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Archive for December, 2017

tent

As the remnant moved on from Mt. Sinai in the aftermath of their sin, God’s mercy finds them once again.  What an amazing God we serve!

Wherever they settled Moses would pitch a tent outside the camp and meet with God.  Moses called it the “Tent of Meeting.”  Not only Moses, but any one of the people could go out to this place and seek the Lord.  This is quite amazing because God had just told them how his presence among them, even for a moment, would rouse his anger and consume them because of their sin.  (Exodus 33:5) Yet God is full of mercy and bent on reconciliation if his people only humble themselves, repent, and seek him in prayer.

We, too, must be ready and willing to extend mercy and be bent on nothing less than reconciliation with one another after offense and injury.  This is truly how we live the gospel and glorify God among fellow sinners.  This is how we look like God; imago dei.

When Moses went to inquire of God and intercede for the people, the people would get up, stand at the doors of their tents and watch.  (Exodus 33:8) This demonstrated their willingness and interest in being made right with God after their sin.  They didn’t sleep in and let Moses worry about their standing with God.  No.  Anxiously and intently, they watched and waited for God to show up and their leader interceded on their behalf.

Likewise, we ought to learn to watch and wait on God with great respect and diligence at all times, but especially after we have fallen into sin.

Once Moses entered the Tent of Meeting, a cloud would descent and stay at the entrance of the tent.  When the cloud was present, God was speaking with Moses.  During this time, all the people would worship at their own tent doors.

When we see God moving in the life of our leaders, we, too, ought to stand, wait, and worship.

Amazingly, here, God spoke to this man, Moses, face to face.  Moses is the only person we know of that had this kind of experience with the Almighty.  Yet, today, God speaks to each and every one of his people through His Word and His Spirit if we only listen.

Moses was so concerned with listening to God that he left his apprentice at the Tent of Meeting to live just in case God spoke when he was away from the tent.

Lord, let me listen like that!  God is always speaking.  The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. ~Psalm 50:1  Lord, help me listen.

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choice

After the Levites kill their own brothers and friends  on behalf of God for the golden calf idolatry, God gives them some more consequences for their rebellion.  In Exodus 33, the Israelites are told to depart from the base of Mt. Sinai.  God restates his promise to bring them into the promised land, but there is one catch – he’s not coming.

God is like, time to leave here.  You still get the promised land, guys!  But I’m not coming with you.  God’s immediate presence would not be there with them.

How many churches today operate this way?  Yet many are perfectly content to do so.  So sad.

“When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.  For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the people of Israel, “You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you.  So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.” ~Exodus 33:4

Therefore, they were not content.  They did not rejoice.  They did not go on with business as usual.  They did not plan outreach.  What they did was mourn.

Half their company just died by the sword of their own brothers.  The text does not say they mourned then.  But for this, they mourn.  Why?

This was a bigger, more severe judgement and tragedy than losing half your friends and family in a day.  We know this because the latter just happened and these people didn’t mourn.  They did not mourn until God said he would remove his presence.  The is absolute worst thing God can do to human beings who love him is separate himself from them.  What was the lowest point of Christ on the cross?  The separation of he and his Father.

One day these guys were fixing to become a nation of priests, the next God tells them to dress in their skivvies and has his prophet tell them who they really are.  Not priests.  Nope.  Stiff-necked, stubborn, rebellious kids who don’t listen – that’s who they are.  That’s who we are when we fail to patiently wait on God, be faithful, and obey Him despite our circumstances.

God moves even their leader outside their camp.  The plans God was giving to build the tabernacle there at the base of Mt. Sinai were no more.  They had to move on, and this, without the immediate presence of God.  The bottom line was that because of these guys’ impatience and unbelief, they suffered greatly.  Their impatience led them into the sin of idolatry.  Their idolatry caused many of their brothers and friends to be killed in a civil war of sorts and these guys who are left are shamed with what they must wear.  They don’t get to serve God in the ways he originally had planned for them – at least at this point.  Not only that, but he moves their leader, Moses, outside the camp because he does not want to be close to them.  Even one moment keeping company with them would cause God to destroy their rebellious, ungrateful selves.

Here is a picture of every single one of us when God’s mercy finds us.  We are stubborn.  We are rebellious.  We are idolatrous.  We are impatient.  We are unfaithful and unbelieving.  We are ungrateful.  We are separated from God because of our sin.  We are in desperate need of mercy and forgiveness.  We need an intercessor and a clean slate.  These guys had Moses.  We have Christ.  Let us trust in Him when our sin separates us from God.

