3:18 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.

Well what else can the Tabernacle teach us of our relationship with God? In the Tabernacle there were three distinct areas, and so there is one area left to us. Let us enter the most Holy Place, the Holiest of Holies.

Going Into The Most Holy

Entering The Most Holy Place

The Veil of the Tabernacle

Exodus 26:31-33 And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: 32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. 33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.

Just beyond the Altar of Incense a veil hung in the tabernacle. The veil stretched from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. It contained the same colors as the gate and the curtain that marked the entrance to the Holy Place. The color, scarlet which points to Jesus’ shed blood. Blue speaks of His coming from Heaven. Purple shows us His majesty, His right to be King.

Woven into the fabric of the veil would be intricate, cunning embroidery of cherubim.  Angels much like those which stood at the entrance of the Garden of Eden to prevent entrance back into the Garden.

The Room

The Most Holy Place measured 15' by 15' by 15'.  It was overlaid with the coverings we studied in lesson one and the pillars which made up its walls were fastened together with rings and rods to form a solid wall.  These pillars were covered with solid gold overlaying acacia wood. Entering into the Most Holy Place would be like walking into a room with walls of gold and a ceiling of angels. The tabernacle and later the temple were representations of heaven, and the throne room of God. The Most Holy Room represent the throne room of God in Heaven. Gold show His deity and the angels show His praise.

The Ark 

Exodus 25:10-22 10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. 12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. …. 16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. 17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, ...

The Ark of the Covenant stood in the center of the Most Holy Place. It was the most important article in all the tabernacle. It measured 2 1/2 cubits long, 1 1/2 cubits wide and deep.  It was a box constructed from acacia wood overlaid inside and outside with pure gold.  Along the top edge of the ark a crown would go around the box forming a raised rim.  A gold ring was fastened to each corner of the ark and a gold overlaid pole would be inserted there for carrying the ark.  On top of the ark the mercy seat was placed.  This would be the exact dimensions to form a lid upon the top of the ark.  It was constructed of solid and the two cherubim, one on each end, knelt on top of the mercy seat. They faced each other with their wings spreading up and over the mercy seat itself. Inside the ark, God instructed Moses to place three items, the ten commandments, Aaron's rod and a pot of manna.

The Censor 

Leviticus 16:12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:

In addition to the things that stayed inside the Most Holy Place, there was an article that entered into the room with the priest. This was a censor used to carry live coals from the Brazen Altar into the Most Holy Place. The high priest would pour finely ground incense upon the coals in the censer to was to obscure the presence of God with the smoke from the incense.  Aaron, on the Day of Atonement, would sprinkle the blood from the slain lamb upon the mercy seat.

Entering Our Spiritual Most Holy Place

If I can apply these things found in the Most Holy Place to my walk with God, then I will believe we will more fully know Him. A knowledge that is ever growing, every fulfilling, ever new each day but never can it be exhausted.

God’s Person - The Ark of the covenant is a symbol of who God is.

 In the Ark of the Covenant God told Moses to place the tablets of stone that contained the Ten Commandments of God toward His people.  They were a revelation of God's attributes and character.  Through the Ten Commandments they would know their God.

 If I am to ever walk closely with God, I must know Him deeply and intimately. Yes, part of that knowledge comes through the law, or the names of God, but it is only fully revealed in the grace and love that can only be found in God the Son. To know God I must know Jesus, deeply, daily and devotedly.

 This was Paul's desire expressed in Philippians 3:8-10 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

God's Providence

 God's providence was symbolized in the ark by the pot of manna given to the Hebrews. But His greatest act of providence was the grace given through Jesus Christ. Jesus himself tells us that the manna was a symbol of Himself. He was the true bread of life.

John 6:32-33 … my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

 When we know and trust in God’s complete provision, we can some to the full assurance Paul had in Philippians 4:11-13 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 -- I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 

God's Priest.

