Out of fear, the Egyptians enslaved God’s people and for 400 years Israel was in bondage to the Egyptians. After a total of 430 years in Egypt, God delivered the nation of Israel out of their slavery after bringing a series of 10 devastating plagues upon Egypt.
God’s powerful presence led Israel with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night right to the edge of the Red Sea where they would be trapped by Pharaoh and his Army who had decided it wasn’t such a good thing to let their slaves go free.
God then parted the Red Sea so that Israel could walk across on dry ground to the other side before killing Pharaoh and his entire army with the same water he had held back for his people.
After journeying into the wilderness, God turned bitter water into sweet, drinkable water. He provided quail for the people to eat, bread from heaven, and water from a Rock.
It’s been quite the road trip for the Israelites!
Lord willing, we will wrap up in chapter 20 next Sunday as we look at the 10 commands. What they are, why they were given, and what they mean for us as Christians today. Do we follow them? Are we bound by them or are they just a suggestion? That’s next Sunday.
Today, however, we will finally see Moses and the people of Israel arrive at Mt. Sinai in Exodus chapter 19 where we will see a promised realized and a purpose proclaimed.
Take your Bible and turn with me to Exodus 19.
This week’s reading also included the end of Exodus chapter 17, where Joshua led the Israelites in battle against Amalek. Moses went to the top of a hill and held the staff of God in his hand. As long as he kept his hands in the air the Israelites were winning, but when he grew tired and lowered his hands the Israelites were losing. So Aaron and Hur provided a rock for Moses to sit on, and then they stood on either side of him holding his hands in the air until Joshua and the Israelites defeated Amalek…
After the victory Moses built an altar and named it “The LORD is My Banner” Yahweh Nissi - Moses wanted to stress that God is our means of victory and fights for his people.
Moses knew that it was the Lord that had given them victory. It is always the Lord that gives victory! Moses had earlier reminded the people of Israel before they crossed the Red Sea “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
In chapter 18, Moses was reunited with his family, including his father-in-law Jethro. Moses told Jethro about all that God had done to rescue and redeem Israel from Egypt and Jethro rejoiced and praised the LORD!
We pick up the narrative in Exodus 19.
Exodus 19:1-25 - On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they pcame into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from qRephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before rthe mountain, 3 while sMoses went up to God. tThe LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 u‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how vI bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be wmy treasured possession among all peoples, for xall the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a ykingdom of priests and za holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 aAll the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you bin a thick cloud, that cthe people may hear when I speak with you, and may also dbelieve you forever.” When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, 10 the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and econsecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them fwash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day gthe LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. hWhoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;1 whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When ithe trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses jwent down from the mountain to the people and econsecrated the people; fand they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the kthird day; ldo not go near a woman.” 16 On the morning of the kthird day there were mthunders and lightnings and na thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud otrumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp ptrembled. 17 Then qMoses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now rMount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and sthe whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the osound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and tGod answered him in thunder. 20 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 uto look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD vconsecrate themselves, lest the LORD wbreak out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, x‘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 ybreak through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Verse one of chapter 19 tells us exactly three months after Israel had left Egypt they came to “the mountain” in the wilderness of Sinai. The same mountain referred to as Horeb and the mountain of God back in chapter three verse one. The same mountain where God had first revealed himself to Moses in fiery holiness from the burning bush.
This was the mountain where God had issued the call to Moses to return to Egypt after spending 40 years tending someone else’s sheep so that Moses would lead Israel out of slavery.
Moses was thrilled that God had come to rescue his people. He was ecstatic that God came down to bring his people to the land flowing with milk and honey, but Moses was not on board with being God’s chosen instrument of deliverance.
So God gave Moses a sign to prove that what he was saying was true, but there was a catch. Moses wouldn’t get the sign until after it had already happened. Some signs are given to stimulate faith and others are given in response to faith, like this one.
Here was the sign back in Exodus 3:12 ““He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
This is exactly what we read happening 16 chapters later in Exodus 19! God said he would deliver Israel out of Egypt and he did. He said that Israel would serve God on this mountain and here they are.
Which shows us the first of three truths from Exodus 19:
I. God keeps His promises (1-3)
One of the grand themes of Exodus is that God is the covenant keeping, faithful God, who always keeps his promises to His people!
Back in week one, we looked at God’s covenant with Abraham back in Genesis 15, a covenant promises of land, descendants, and blessing, and key to the covenant promise was this declaration by the LORD in Genesis 15:13-14 “Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”
After 400 years in slavery that is exactly what happened. God brought judgment on Egypt and Israel left the land with their pockets and bags filled with Egyptian silver and gold.
Generation after generation of Israelites would reflect upon and remember the power of God at work in Exodus to bring about his covenant promises. The Psalmists celebrated a recount the miraculous work of God.
The prophets preached of a new exodus that would be signaled by a voice crying in the wilderness “prepare the way of the Lord.”
God’s entire plan of redemption, all of Scripture, is shaped in the pattern of Exodus
Now, at the base of Sinai, Moses had experienced God’s sovereign, covenant keeping power first-hand in a very personal way.