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accountability.jpg

Moses and God have been hanging out on top of Mt. Sinai for quite some time.  Now that God is finished giving Moses instructions, he has just informed him of the corruption going on among his people at the bottom of the mountain.  His brother, Aaron, has just fashioned an idol and all the people are worshiping it.  God wanted to destroy them all and raise Moses up, but Moses interceded for them and God relented.  That brings us to Exodus 32:15-35.

Now, Moses is finally headed back down the mountain to speak to the people with the God-written tablets of the law in hand.  Notice that before Moses ever speaks to the people about their sin, he speaks to God about it.  We must not think we can deal with our brothers and sisters appropriately if we do not first talk to God about them first.

If you remember, Joshua was up on the mountain waiting for Moses all this time.  Here is our example.  Joshua had been waiting just as long as the people – and he was alone! – yet he had not sinned.  He also had not heard what God spoke to Moses, however.  He must have been camped some distance off from where Moses met with God and he did not know of the corruption and idolatry of the people as Moses did.  When Joshua heard the noise of the people he thought it was the sound of war.  Moses corrected him saying that it was not victory, it wasn’t defeat, but singing.  The reason there was no victory or defeat is because there was no war.  If we are following God, we must be always at war with sin.  These people were not.

They were singing.  Sitting, eating, drinking, playing, and singing.  Isn’t that just like us.  Singing and playing when we should be fighting, mourning, and repenting of our sin.  How many so-called Christians today go on entertaining themselves with all the world has to offer while sin sits on their doorstep soaking up their insobriety.

When Moses approached the camp and saw the sin of the people he got so mad that he threw the tablets and broke them.  He burned the golden calf idol down into power, threw it in the water, and made the people drink it.

This was like the saying, “You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it.”  You made the idol, now you have to eat it.  You bear the responsibility, kids.  Here comes judgement.

Notice that Moses’ angry display was a display of righteous anger – just like Jesus’ turning over the money changers’ tables.  Matthew Henry says, “It is no breach of the law of meekness to show our displeasure at the wickedness of the wicked.”   

In other words, it is not wrong to be mad at sin against God.  It is not wrong to make our displeasure known when men deliberately dishonor God and his law.  It is no sin to be angry over sin, especially when men in danger of hell for their continuing disobedience go about singing and playing as if all is well.

Moses’ first stop after crashing this sin party is his brother’s face.

“And Moses said to Aaron, ‘What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?’ “ ~Exodus 32:21

Who brought the sin upon the people?  Aaron.  But, wait.  Didn’t the people come to him complaining about God and Moses?

They did.  But Aaron is the leader.  Therefore, Aaron bears much more responsibility than the people do.  Aaron should have corrected them.  Aaron should have interceded and waited on God.  Instead, without batting an eye, Aaron said, “Bring me your gold,” and made the idol with his own two hands.

Now, when his brother comes to him face to face with accountability for it, Aaron blame-shifts and flat out lies about his own sin.  Listen to what he says to Moses:

“…So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” ~Exodus 32:24

I put the gold in the fire and a calf just popped right out.  Yeah, right, Aaron!  Liar.  No one believes you.

Isn’t it amazing what men will say and do to weasel out of accountability and responsibility when we are caught in sin?

Instead of arguing with Aaron, Moses does something else.  He stands in the gate of their camp and he asks who is on the Lord’s side.  Those who come to him he instructs to kill everyone else – including their brothers, friends, and neighbors.

You guys think you got what it takes?  You want to work for God?  Go kill your brothers.  Go kill your buddies.  Prove you’re fit for service in my kingdom.  And by the way, I will bless you for it.

“And Moses said, ‘Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.’ “ ~Exodus 32:29

Little wonder why Jesus said that anyone who loves his mother and father and brother and sister more than him is not worthy of him.  When our favorite people in the world sin, they do not get a pass.  We cannot overlook what angers God for the sake of keeping peace with our friends and family.  Christ did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  If we are not willing to confront those we love most when sin is present, we are not fit for service in God’s kingdom.  And, as difficult and painful as being the dreaded confront-er is, God promises to bless us when we are faithful to live out his Word.

As we see in this passage, the men who stood up on God’s side are the ones who had to carry out God’s judgement on their unrepentant brothers.  How much suffering do you think was involved in that duty?  Surely it was a great amount.  Clearly, this was a punishment for these better men as well, for not putting a stop to the sin much sooner.