 Aaron's rod was also kept inside the Ark. This rod was a proof that Aaron and his sons were the family through which God would establish His priests. The rod was an undeniable token of God's will for Aaron to be the mediator of the tabernacle sacrifices.

In the full assurance of a Most Holy Room Christian there is the sure knowledge that we cannot ever be lost as a child of God, because our High Priest ever lives to intercede for us. Jesus is our High Priest, he is our mediator of the New Covenant who made us epistles written in the heart.

Hebrews 7:24-25 But this man (Jesus Christ), because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

 This understanding is vital for it brings us to a total confidence in our salvation through Him. I am His because He will his love is ever interceding, His grace is ever sufficient, and His word is ever true.

God's Pardon.

 You cannot come into the Most Holy Place remembering what took place there once a year on the Day of Atonement. On that day, the High Priest would enter with the censor and the blood and as the smoke of the incense filled the room he would sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat that sat atop the ark of the Covenant.

This is the vivid picture of Jesus pouring out His own life's blood upon the cross before God, that we might receive His righteousness and be reconciled to God.  A forgiveness which by its very nature is so powerful and so complete that it can never be repeated. 

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

 A Most Holy Place Christian knows that grace, forgiveness and mercy did not end at the cross. They know that forgiveness is a daily, moment by moment event of turning from sin and self and to the one who shed His blood for us. The Christian, at this level of relationship with God, yearns to dwell with "clean hands and a pure conscience" in the presence of God's holiness, therefore he humbly and constantly seeks forgiveness. 

God's Presence

 The most outstanding characteristic of the Most Holy Place was the presence of God which dwelt above the mercy seat and between the cherubim.  It was God's presence in the room that made it the Most Holy Place. By Him it was a place of reverence, a place of power and a place of wonder in the majesty of the most high God.

 Most Holy Place Christians come to a place in their lives where they truly grasp the reality of the presence of God in their lives.  This is not a mystical experience, a second blessing or ecstatic vision, instead it is the clear and powerful reality of God's presence in our hearts, lives and the circumstance of our lives.

Isaiah, who saw the glory of God in the temple said this in Isaiah 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4 Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: 

 Jesus who was God in the flesh made this promise to the disciple and to us. John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

I think David reflects this kind of understanding of God in his life in Psalms 139

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down,and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Conclusion: Where are you dwelling with God this morning?

Do you stand in the outer court?

Praise the Lord you are saved and cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus! You will never lose that wonderful gift of grace. But there is so much more to living with God.

Set your steps toward the Holy Place, open that veil and find Jesus as your light, your constant friend and find the power of prayer.

And finally have as your goal on this earth to dwell in the Most Holy Place. Know God intimately, know His provision, know His assurance, know His unfailing forgiveness daily, and know His presence and peace in all aspects of your life. Don’t wait for Heaven to fully know God. He has revealed Himself to us today and we should long to experience Him more and more everyday that we live.

Finally, let me ask if there are any here who stand outside the walls of the tabernacle? Any who have not gone in by the gate, any who have not made Christ their sacrifice for sin? I pray that you see you are separated from God by sin. There is a wall, a gulf that you cannot cross. But you can enter in through Jesus. Take the first step and you will find the gate of God’s grace open wide.

“There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death and on for ever.”  - J.I. Packer

Friday, July 21, 2023

John Bible Study Chapter 19: The examination and punishment of Christ.

Final Examination of Jesus and His Suffering - John 18:39-19:16

Pilate failed in his first attempt to release Jesus when the Jews chose Barabbas. He had reason to be worried. Jesus did not fit the pattern of most rebels or false Messiah, not in word, deed or demeanor. Jesus’ reputation as a miracle worker was also well known and then Pilate’s wife comes to say, she had been warned in a dream that Jesus was a just man.

Matthew 27:19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

Vs. 19: 1-3 Pilate Orders Jesus Punished

Pilate then tries, by punishing and humiliating Jesus, to appease the Jews and thus find a way to release Him.