God had given Moses a promised sign and God had made good on his promise. Moses would forever be a changed man because he knew he could trust God, who always keeps his promises.
So what promises has God given us today? Promises that we can have 100% certainty in him fulfilling in our lives?
First and foremost, God has promised salvation to all who believe in His Son Jesus (Romans 1:16-17; Acts 2:21). Just as with Moses, experiencing this promise requires faith. But there is no greater blessing, no greater promise, than the free gift of eternal life.
If you have not believed in Jesus, trust in him today.
Philippians 1:6 also tells us that God has promised to finish the good work of salvation that he started in us. God promises peace when we pray and comfort in our trials; he promises to supply all our needs (not wants). God promises every spiritual blessing in Christ, Ephesians 1:3.
And brothers and sisters, we can be confident in those promises because God keeps his promises!
On to the second truth of Exodus 19 found in verses four through six.
Here we see that-
II. God saves his people for a specific purpose (4-6)
There are really two parts to this statement. First,
(1) God saves his people
Just as Moses recounted all the miraculous works of God to his father-in-law Jethro, so too, the LORD tells Moses to remind Israel of all he had done for them.
When they were back in Egypt, they witnessed the destruction of the 10 plagues God brought upon the Egyptians even while sparing them from the judgment. It was God who parted the sea! God killed the Egyptian army! God provided bread from heaven and water from a rock!
In the middle of verse four the LORD said “I bore you on eagles’ wings.” It’s a picture of a mother eagle who pushes their baby out of the nest and then lifts them up on her wings to teach them how to fly!
What a beautiful picture of God’s gracious love for his people. Even when Israel was grumbling in the wilderness over lack of food or water, God swooped down to rescue them.
Finally at the end of verse four, the Lord makes things very personal as he says, I “brought you to myself.”
God chose to save Israel because he chose to make a covenant with Abraham and his decedents so that he might display his glory among the nations. Here is what God said in Deuteronomy 7:7-8:
Deuteronomy 7:7-8 “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
God didn’t choose to save Israel because he foresaw something good in them, either faith or works. If that was the basis for God’s choosing then it wouldn’t be grace!
God chooses people for Himself (that’s what election is) based simply on His loving nature and not on anything that the people themselves have done (that’s grace).
Whether it’s in the Old Testament under the old covenant or the New Testament under the new covenant, salvation is always by grace through faith.
Jesus said to those of us who believe in Him in John 15:19 “you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world”
Just as God made provision to save his people through the blood of the Passover lamb, he has now provided the Passover lamb once for all through the blood of his own Son, that he might bring us to God!
God saves his people. Now the second part of that statement-
(2) for a specific purpose
We see this in verses of five and six of Exodus 19.
God’s purpose for Israel was three-fold: they were too be his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
In the New Testament, the apostle Peter quoted this purpose for Israel and applied it to the church today, which consists of both Jews and Gentiles. He said of Christians today:
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
We are chosen by God just as Israel was chosen in the Old Testament and we have the same three fold purposes - to be a people for his own possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
Let’s look at each of these three statements. Why they are so important for God’s people?
(1) God saved us as his treasured possession!
If you are a Christian today, meaning you’ve trusted by grace through faith in Jesus, you are the special treasured possession of the King of kings and Lord of lords!
The end of Exodus 19:5 says God owns the entire earth and that especially means those whom he has chosen to be his own!
God saved Israel to make them his treasured possession. They were freed from slavery in Egypt to be servants of the Living God.
Likewise, we, as Christians today, are not our own for we have been bought with a price! (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
When God saves you from your sin it means that no matter how worthless you may feel, God values you! No matter how unlovable you think you are, you are loved by God! No matter how broken you think your life has become, God has restored you and treasures you!
(2) God saved us to be a kingdom of priests
The role of the priest is to be the go between, the mediator between God and the people!
Every Christian now has access to the presence of God because we are all priests of God! One of the keys of the protestant Reformation that began almost 500 years ago was that there is no special class of priest now, all who believe in Jesus are priests and serve to direct others to God!
Revelation 1:5b-6 “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory.”
Again, what a privilege to know that we have access to the presence of God through the work of the great high priest, Jesus, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven on our behalf!
What a comfort to know that we can pray to God, anywhere, anytime, and he hears us!
(3) God saved us to be a holy nation
We were first introduced to the holiness of God back in Exodus chapter 3. Holiness is a glorious perfection belonging only to the nature of God. The basic sense of the word “holy” is “set apart from that which is commonplace, special, unique.” God is unlike any other being for he alone is complete and infinitely perfect in and of himself.
He is void of evil and sin and he is right and true in all that he does! So too, if God’s people are to represent him before other nations then we must be like him!
The Israelites were to distinguish themselves from the other nations around them by living differently in obedience to God’s commands of the Old Testament. That will be our focus next Sunday in Exodus 20, Lord willing.
As the church, we are in the world, but not of the world, because God’s word of truth sets us apart (John 17:14-17).
We live as salt and light, distinctively different from the world around us, by obeying the commands of God given to us in the New Testament to be holy as he is holy.