For everyone who was left afterward, Moses says this, “You have sinned a great sin,  And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” ~Exodus 32:30

He goes back to God to intercede for the people again.  He tells God what God originally told him – that the people had made gods out of gold.  It wasn’t that God didn’t know this already.  He’s the one who told Moses first.  Moses tells him in a manner of confession.  Sins must be specifically identified and rightly confessed to God for forgiveness to be possible.  He asks God to forgive them or else blot him out of the book of life.

What a leader.  Here is an innocent man willing to be punished and even blotted out of God’s favor altogether for the sake of those who actually deserve that kind of punishment.  Remind you of anyone?  Moses was a type of Christ.

But God says no.  He says he will blot out those who have sinned against him.  God promises to send his angel before Moses and lead him to the promised land.  He sends a plague on the people for their idolatry and disobedience and Moses moves on with far less people than he started with.

Sin weakens and destroys the people of God.  No matter what the cost to confront it, never let sin reside in the camp of God’s people.  Despite the great personal pain and difficulty confronting your brothers, buddies, and neighbors brings, make no mistake, you will be blessed if you are faithful to God’s Word by confronting sin in the midst of blatant disobedience.  Amen.

 

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yoda

Do you ever go somewhere and think, “This sure feels like a waste of time…” On the way you may be thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t even go…I don’t think I’ll enjoy this…but everyone else is going…I don’t want to miss out….but usually when I go to this place I am miserably bored, wishing I was home, and wondering what on earth could possibly be wrong with everyone around me because they are over the top excited to be here…”

Ok.  Do you have your place?  Mine is the movies.  Once in a great while I will actually enjoy a movie, but nine out of ten cause me to kick myself for not staying home and reading a more entertaining and exciting story.

Last night was one of those nights.  We went to see the new Star Wars movie and all I could think the entire time was how the Bible – the living, active, real in your life today story – is infinitely more exciting to experience than this movie – or any other entertainment the world has to offer for that matter.

But the theater was completely full.  I mean filled to the brim.  I had my normal I-wish-I-would-have-stayed-home-guess-I’ll-take-a-nap-in-this-uncomfortable-overused-chair experience while everyone else held lightsabers and wore fangirl t-shirts with edge of their seat excitement.  There was only one problem for me.  Every few minutes the sound of clapping, cheering, sobering sighs, and otherwise giddy excitement coming from row beside us would wake me after I’d dozed off.

These people must have been the only kind of Star Wars fans there are – fanatics.

A funny thing happened to me during my transient nap at the movie theater, though.  I felt, as I often do in this context, a certain sadness come over me – not because I felt like I was wasting time and money simply by being present – but, this time, because I realized that they were.

I had to ask myself when the last time I’d seen any young people – no – any people of any age at all – get that excited about the Word of God.  When was the last time I’d seen any passion in anyone – other than my husband when he preaches  – about what God was showing them in his Word – anyone cheering, clapping, sighing, and sobering over what they were seeing, hearing, and learning from the Scriptures?  I have been in church my entirelife.  That kind of genuine passion for the Lord is rare, and, for the most part, here in America, altogether obsolete.

At that moment my heart felt so sad for my generation and those younger because I know the absolute amazement the Word of God offers; the unmitigated adventure knowing and serving the Lord Jesus Christ in earnest really gives.  And I know that it is the very thing that many of these empty entertainment junkies of today are so desperately desiring.  Humans want adventure and excitement.  But in our day, they think it comes from watching fantasy movies like the Avengers and the Jedi rather than living a real life that follows the Living God.

Friends, real adventure and excitement come from following Christ!  Every single page of the Bible is like a new journey.  It is not always rainbows and butterflies, but it is good and it is real.  My generation is missing out on the real life living experience of knowing the God of the Universe because they have never taken the time to read, study, and know His Word.

Not long ago I was considering past events and asking the Lord why I had to go through some hard things.  At that very moment my husband said, “You raised your hand.”  It was in response to something else in a different context.  He had no idea that I had just asked the Lord these things.  God used him to remind me how when I was young I had written about wanting to be used of God and using the analogy that I was raising my hand hoping with all my heart to simply be called on.

To that end I say, if you go to church or begin reading your Bible and think, ““This sure feels like a waste of time…” Or if on the way you are thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t even go…I don’t think I’ll enjoy this…but everyone else is going…I don’t want to miss out….but usually when I go to this place I am miserably bored, wishing I was home, and wondering what on earth could possibly be wrong with everyone around me because they are over the top excited to be here…,” you are not investing and engaging in true Christianity.  Get to know God.  Get to know His Word – front to back, inside and out.  Become a light-bearing, card-carrying, scripture t-shirt wearing fanatic about Jesus Christ and then you will be the only kind of Christian there is – a true one – and you’ll have no need to be endlessly entertained by false wars in the stars.  In fact, those things will become incredibly boring compared to the real cosmic star wars you are fighting in the Name of the Lord.  Amen!