Scourging - Scourging was a very severe form of punishment, just short of the sure death of the crucifixion.  It was usually done with a flagellum, a multiheaded whip constructed with bits of lead and bone braided into the whips. Under Jewish law, the number of lashes was 39. 40 lashes was considered a death penalty.

Horace calls it horribile flagellum. It consisted of a handle, to which several cords or leather thongs were affixed, which were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal, to make the blow more painful and effective. ... The victim was tied to a post (and the blows were applied to the back and loins, sometimes even … to the face and the bowels. So hideous was the punishment that the victim usually fainted and not rarely died under it. -  Henry E. Dosker, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, 1915, 1–5, 2704.

“they (the Roman spectators) saw them (the Christians) lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view; - Eusebius of Caesaria, writing about the death of Polycarp from Smyrna and members of his church in 155 AD.

The Crown of Thorns – Some believe the crown was made from the thorns of the Date Palm, thorns that are 2-3 inches long and very sharp, able to pierce skin and flesh. Palm fronds had been used to welcome their Messiah, and the Date Palm was a symbol of Jewish independence, thus the crown would mock both Jesus as King and the nation’s hope in their humiliated Messiah.  

The Purple Robe -  Purple was the color of royalty and the soldiers under Pilates command, placed the robe on Jesus so that when Pilate proclaimed, “Behold, your King!” it would be the most cruel mockery.

He was innocent, yet He was treated as though He were guilty; and He did it for us. He was slapped in the face before Annas (John 18:22), and spat on and beaten before Caiaphas and the council (Matt. 26:67). Pilate scourged Him and the soldiers smote Him (John 19:1–3); and before they led Him to Calvary, the soldiers mocked Him and beat Him with a rod (Mark 15:19). How much He suffered for us! -  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 1:379.

Vss 4-5 Pilate now goes out the third time and brings Jesus, beaten, bloody, crowned and robed before the people. What is his declaration of Jesus before the Jews?
Behold The Man! Pilate was showing this was no king, no messiah, no threat.

Vs. 6-8 The Jews are not satisfied with the torture of Christ and call for His crucifixion. Pilate tells them to take Jesus and crucify Him for they would be guilty of killing an innocent man, but the Jews declare Jesus is not innocent.  What crime do they say Jesus committed that was worthy of death?
Jesus had proclaimed himself the Son of God, and under their law that was a blasphemy worthy of death.

Vs. 10-11 The Bible says that Pilate after hearing this was even more afraid. What did Pilate then ask Jesus after hearing the accusation?
He asks Jesus directly, “Whence Art Thou?”

Jesus did not immediately answer Pilate and he warned Jesus that he as prefect (governor) had the power of life or death over Jesus. In a sense, what was Jesus’ answer to both questions?
Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. (You have no authority over me, except what heaven has granted.)

Vs. 12-13 Pilate in his fear, and confronted by the Lord’s calmness and courage, tries even more to release Jesus. What finally forced Pilate to condemn Jesus?
The Jews claimed that Jesus had tried to make himself a king. They were threatening Pilate with ignoring rebellion against Caesar. (at this time Tiberius)

What was the response of the Jews when Pilate offered them Jesus as their King?
“We have no king but Caesar.”

How does the Jews response typify their relationship with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry?
They refused Him as their Messiah and King from the very beginning choosing power though politics over truth and the Word of God.

According to the early church historian Eusebius a tradition states that Pilate was ordered back to Rome for his own trial after attacking the Samaritans on the holy mountain, Mt. Gerizim in 36 AD. Afterward he was ordered by the emperor Caligula to kill himself. We do know that he was removed from office and there is no record of him afterward. (barely 5-6 years after he sent Jesus to the cross to prevent being accused of ignoring rebellion he is removed from office by death or in shame.)

The Pilate stone was discovered in 1961 which confirms the person and time of the prefect Pontius Pilate. Before the stone was discovered Pilate was dismissed as fictitious by many atheist and skeptics. 

