Covered: Exodus 19-20 // 24-32
Not Covered: Exodus 21-23
Memory Verses: Romans 6:23 // Hebrews 9:27
I sure hope you are enjoying our reading as much as I am. So far we have seen some pretty amazing things – God gives a promise of salvation and a great nation to Abraham, God shows amazing favor and faithfulness to Joseph, and God delivers His people from Pharaoh/Egypt through Moses just to name a few. Well in our passage this week we will engage with the story of Moses ascending to Mount Sinai to receive the law from God.
When I first think of “the law” my mind immediately goes to the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17), but what we are going to see in our reading this week is it is so much more. The entirety of the Old Testament Law is actually 613 individual commands – some you will be very familiar with and others not so much. If you have extra time this week, feel free to jump into Exodus 21-23 (the chapters the F260 skips this week) and check out some pretty crazy laws.
Normally we picture God giving the law to Moses as this simple encounter where Moses slowly climbs up the mountain; God gives him ten rules, then Moses eases his way back down to the people, and then it is all over. But when we look at it carefully, we see Moses approaches God a multitude of times over a span of many days. The last time Moses goes up to meet with God actually lasts so long the people begin to question whether or not Moses will ever return (Exodus 32).
Due to their angst, the people circled up around Aaron (Moses’ brother) and asked him to make them god(s) to protect them and go before them because “we don’t know what happened to that guy Moses.” (Exodus 32:2) Aaron tells them to take off all their gold jewelry so he can melt it down and make it into a golden calf for the people to worship. The people then proceed to worship the calf and offer sacrifices to it because their leaders told them it was what delivered them from Egypt.
Needless to say, God was quite displeased. God was so angry He told Moses to go back down to the people while He allowed His anger to burn towards them. Moses then pleaded with God and reminded Him of the promise He had made to Abraham – a promise of salvation and deliverance. God heard Moses’ plea and relented by not pouring out the disaster He had originally planned; but even though He relented, there were still consequences for the sin of the people. (See Exodus 32:27-35)
What does this mean for us?
Now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking – “Wow. What a crazy story. Mountains, smoke, golden calves, swords, laws, etc. But what in the world does this have to do with us, today, in the 21stt Century?” We don’t melt down our jewelry to make golden calves, and last time I checked, we don’t climb smoky mountains to get rules to live by. So, what does this mean for us?
We have a lot more in common with the Hebrew people than we think. Even though we might not have ever melted down gold jewelry to make it into a golden calf, we have put things before God in our life. Even when we have seen His faithfulness over and over and over (just like the Hebrew people), we still think we know better than God (see Genesis 3 – Adam and Eve) and grasp onto the things of the world instead of the things of God. And because of this, we have sinned; we have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
The problem with sin isn’t necessarily “what we do” but “whom we sin against.” If we sin against a stick, we might get a splinter. If we sin against a person, we might get a black eye or go to jail. But, if we sin against an infinitely great God, then there are much bigger consequences. The Apostle Paul shares what these consequences are in Romans 6:23a (our memory verse for this week) – “For the wages of sin is death…” A wage is something we earn when we do/complete something – “it is what’s due to you.” It could be an allowance for doing your chores, payment for mowing someone’s grass, or a regular paycheck from your employer; it is what you are due because of what you’ve done. That’s what Paul is saying here. He is saying we are all due death because of the sin we have committed against God.
Now, if the story ended there, it would be a sad one. We are all due death, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. Pretty sad story, except Paul wasn’t done there. Actually, God wasn’t done there. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “But…” Don’t you just love “the buts” in the Bible? Even when we messed up (and continually mess up), God made a way for us to be right with Him. Just like Moses interceded on behalf of the Hebrew people with God in Exodus 32, Jesus interceded for us when He came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross – paying the wage for our sin, and conquering death by resurrecting three days later.
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, God’s wrath was satisfied. We have been given a full pardon because of the grace of Jesus Christ. Now, are there still consequences due to our sin? Absolutely. Just like the Hebrew people in Exodus 32, we have to live with the consequences of our mistakes, but God no longer holds us eternally responsible for our sin.
This is the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.
This is what should direct everything we do every day of our life.
So, how can you live out the freedom Jesus has given you today?
Written by: Andrew Bates
Photo Credit: Jed Owen