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prayer

The people of God have just demanded new gods.  Aaron, their surrogate leader, has just fashioned an idol – a golden calf – out of the gold the true God had given to them from the oppressive enemies – the Egyptians – he had just delivered them from.  Moses is still up on the mountain getting instructions on how to serve and worship the living God as the leader of his chosen people.  Now, God informs Moses of their disobedience in his absence.  In Exodus 32:7-14, God and Moses have a conversation about what will become of these insubordinates.

God is angry.  He has just been sold out for the inanimate gifts he gave to his people.  He tells Moses about the conspiracy and idolatry.  He says he’s going to destroy the people, exalt Moses, and make a great nation out of Moses.

This is quite an offer.  Forget those infidels, Moses.  I’m going to give them what they deserve for their foolish, purposeful disobedience.  But you are my star.  I’m going to make you great.

Moses is not interested in his own glory.  Instead of accepting this self-serving (and, likely well-deserved) offer, Moses asks God why his is mad.  (Exodus 32:11)  Well, God had just told Moses exactly why he was angry – so angry, in fact, that he was willing to annihilate all of His own people save Moses.  Moses’ question was rhetorical.  He wasn’t literally asking the reason why God was mad.  The text tells us that he was “imploring” God.  He was desperately interceding on behalf of his people – people whom, at this point, God would not even own.  In Exodus 32:7, God refers to them as “your people” meaning Moses’ people, not his own.  In turn, in 32:11, Moses returns calling them “your people” meaning God’s.  Can’t you hear Moses’ desperate plea?  These ARE your people, God!  Save them!

Moses goes on.  He pleads with God to stop being angry; to save them.

Here is a lesson for us.  We cannot save people, but we can work to win souls.  However, we cannot work to win souls with whom we are actively angry.  It is a God-like attribute to be righteously angry when people sin.  But the only way to help sinners be saved from sure destruction – the rightful penalty for their/our sin – is to turn from our anger and to intercede on their behalf; to seek to save them from being lost.  This is what Moses does; it’s what he begs God to do.  He does it by denying the opportunity God gives him for his own glory and exaltation.  I believe this shows us that we cannot have it both ways.  We cannot desire self-promotion if our heart is truly set on bringing salvation to others.  We have to pick one or the other.  God exalts the humble in due time, but our agenda cannot have both self-promotion and others’ salvation written on it together.  They are mutually exclusive goals.  Pick one.

Moses uses God’s reputation as the catalyst for answering his prayers.  What will the Egyptians think, God? What will the world think, God?  When your people die because you have destroyed them?  That’s not who YOU are, God.

We ought to follow Moses’ example.  Because it’s not about those who are in need of mercy being deserving – none of us ever are.  It’s about the character, reputation, and integrity of the one giving mercy to the underserved.  We must turn from our own righteous anger over other men’s sins for the sake of our own good name.  We must intercede for them and implore God’s mercy on the unrighteous for the sake of his glory, not theirs.  And we, like Moses, must consider their salvation as of greater worth than our own advancement.  This is how a humble person leads.

Moses wasn’t looking out for number one.  Moses was always most concerned with God’s people and their welfare.  Matthew Henry says of him, “Had Moses been of a narrow, selfish spirit, he would have closed with this offer; but he prefers the salvation of Israel before the advancement of his own family.  Here was a man fit to be a governor.”

Because of Moses’ righteous actions in the face of others’ unrighteous actions, God had mercy on the unrighteous.  Let the same be said of us.

“And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” ~Exodus 32:14

 

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calf

Picture this: You were born a slave.  You had been told that a deliverer was coming.  Hundreds of years had gone by with no deliverance.  But, in your lifetime, he comes.  He does the signs and wonders of God and rescues you out of bondage and slavery.  He leads you, by the hand of your God’s leading, into the desert wilderness where further instructions are being given.  You’ve already been given many miraculous signs, bread from heaven, water from a rock, a leading cloud and a leading fire to guide you each and every day, and you are awaiting the man who delivered you from slavery.  He’s up on a mountain speaking with God.  You can see the huge cloud that he has been drawn into.  Before he went up, you saw thunder, lightning, and audibly heard the voice of God from heaven.  This is where the Israelites are when Exodus chapter 32 happens.  Take some time and consider their history before reading this chapter.