The stone reads [This] Tiberieum (building dedicated to Tiberius)  by Pontius Pilatus prefect of Judea Had been built)


What does Jesus habit of praying in solitude often challenge us to do in our own times of turmoil and hurt?
Like Jacob on Penuel, Moses on Sinai, or Christ in the wilderness, we all need a secluded place to really do business with God.

Can we be guilty of denying Christ? How?
Yes, through our words, actions or lack thereof we can and do deny Him. Usually under much less pressure than Peter.
Using Peter’s story as a foundation, what can I learn to prevent my own denial of Christ?
Stay close to Christ especially in midst of trial.  Peter waited outside while John went in.
Don’t accept anything from the world.  Peter warmed himself by the fire and when it came time to take a stand he could not.

Pilate dismisses Jesus talk truth with the question, “What is truth?” What do you think he meant by that question?
   That truth is changeable, unknowable or subjective.

How does is compare to today’s philosophy of relativism? (Everything is relative.  What is true to you may not be true to me.)
Some basic idea though Pilate may have been dealing with truth between the Jews, himself and Jesus. Today it is not just powerful rulers who manipulate the truth but anyone who doesn’t like what they hear.

Herod tried to not pass judgment on Jesus. Is it possible for us to decide not to decide?
No, a non-decision is still a decision and we will still be held responsible by God if by no one else.

Chronology of the Trial

1. Judas' Betrayal and Peter's Denial Foretold (Jerusalem in the evening before the crucifixion)  Mt 26:21-25,31-35 Mr 14:18-21,27-31 Lu 22:21-23,31-38 Joh 13:21-38

2. The Lord's Supper Instituted (Jerusalem in the evening before the crucifixion)
Mt 26:26-29 Mark 14:22-25 Lu 22:19,20 1Co 11:23-26

3. Farewell Discourse to Disciples (Jerusalem in the evening before the crucifixion)
Joh 14:1-16:33

4. The Lord's Prayer (Jerusalem, Somewhere on the way to Garden of Gethsemane late at night)  John 17:1-26

5. Gethsemane and Agony Therein (A garden between the brook Kidron and the Mount of Olives. Late at night.)  Mt 26:30,36-46 Mr 14:26,32-42 Lu 22:39-46 Joh 18:1

6. Jesus Betrayed, Arrested, and Forsaken (Gethsemane, several hours before dawn) Mt 26:47-56 Mr 14:43-52 Lu 22:47-53 Joh 18:2-11

7. First Stage of Jewish Trial. Examination by Annas (Annas home, before dawn)
Joh 18:12-14,19-23

8. Second Stage of Jewish Trial. Jesus Condemned by Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin (Palace of Caiaphas, early before dawn.) Mt 26:57,59-68 Mr 14:53,55-65 Lu 22:54,63-65 Joh 18:24

9. Peter Thrice Denies the Lord (Court of the high priest's residence, about dawn) Mt 26:58,69-75 Mr 14:54,66-72 Lu 22:54-62  Joh 18:15-18,25-27

10. Third Stage of Jewish Trial. Jesus Formally Condemned by the Sanhedrin (Jerusalem after dawn)  Mt 27:1,2 Mr 15:1 Lu 22:66-23:1 Joh 18:28

11. First Stage of the Roman Trial. Jesus Before Pilate for the First Time (Jerusalem. Early morning) Mt 27:11-14 Mr 15:2-5 Lu 23:2-5 Joh 18:28-38

12. Second Stage of the Roman Trial. Jesus Before Herod Antipas (Jerusalem. In the morning after sunrise) Lu 23:6-12

13. Third Stage of the Roman Trial. Pilate Reluctantly Sentences Him to Crucifixion (after sunrise, early morning before 9 am.)  Mt 27:15-30 Mr 15:6-19 Lu 23:13-25 Joh 18:39-19:16 


Jesus greatest agony still waits for him upon the cross, but it did not start there. He has been awake for at least 24 hours, emotionally tormented on the way and in the Garden. He was arrested, beaten, illegally tried, ridiculed, humiliated and scourged in those 24 hours. All of these, we are witness to through the Bible, but none can know all that He suffers in His heart and in his mind knowing what still lies ahead.

