As Christmas draws near, many of us desire to be with the ones we love. As we mature, it is not the gifts that we look forward to most but the opportunity to be with loved ones. And so we make plans, book tickets, pay outrages prices, we navigate insane traffic and travel great distances to be with the ones we love. Christmas is about God coming near to us. He leaves his heavenly abode and draws near to his loved ones, his beloved. At Christmas, God, who loves us, came to us.
This Sunday we will participate in Orphan Sunday. Orphan Sunday is an opportunity to join in with churches all over the world in learning about God's heart for the fatherless. This week we will thank God for the ways He is using our church and study Psalm 68:1-10. God has a plan to care for orphaned and vulnerable children and his plan involves us!
The book of Exodus concludes in stark contrast to its beginning. Israel has graciously been delivered from oppression and cruel slavery by the blood of the lamb and now lives with the presence of the LORD in their midst.
The Lord agreed to fulfill his promise to Abraham to give his descendants the Promised Land despite the rebellion of the Israelites. However, he delivered the devastating news that his presence would not go with the people as the occupied their new home. Moses interceded on behalf of the people declaring to God that the gift of the Promised Land was of no value apart from his presence with his people. The Lord responded favorably once again demonstrating that he is 'God with us'.
In chapters 25-31 God lays out his plan to dwell with his people in tabernacle. The tabernacle is a holy place in which God's presence will reside with his people. However, Israel grieves God (in chapter 32) by breaking the commandments before they even leave Mount Sinai. Israel turns to worship other gods and now stands to bear the wrath of God. Mercifully, Israel is saved through a mediator who pleads for them before God.
The covenant initiated by God with Israel is confirmed in Exodus 24 through the blood of a sacrifice. At the Lord's Supper, Jesus picks up the language of Exodus 24 and initiates a new and better covenant with his disciples. Rather than the shedding of the blood of oxen, Jesus offers his blood as a lasting and perfect sacrifice for our sins that we may be united to God forever.
We conclude Exodus 20 by examining the remaining six commandments and looking to Jesus as the fulfillment of the law. God's law is holy and good and teaches us how to walk righteously before God. But our best efforts are not enough. Praise be to God for a magnificent Savior.
Israel is gathered into the presence of God at Mount Sinai to receive the law of God. There at Sinai, God initiates his covenant relationship with the nation of Israel and commands them to walk in His ways. Indeed the giving of the law to Israel was a gracious act of God. But how are we to think of the Ten Commandments today? Are they helpful for us on this side of the cross of Christ?
Moses has returned to worship the Lord at Mount Sinai just as God had foretold. And God, being rich in mercy, invites Israel into a covenantal relationship. Israel has become a people of privilege and purpose. God calls Israel to be a 'kingdom of priests'. Likewise, our purpose as the church is to bring glory to God by faithfully proclaiming the good news of the gospel.
In Exodus 18 we learn that transformed lives transform lives. Moses shares the story of the mighty deliverance God has provided to his father-in-law, Jethro. The testimony of Moses and the work of God is the means by which Jethro is brought to saving faith in God.