In Exodus 32, these people of God gather themselves together because they are getting impatient.  They still see the cloud.  They know Moses has left his brother, Aaron, in charge and told them to wait for further instructions.  But they are tired of waiting.  Too many days have passed and they’re restless.  So they get together and go to Aaron and demand that he make them some new gods to lead them.

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” ~Exodus 32:1

They’re like, “Hey boss.  Make some new gods.  The one we got isn’t doing what we want.”

How familiar is that?  Hey, God.  Be a different god.  Be a god that does whatever I want.

There are a lot of “Christians” who treat their religion just like these people did.  It’s not God they want to serve, it’s themselves.  So they twist him and the scriptures into whatever it is they prefer.  Worse still, there are leaders who comply and compromise to their every demand in order to “keep peace” or stay comfortable. Unfortunately, this is what Moses’s brother Aaron did.

Aaron, their surrogate leader in Moses’s absence, did not even blink before acquiescing to their demand.  They say, “Do this!” Aaron says, “No problem.”

Aaron instructs the people who are demanding new gods to remove their gold jewelry and bring it to him.  Where did they get all this gold, though?  Weren’t they slaves?  Oh, that’s right, God had their oppressors give them all the gold in Egypt when he delivered them.  Now, they’re giving it away to make new gods in his place.  How many blessings do we forfeit out of our unfaithful demands and sinful actions?

So Aaron “fashions” a golden calf with a special tool.  He later lies (Exodus 32:24) and says the calf just somehow appeared out of the fire when they put the gold in.  But consider first what the people said after Aaron makes the calf:

And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” ~Exodus 32:5

What?!  These are your gods?!  No, this was melted down gold chiseled out by a man to look like a cow.  This inanimate object never did anything, yet they credit it with leading them out of Egypt – the very thing their REAL God did.  All the while, their surrogate leader is pretending it was for the Lord – in his honor!  What?!

This is complete insanity.  Let me say that again.  THIS IS COMPLETE INSANITY.  This is complete insanity especially considering that God was up there at this very same time with Moses calling Aaron to the very highest honor among his people – the high priest.  It really makes you wonder why on earth God chose Aaron at all.  As God is choosing Aaron to be the very first high priest, Aaron is obeying evil commands from his subordinates, building an idol for them with his own hands, worshiping the idol with them, and pretending the whole charade is in honor of the Lord.  Then, he’s eating, drinking – partying! – and “playing” as if it’s a wonderful, celebratory time.  And, if we look ahead just a few verses, we find him lying about the whole thing.

This is a man who has just forsaken the true God for idols, forsaken his brother, forsaken his charge over the people of God, forsaken the spiritual welfare of the people God had given him responsibility over – his own people to boot – and all for what?

Perhaps he saw how they’d grumbled against Moses when he didn’t go along with their demands.  Maybe he wanted to be popular and well-liked.  Maybe he was afraid of the people.  Whatever his reasons, this man whom God is rising up for even greater honor in leadership is a man of complete compromise at this point in his life.

And maybe God would have it that way to show Aaron the depth of his own sin prior to exalting him to the position of high priest so that he might be sufficiently humbled as preparation beforehand.  I don’t know for sure but what I do know is that God’s ways are not our ways.  I wouldn’t have picked this guy to be the trash collector in the temple, let alone the high priest.  He cowardly gave in to his subordinates’ idolatrous demands.  He participated in their sin to the point of enabling and providing for it.  He pretended to be using the sin he was committing as worship to the Lord.  He celebrated when he should have been mourning.  He forsook God, his own brother, and his people.  He was greatly unfaithful to the position he had already been given by God.  He lied to protect himself from accountability and responsibility when he was caught in the act.  This is not a man I would trust!!! Or choose!  Or submit to as my leader!  No stinking way!!!

But God chose him.  Moses forgave and interceded for him despite his righteous anger over his brother’s sin and failure.  And God had mercy.  He allowed Aaron and his sons to repent and still made them priests.

In my flesh and in my disgust over Aaron’s unfaithfulness I want the moral of the story to be, “Don’t trust crappy leaders,” or “Tie cowards and compromisers up by their underpants and place them in the public square for a few days.”  But that’s not the lesson for me in this passage.  The moral of this story is, “God had mercy.”  God has mercy.  And it’s not just for me and those who haven’t hurt me or other people when we fail.  It’s for everyone who repents – even cowardly, compromising, idolatrous, unfaithful, betraying, deceitful leaders over God’s people.