When we consider all He has suffered and what He will suffer, we should dedicate ourselves once again to serve Him fully in gratitude and humility for all He has done for us.


Monday, July 17, 2023

Exodus: Going with God #13: Going With God’s Law Exodus 19-20


Exodus: Going with God #13: Going With God’s Law

Text: Exodus 19:16-20, 20:1-21

Returning from Sunday School one day, where the Ten Commandments had been the topic, our young son asked his father, "Daddy, what does it mean when it says, 'Thou shalt not commit agriculture'?"

   There was hardly a beat between the question and my husband's smooth reply: "Son, that just means that you're not supposed to plow the other man's field," and that answer satisfied everybody. - Reader's Digest, July 1979, p. 87.

Are the 10 Commandments still important today?

A poll done in March of 2018 compared the viewpoints of people in the United States and people in Britain about the 10 Commandments. I was surprised at some of the result found. Honestly, I thought the results would be worse here at home than the poll showed. According to the poll a majority in both countries still believe that murder, theft, lying, adultery, coveting are still wrong, while honoring your parents is still right. The other commandants did not fare as well. Thou shalt not worship idols was rejected in the UK, though 60 still believe it is important in the US. God as the only God was upheld by 59 percent of Americans but 68% of the UK rejected such a commandment. When it comes to honoring the Lord’s day only 49% of Americans think it was important while 73% of British responders believe it is not important to be in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s day.

That is what they think of the 10 Commandments, but the real question is what do you think of God’s Ten Commandments? What do we think of the Law of God? How do we understand it in our culture, our family, our churches and our own lives? What was God’s purpose in giving the law to the Hebrews and does it have a purpose in our lives today as New Testament believers.

God’s Words - Exodus 19:16-20  

 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

The Law and Israel

The great Scotts preacher, Alexander McClaren made a statement about the uniqueness of the Law, He says “An obscure tribe of Egyptian slaves plunges into the desert to hide from pursuit, and emerges, after forty years, with a code gathered into ‘ten words,’ so brief, so complete, so intertwining morality and religion, so free from local or national peculiarities, so close fitting to fundamental duties, that it is to-day, after more than three thousand years, authoritative in the most enlightened peoples. The voice that spoke from Sinai reverberates in all lands. … Whose voice was it? The only answer explaining the supreme purity of the commandments, and their immortal freshness, is found in the first sentence of this paragraph, ‘God spake all these words.”

If those people who took part in the poll had been at Mt. Sinai that day, they would have known without a doubt that the 10 commandments were and always will be essential to us and our world.

In fact, few events in the history of the Bible have the drama and the spectacle of the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai that day.

Upward of 2 million people were in the valley below Mt. Sinai the mountain of God and they beheld what must have seemed like the eruption of a volcano. And they stood at the base of the mountain that was exploding just above their heads.

Exodus 19:1-2 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.

It has been 3 months since the nation of Israel left Egypt and marched into the wilderness. It has been 2 months since the miracle of the water from the rock and the battle with Amalek we looked at last week. Four months to bring them to this place and time to behold the power and majesty of Jehovah God.

 God tells Moses His purpose in bring the people to Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19:9 Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.

This is the same mountain where Moses first saw the burning bush but now instead of a single bush burning it is an entire mountain summit erupting in fire, smoke, dark clouds and blinding lightning.

God wanted to reveal himself to His people in a powerful, overwhelming way. He wanted them to see that Moses was the leader He had chosen and that the Law, given to Moses, was also a revelation of Himself. As the burning mountain of God showed His power, the perfect Law of God showed His righteousness.

