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Posts Tagged ‘clarity’

sinai

In Exodus 24:1-10, God has just given the most important guidelines for human behavior ever given to man.  After Moses receives the ten commandments and the promises of God, he immediately begins working to share them.  Good leader Moses told the people what God expected of them.  Good leader Moses wrote it all down.  Good leader Moses got up early and worshipped.  Good leader Moses read the words aloud to the people.  Then, he covered them with the blood of the sacrifices.

Notice that Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

After God reveals himself to the leaders, he calls Moses back up the mountain.  Then, he tells him to do something very difficult: wait.

The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  ~Exodus 24:12

Wait, Moses.  Go where I tell you and wait there.  The reason for the waiting given to Moses was, “that I may give you the tablets of stone…”  Moses was to wait so God could physically give him the tablets with the commands written on them.

Moses obeyed.  He took his young friend Joshua and he went where God sent him.  He put two others in charge over the people while he was gone.  He is told to wait, and he in turn tells those under him to wait as well.

Note, good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

Moses goes up and a cloud covers the mountain.  God’s presence descended and for six days Moses waited upon God.  It was not until day seven that Moses heard God call out to him.

Note, even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

When God does appear, the text says, Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” When God appeared after all Moses’s waiting and righteous obedience, it was not just him that saw God.  All the people below saw God appear.  Moses wasn’t making this stuff up and they knew it.  There could be no mistake.  God was doing something of unmitigated importance.  They all saw and they all knew.  Makes you wonder how they could ever choose to make and worship and idol while this was still going on.  But, as we all know they did just that with the golden calf.

Anyway, Moses is no stranger to the fire of God.  When he was called to deliver God’s people out of Egypt, it was a burning bush that God chose to reveal himself and speak through.  Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.  Little wonder the Bible says, “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

God kept Moses forty days and forty nights as he elaborated upon all the laws and also gave Moses the physical tablets of stone with the law written down on them by His very own finger.

Note, when God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

Just to recap, here is what Exodus 24:12-18 gives us practically to apply in our lives today:

1. Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

2. Good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

3. Even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

4. Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.

5. When God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

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leadership

After God promises his people the promise land and gives them the instructions on how to get there, Moses, their leader, is called back up to the mountain by God.

Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.” ~Exodus 24:1-11

Moses and his leaders were called up to worship the Lord.  They were instructed not to get too close to the mountain, where God’s presence was.  Their staying back speaks of the great reverence and holy fear all men are to have for God.  Moses alone was to come close to the Lord.

Moses hears from the Lord.  Moses obeys the Lord.  When we hear from the Lord, especially in an instruction, the very next action should always be to obey the Lord.

In verse 3, Moses comes back down to the people and tells them everything God had said.  Moses was up front about the requirements God gave to him and to them.  He gave the people the requirements of God before asking whether they were willing to commit to and obey them.  This is a practice many wanna be preachers seem to forget today.

Not only is Moses clear about God’s expectations before asking the people to commit, he himself is prepared before he ever speaks to the people at all.  A good leader must always hear from God, obey him, spend time in worship, and spend time alone with God before they would go to others to share God’s word with them.

In verses 3 and 8 we see the people of God agreeing wholeheartedly and unanimously to the terms of God’s agreement.  If they would but obey his rules and laws, he would bless their food, water, take away sickness, barrenness, give them long life, and annihilate all of their enemies.  Sounds like a great deal for God’s people right?!  Who wouldn’t agree to that?

After they were fully informed and wholeheartedly agreed, Moses wrote down all of the laws and rules.  This way, no changes could made, less error could occur, and everyone would be clear about what they had agreed to abide by and what the requirements actually were.

Good leaders make sure there is clarity even after speaking truth.  Writing down an agreement between parties is always a good practice when the terms are greatly important.  Much less room for error and dispute can be had once things are in writing.  Little wonder why God gave us a written Word to follow.

After Moses writes everything down, the text says he gets up early in the morning and builds an altar.  He sends men to make sacrifice on the altar and he puts half the blood on the altar and saves half in a basin.

Getting up early and giving the Lord the firstfruits of our day is a practice good leaders ought to get used to.  If God is not first for us each and every day, it is likely He will not be first any day.

After the sacrifices are made, Moses picked up the Book of the Covenant where he had just written down all of God’s expectations and he read it to the people.  He told them what God expected, he wrote it down, and then he read it to them word for word once again.  Again, they agreed (verse 7).  Finally, Moses threw the blood he had saved on all of them.  This was to remind them of their need for a sacrifice, and that they were to be living sacrifices for God as they had promised to be.  The blood covering them ratified the covenant God had made with them.