When you fail to live a holy life that God has called you to live you derail and even disqualify yourself from effective ministry. Here’s what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth regarding his own fight and desire to live a holy life:
1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Living a holy life takes work, it is hard! In fact, apart form the work of God, it is impossible. The Israelites learned that the hard way.
In Exodus, God chose the nation of Israel to be His holy people, set apart from among all other nations on the earth. The way that they would be clearly distinguished from among the nations was by obeying the commands of God. They would look differently, they would act differently, and they would worship differently. Through their obedience other nations would be drawn to know the One, True God.
If Israel failed to obey, then they would no longer distinguish themselves from the other nations of the earth. They would no longer point other nations to God.
Which is why God added the stipulation to this covenant promise at the beginning of Exodus 19:5 “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant.” Only then would they be able to fulfill the three-fold purpose.
Unfortunately, Israel failed. They couldn’t fulfill the law. They couldn’t be holy. God would have to do it for them. He would have to give them a new heart.
This is what Romans chapter eight is all about. Here are just two verses from that chapter that make it explicitly clear why Israel failed and how Jesus has now done for us what we could never do.
Romans 8:3-4 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Jesus secured for us what we could not do! He fulfilled the law!
Brother’s and sisters in Christ, you are now, because of the work of Christ, a chosen race, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession! You who were once lost and without hope, you are God’s people. Purchased with the shed blood of Jesus, for a specific purpose as we read earlier in 1 Peter 2:9 That you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light!
You are not your own. You have been purchased by God to live a holy life and proclaim the excellencies of God, made known through Jesus Christ!
PRAISE BE TO GOD!!!
On to the third truth found in verse seven through the end of the chapter, where Moses goes back to the people and tells them all that the Lord had commanded them to do.
And in verse eight we read that “All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
They thought they could do it. They had good intentions. But they would quickly prove Romans 8 to be true, the people could not obey God’s law.
And then the end of verse eight says that Moses reported the words of the people back to the Lord.
Obviously, the Lord knew what the people said? So why this exchange here? To show us the third truth-
III. God establishes a mediator between himself and his people (7-25)
Through the intermediary work of Moses, as his chosen servant, God established a pattern whereby his chosen servant would provide the way for his people to come to Him!
Back in the end of verse two and into verse three, the people camped before the mountain “while Moses went up to God”
In verse seven, he went down and spoke to the people and reported back to God what they said. Up to God… down to the people… back up to God… back down to the people.
Moses was the go-between. Why was it necessary?
Look down to verse 23.
The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai to the very presence of God because they were not holy.
Psalm 24:3-4 “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”
Friend, you may think if you live a good enough life or do enough good things, you can ascend the hill of the Lord and enter into his rest. You cannot! You can never do anything to purify your hands or your heart.
Yet, in his mercy, the Lord has made a way for his people to come to him through a mediator. And how were the people supposed to believe and trust in the mediator?!
Look back up at verse nine, “And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”
God would speak from the thick cloud as the lightning was flashing and the mountain was trembling.
The voice of God would be heard by the people so that they would believe. But notice! Not believe in God, but believe in you, Moses, so that they would believe in Moses as the Lord’s Servant.
But Moses ultimately points us to a servant even greater than himself. In Deuteronomy 18-
Deuteronomy 18:15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen”
In the New Testament, we are introduced to this prophet like Moses in almost the exact same image of Exodus 19.
We looked at Luke 8 two weeks ago because it records for us the transfiguration of Jesus. When Jesus allowed Peter, James, and John to see a preview of His glory.
In Luke 9:31 we saw how Moses and Elijah spoke of Jesus’ exodus, which Jesus was about to accomplish through His substitutionary death as the lamb of God and his resurrection unto life.
Jesus would accomplish a new Exodus was through his death, burial, and resurrection in Jerusalem by taking sinners who are trapped against the sea of sin and bringing them safely to the new life on the other side.
But there is yet another, stronger connection to Exodus and Moses just a few verses later in verses 33-35
Luke 9:33-35 “And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
God the Father’s voice boomed from the cloud so that those who heard would believe in the Lord’s Servant, Jesus, and would listen to him just as Moses admonished the people of the one who would come and you shall listen to him.
Isn’t God’s perfect plan glorious!? When we see such clear, unmistakable connections between the Old and New Testament, it’s like we begin to see a few more brush strokes on God’s amazing portrait of redemption.
He is showing us this canvas of His work. To save His people. For His glory. Yet just when we feel as though we can finally catch a glimpse, it escapes us almost as quickly as it came because it’s beyond our comprehension. We can just see the fringe and we praise God. We rejoice that he has done this great work to save his people from our sins.
As we turn to the book of Hebrews 3, there is a picture that apart from whats taking place in Exodus 19, it is a very confusing passage. But now we can see the fringe in Hebrews 3 of what in the world the writer of Hebrews is even talking about.
Hebrews 3:1-6 “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”
Jesus, as God’s Son and chosen servant has come to rescue and redeem his people.
May we hold fast to our confidence and boast all the more, not in ourselves, but in Christ, who is our hope!
Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© Geist Community Church
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