You can see that the law was important to God and to the Hebrew people, but should it still be important to us today. And if it has not lost its importance then how do we reconcile the unbending justice of the law with the mercy of God’s grace. It is utterly vital to us as God’s New Testament people that we know the purpose of God’s Law then and now.

The Law and the Christian

Let me give you some of the purposes of the Law of God. First, it was given as a guideline for morality. For right and wrong

The law which is summarized in the 10 commandments, was meant to be the rules by which the nation of Israel governed itself, but it goes beyond them and acts as a guideline for all morality, society and civilizations. It does not and cannot save a single soul, but it can save an entire nation.

Second, it was giving to reveal the Holiness of God.

 Through the law we see a holy, righteous and just God. The law provides us with a means of understanding the righteous character of our Creator and Judge.

As Warren Wiersbe writes, “The Law reveals God’s righteousness and demands righteousness, but it can’t give righteousness,”

Thirdly, it is a mirror of our sin. The law shows us that we can’t come to God in our righteousness. He is perfect in His holiness, and we are far from perfect in ours.

This is seen dramatically when God warns Moses in Chapter 19 about the people coming too close to Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 19:12-13 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:  There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live:

This is what the Law does, it allows us to come close enough to see His holiness but it cannot open a way for us to come near Him.

J Vernon McGee, the great radio Bible teacher, said this, “The Law reveals and shows there must be a shedding of blood for sin. Just as you have in your bathroom a mirror that represents the law with a basin underneath it. You don’t wash in the mirror. The mirror reveals what you wash in the basin. – J. Vernon McGee

Let’s take a quick look at what the New Testament says to us today about the law and its purpose.

Romans 3:19-20 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Galatians 3:21-25 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Summary: The purpose of the Law

First, it condemns sinners of their sin, before a holy God.

Secondly, it brings us to Christ through the acknowledgement of that sin.

Thirdly, yes, it is still a guideline for ethics and morality in our society.

But finally understand that the Law is not the code you as a Christian, live by after salvation.

You do not live by the law for it was meant to show you your death not your life. You live by the grace of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit. He, dwelling in you, provides you with another code, one from heaven not from Mt. Sinai. That code is now the rule of your life by as a Child of God.

 Paul shows us this heavenly code in, Galatians 5:18-26 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  …

You don’t keep the Law because as a child of God you have superseded the law through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus fulfilled the law for us and then gave us the Holy Spirit to take us above and beyond the requirements of the Law.

 Listen to Paul in Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 What the law could not do because it was weak because of my sinful physical body and soul. What the law could not do God sent his son to earth to become a man, but a perfect man, who never sinned and He defeated and judged sin. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, the people who now walk in the power and under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Amen, Hallelujah and Praise His name!

Free From The Law, Oh Happy Condition

1 Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.

2 Now we are free, there's no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation;
"Come unto Me," O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.

We saw the stage that God had set for the giving of the law now let us look at the centerpiece of that event, the Law itself.

God’s Purpose - Exodus 20:3-17

 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.  Thou shalt not kill.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

God And The Law

The Ten Commandments literally translated is, the Ten Words. Ten declarations from the mouth of God himself.

We think of Moses going up one time to get the stone tablets written by the hand of God and then afterward he breaks them when he sees the people sinning in the camp, doing the very things the commandments forbid. We know that he returns and this time Moses write the Law on a second set of tablets. But if you carefully count, you’ll find that Moses climbed up to the peak or near the peak between 7 and 8 times.

This time, the first time the commandments are given is directly to the people before the tablets of stone were cut. They heard the voice of God in their own ears but when Moses was too long in returning, they turn back to their old gods of gold instead of the living God on the mountain.

Moses does receive the Law from God and we can see that the law is in two division or two categories.

The first category consists of the first 4 commandments, and they deal with God’s relationship to man. The second consists of the last 6 commandments, and they deal with man’s relationship to man.