Clarity, clarity, clarity.  Good leaders always, always, always make certain that terms are clear when expectations are given and before the deal is sealed.  The blood points us to our need for Christ to be sacrificed for us, our duty to be living sacrifices, and that He himself, through his death on the cross and our being covered by His own blood ratifies the covenant God has made with us.

Lastly, after the Covenant is confirmed between God and his people, in verses 9-11, God shows up.  God reveals his presence to the leaders.  Let the same be true for us.

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Looking at Exodus 20:18-21 which are the words spoken immediately after the 10 commandments are given.

 If we look back to just prior in chapter 19, we see that strict rules are given by God about being purified and not going too close to the mountain.  The mountain is then enveloped in smoke and people see thunder, lightning, and hear trumpets.  It is then that the Lord comes down and Moses is first called up.  Moses goes up the mountain and God sends him right back down to tell the people to stay back and warn them again.

 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 And the Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.” ~Exodus 19:20-24

At this point, Moses is probably like dude, I just climbed up here and you’re sending me back down to tell my guys what I just told them.  We have been preparing for this for three days.  They are consecrated already, God. I warned them already.  You made me draw lines around the mountain, remember?

So that’s where we are when God begins to speak the ten commandments.  The people have been warned twice and consecrated and Moses is somewhere at the foot of the mountain with them because it does not appear that he has had time to go back up the mountain with Aaron yet.  The ten commandments are given and immediately afterward is where we pick up today.

18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. ~Exodus 20:18-21

These supernatural events – thunder, lightning, smoke, the trumpets alongside the voice of God Himself produced absolute terror in the people – as they would any and all of us.  The text says they stood “far off.”  They elected Moses their mediator.  “You talk to God Moses.  Don’t let him talk to us! We will die for sure!” 

Moses answers them and says, essentially, “Fear not; fear God.”  This is so cool.  Exodus 20:20.  Here is our clear vision.  Here’s 20/20 guys.  Don’t fear death and the judgement of sin.  Fear the God who command you not to sin!  If you do the latter, you will no longer have to fear the former.  If you refuse to do the latter, you better fear the former.  Therefore, fear not; fear God.

What was happening right before the eyes of these people was fearful.  Just close your eyes and consider it.  Consider standing in the wilderness and witnessing these events.  It was indeed terrifying and meant to be so.  But what were they ultimately afraid of?  That the fire and fury of God would consume and destroy them.  Moses says, “No.  Don’t fear that.  Fear God and you will live.”

The truth is, our sin and guilt will destroy us and his judgment will consume us if we fail to fear God, believe the promises of the Savior, and trust in his mercy.  So fear not; fear God is what Moses says to them and then, this is amazing, Moses walks towards the darkness.  Everyone else is getting as far away from God’s presence as humanly possibly and Moses is drawing near.  The first question that came to my mind when reading this passage was, “Why wasn’t Moses afraid?”  He’s just a man like the rest of them, right?  And the answer is, Moses was not afraid because Moses knew his calling.  Moses heard God’s call and nothing was going to stop him from doing that which God had purposed for his life.  He wasn’t afraid to draw near to the most powerful being in the universe because Moses had heard directly from God himself on numerous occasions and God had graciously instructed him.  Moses knew his call.  He knew the voice of His Master and it gave him great confidence and assurance to do all that which God expected of him – fearful or not.  Moses was courageous because he knew and understood his call.

In all of this we see how the law was given.  This was quite an epic event – one not soon forgotten.  This was God’s way of making absolutely clear to us that His law is of utmost importance.  He wants us to learn to fear Him first, above all else, that we might not sin, lest, as we deserve, we die without mercy.  The law was given in such a way that it might startle, wake, and humble sinners in preparation for Christ and the gospel.  Without understanding the wrath and judgement we all deserve for transgressing this law, we cannot understand and desire the mercy and forgiveness of the gospel.

If you are sharing a gospel that only includes love, mercy, and forgiveness while leaving out the law, you are not sharing the true gospel.  Without the law, sinners do not have a need for a Savior.  The law, the Bible teaches, is the schoolmaster meant to bring us to Christ.  We must realize the seriousness of God’s holy law, understand how thoroughly we have broken it, and feel the weight of God’s coming judgement before we feel any read need for a Savior or commit to Him as Lord.

So share the gospel.  Don’t forget to talk about the law, first, though.  Amen.

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