This is a hard lesson for me because so many of exactly those kind of men have deeply hurt me personally.  But God has mercy.  I forgive them.  Let us love like God when men fail us in every way imaginable.  Amen.

 

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rest

There is one command that God gives as preparation (Exodus 16:23), directly before (Exodus 20:11), at the front of (Exodus 23:12), and, now, in Exodus 31:12-18, directly after all the other instructions he had given Moses regarding a covenant life with his people. This means that it was part of the moral law, the judicial law, and the ceremonial law.   God insists upon Sabbath-keeping.

Wait.  What?  If Sabbath-keeping was a part of the moral law, just like being forbidden to murder and commit adultery, what does that mean for us today?

The principle God was establishing was rest.  This was the example that he himself set in creation.

Work, work, work, work, work, work, rest.  Work, work, work, work, work, work, rest.  Work, work, work, work, work, work, rest.

This is God’s model.  God wasn’t telling his people to rest for their health.  Ok, he was, but there was way more underneath this command than that.  While it would indeed give them better health – physical, mental, and emotional – this was an explicit command for which the penalties were banishment and/or death!

Hey kids, you rest, or, you die!

What?! What is God trying to show these people – and us – because, after all, this is moral law, right?

The text says, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” ~Exodus 31:12-13

Above all.  Above ALL, do this.  After everything else God has just instructed, this is above all of that on the to do list.  Why?!

“…for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.”

Matthew Henry says, “If we sanctify God’s day, it is a sign between him and us that he has sanctified our hearts: hence it is the character of the blessed man that he keeps the sabbath from polluting it.”

Our willingness to rest proves our faith and trust in God.  Our willingness to rest proves our faith and trust in God to a restless, faithless, anxiety-ridden world.  Our willingness to rest proves our faith and trust in God when there is more work laid upon our shoulders than we could possibly ever do.  It is an act of great trust.  Willingness to rest is the antithesis of God’s most hated human act: self-sufficiency.

Still, why was this part of moral law?  Does that mean if I work seven days a week that I am morally corrupt?

Some may argue that case, and I would agree that such a practice is wholly unwise as well as evidence of the lack of faith in God’s provision, however, I personally do not believe that is why God included it in the moral law.

For the Old Testament believers, there was no distinction.  The law was the law was the law.  God said it and they had to keep it to the best of their ability.

For New Testament believers, because of Jesus’ fulfillment of God’s law on our behalf, we no longer continue in the keeping of the Old Testament Jewish ceremonial laws and rituals.  In fact, to do so would be an affront and an abomination to the finished work of Christ on our behalf.

But what of the Old Testament moral law that God gave?  New Testament believers are indeed called to keep the moral law in the very same way – with the very same diligence and vigilance as the Old Testament believers were.

Therefore, Sabbath-keeping and rest are required.  Sabbath-keeping and rest, however, point us to our eternal rest.  Our infractions of this command have more to do with trusting in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and our resting in faith in Him alone than they do with physically working on a specific day of the week.  (Again, not implying that a weekly rest from our physical labor is not necessary or helpful, just saying that I do not believe that is the indication for New Testament believers as far as moral transgression goes.)

In other words, our “moral” duty to rest is realized when we trust in Christ alone by faith alone for our own salvation and refuse to point at any and all of our own work or works when determining our standing with God.  Obeying God’s command to rest is meant to, as the text says, be a sign that we may know the Lord sanctifies us.

That we may know what?  That the Lord sanctifies us.  Who sanctifies?  The Lord.  Our earthly rest, or, ceasing from our earthly work,  is meant to remind us whose work ultimately changes us and allows us to enter true, eternal rest.  That’s the whole point of this Sabbath rest – knowing and understanding that it is the Lord’s work to save and sanctify – not ours – and nothing we can ever do would be work enough to accomplish it.  Therefore, we must rest in him if we will live and not die eternally.

Working is obligatory on this earth.  Works for the kingdom are obligatory in that without them our faith is dead.  But, even more so, rest (in Christ) is obligatory because without it we prove our that faith does not even exist within us.

The physical reality that these Jews were called to is a spiritual reality that we Christians are called to.  Both point to eternal rest as the ultimate fulfillment and reward of keeping this commandment.  That helps us understand why God stressed it so much and why it was so important to keep the Sabbath.

After this final instruction on the necessity of rest for God’s people, God finally sends Moses back down the mountain with the two tablets (set #1) with the law written by his very own finger.

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