The First Table: God’s Revelation To With Man

1st vs. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2nd vs. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

3rd vs. 7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

4th vs. 8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

"The first commandment then guards the unity of God, the second His spirituality, and the third His deity or essence. -James Murphy, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

These first commandments reveal to us the true and only God. These are given so that we might look up in awe to God rather than think we can bring Him down to our level or lower.

This is what ancient man did and it is still what modern man wishes to do. Paul put it this way in Romans 1:21-25  …when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…

When once God is brought down to our level then what is left for man but to go lower than the god he has imagined. For any god, even a false god, must be higher than the one worshipping their god.

But God has shown us, through his commandments and through His word of revelation that He cannot be brought down.

Listen to Isaiah, Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

In Revelation 4:2-6 behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.  6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind… and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
As it was on Mt. Sinai, in the Temple and in the throne room of Heaven, God is shown in His glory as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He is righteous and holy. He is the One who inhabits eternity. He is the Holy One who rides on the clouds of judgment. He is revealed as He truly is, God above all others and beside Him there is no other!

That is what the first table of the 10 words tell us.

The Second Table of the 10 is God’s Expectation Of Man

5th vs. 12 Honour thy father and thy mother. Honor in obedience and in love.

6th vs. 13 Thou shalt not kill. The word used here in Hebrew is rasah and it means murder, not just kill, for there are justified reasons for killing, but this is about the taking of an innocent life not the life of someone trying to kill you, hurt your family or by force, destroy your nation.

7th vs. 14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. This prohibition speaks against any form of sexual sin. Adultery, fornication, pornography is one of the worst kinds of theft for it take something that belongs between only to a marriage and steal that precious thing away and turns it into a selfish, hurtful sin.

8th vs. 15 Thou shalt not steal. Do I need to explain this one? I sure hope that even in this day and age we understand what thou shalt not steal means. If I was in California, Portland or Seattle I would have to explain this but not in Athens, Texas. Thank you Lord for my town.

9th vs. 16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. It includes any lying that harms or defrauds. It especially deals with false testimony and gossip.

10th  vs. 17 Thou shalt not covet. The root of where sin begins. The selfish desire for something you do not have.

The first tablet of the law shows us God and the second tablet shows us ourselves. The first tablet shows us God’s holiness, the second shows our sinfulness. The first shows us God in His glory, the second show us in our fallen state.

 You and the Law

If you are lost, away from God, unsaved, under the judgment of God’s holiness, then you look into the mirror of the law, see your sin and go to that fountain filled with the blood of Jesus Christ to find cleansing, as the hymn says, What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

If you are saved, then you better know the law didn’t save you nor can it now keep you saved. Nor can you keep the law in your own power even after salvation. Jesus was the only one who could and did fulfill the law and our relationship should be with Him and not with the Law.

Paul, writing to the churches in Galatia, explained how spiritually dangerous it was to try and keep the law after salvation. Look in Galatians 5:1-6 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised (in order to keep the law), Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (fallen from the way of grace) 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

(only faith counts. The faith that God loves us and sent His Son to die for us.)

Back at Mt. Sinai, the people were cowering before the power and fury of God. This was the original shock and awe. Their reaction was to get away. How could they deal with a God who was so high above them? Exodus 20 vs 18 shows us, and it is the same need we still have today, they and we need an intercessor.


 God’s Mediator- Exodus 20:18-21

 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.  And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.  And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

Moses Goes Between

Even far away from the Mountain of God, the Hebrews cannot bear the power, fury and awe of the presence of the Holy God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They cry out Moses, You speak with us and we will hear you, but do not let God speak with us, or we will be killed.  

The people directly hear the voice of the One who spoke the universe into existence from nothing. They see the power of his presence in the fire, smoke and lightning upon the mountain, and yes it terrorizes them.

They can understand first hand what Paul describes in Hebrews 10:30-31 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The Ten Words of God are spoken aloud but the people can’t bear the words because of their fear. They are rightly afraid of the voice of the holy and righteous God. And they and we also should be afraid.

On their own they cannot face God. They plead with Moses to go for them. He will go up, into the dark clouds, the fire, and the smoke. Moses will go into God’s presence and bring back the Law of God.

Without Moses the people have no one to act on their behalf. No one who can intercede with God. No one who can speak directly to God. Only Moses, God’s chosen servant, can act as a go-between. In Moses they have hope.

Jesus Our Intercessor

Like the people at Mt Sinai, we stand today before a holy and righteous God. No, we can’t experience Him as they did. To be honest with you I wouldn’t want to, any more than I would want to stand below a volcano as it erupts in fire or a tornado as it falls from above and destroys everything in it’s path. But I can experience the power, the fury, the holiness, the judgment of God here in this Book which contains not only the 10 words of the commandments, but all the words of God given to us throughout the ages.

In this Book, the Word of God, I find that just as there was a barrier to keep the people from the Mountain of God, there is also a barrier that prevents me from going to where God is, a barrier that the law shows me.

Isaiah 59:2 puts it this way, But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Like the angel’s sword that kept Adam and Eve from reentering the garden, like the gulf that Jesus described in the story of the beggar Lazarus there is a separation between us and God, the vast gulf of our sin.

Like the children of Israel we hear the Ten Commandments. We hear and know that we are guilty and that guilt means I cannot approach the Holy and righteous God. What hope then can we have? Where is our Moses, our mediator? Who is worthy enough to ascend to God? Who is loving enough to bring down grace and forgiveness instead of judgment and wrath?

There is One, who declared Himself mightier than Moses. One who came down to earth from the Father’s throne, One who lived with us and showed love, mercy and grace. That one is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Very God of Very God, God in the flesh.

John wrote in his Gospel, John 1:14 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John calls Jesus the Word because like the revelation of God on Mt Sinai that day, Jesus is the revealed God to us.

He also is our mediator. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:4-6  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

In Jesus we have hope. God knew that we could not keep the law. He knew that we could not come up to him, and so He come down to us through Jesus Christ. God’s own Son took on human flesh became a man and lived a life without sin. He fulfilled the law that we could not keep. He then laid that sinless life upon a cross to be crucified for us. He paid the price for our sin, our failure to live up the  standard of God’s holiness. Only He could do that. He died on Calvary that we might live.

The same prophet Isaiah who saw God high and lifted up in the Temple also saw the One who would make us able to be with God. Isaiah 53:3-6  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We must go to our mediator, Jesus. We must see our sin, so clearly made visible by the unmerciful law, our sin laid up the sinless shoulders of Jesus and there in our sorrow and shame, our fear and our failure, there find the mercy of God only the Son can bring to us.

 Illustration: One Great Day remains.

We said that the day God gave the law on Mt. Sinai was one of the greatest events of all time and history, but there is one day that will outshine even that day. A day when the glory of God will be seen not just in the valley below a mountain in the wilderness, but a day when God’s glory will be seen worldwide. The day when Jesus returns as the King to claim this world as His rightful kingdom. What a Day that will be.

Jesus prophesied it in Matthew 24:27-30 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. …. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

John who saw Jesus in His earthly glory, saw the Day of Jesus’s heavenly glory. Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 -- His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.


We weren’t there the day God’s glory and judgment came down upon Mt. Sinai,

 but if you are a child of God, a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you and I and all believers will be there on the Day Jesus, in all His glory comes down upon this world when He as King.

 I don’t mind that I missed the Law when it came down to Mt. Sinai, but I am so glad, I will not miss the Lord when he comes down to the Mount of Olives. I won’t miss that day because I will be with Him, riding somewhere in that army. I don’t care if they only give me a mule or a donkey to ride, I’ll be right there as King Jesus takes the throne of earth.

As we leave here this morning can you say you’ll also be there on that day? How eternally sad it will be if you miss that day because you missed the purpose of God’s law and the forgiveness of God’s grace.