Exodus 19:16-25 ~
20110626 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~
Exodus 19:16-25 The Awesome Presence of God; Not Without a Mediator
Saved to Worship
As we've seen so
far in the book of Exodus, we are saved to worship.
Exodus 8:1 ...
‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may
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.”
synonymous with worship. When Pharaoh was trying to set the terms of
the Exodus, he wanted them to leave their cattle behind as
collateral so that they would return.
Exodus 10:25 But
Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt
offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 26 Our
livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for
we must take of them to serve the LORD our God, and we do not
know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.”
The service to
God that they were preparing for, the service to the LORD, was the
service of sacrifice and offerings, service of worship.
Any act of
service to the Lord is ultimately an act of worship, because any
service we perform for the Lord that is pleasing to him is done, not
because we have something of value to offer to God, but because he
has been so undeservedly gracious to us that what he has given to us
we can reflect back to him in worship.
1 John 4:19 We
love because he first loved us.
Romans 11:35 “Or
who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For
from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory
language of service or worship is used in the next chapter in the
context of not bowing down to false gods:
Exodus 20:3 “You
shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for
yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under the earth.5 You shall not bow down to them or serve
them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the
iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth
generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to
thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
We are saved to
worship. God in this chapter will put his own glory on display in
such a way that we will see that he is worthy of all our worship. He
is worthy of our service of worship. He is worthy of all our
affection, all our devotion. He is worthy of all that we are. To him
alone be glory forever.
We are saved to
worship. But we must prepare for worship. Meeting with the living
God is no light matter. God is dangerous. Proper precautions must be
taken. Boundaries must be set. Those who attempt to force themselves
uninvited into the presence of God must be put to death. God is to
be taken seriously. In verses 10-15, God demands that Moses take two
days to consecrate the people, and prepare them for this encounter
with the Most High. God says:
Exodus19:11 and be
ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come
down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
God is going to
formally introduce himself to his people. Remember, God has already
poured out his undeserved grace on them. He delivered them from
bondage. He has been caring for their every need. He has been their
protection, and their source of all good things. Now, God is
entering into a covenant relationship with his people. He is going
to manifest himself in a visible way unlike any other.
is a visible manifestation of the invisible God. God is putting his
glory on display in a way that will communicate something of the
truth of the awesomeness of his limitless being, just a glimpse of
who he really is.
The Fear of the
Exodus 19:16 On
the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and
a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that
all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the
people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the
foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount 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 the whole mountain trembled
greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder,
Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The LORD came down
on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. ...
This is an
awesome display of God's glory. Trembling is the appropriate
response to God's presence. Remember, this is the God who makes
something out of nothing. He created all things visible and
invisible (Col.1:16) He holds up the universe by the word of his
power (Heb.1:3). He spoke galaxies into existence. He breathes out
life. This is the God who will cause the sky to be rolled up like a
scroll (Rev.6:14). Trembling is the appropriate response to this
great God. In this passage, both the people and the mountain itself
tremble at the presence of the most high God.
Isaiah 66:2 All
these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be,
declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who
is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
recounts this event in Deuteronomy 4, he reminds the people:
how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the
LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them
hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that
they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’
11 And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while
the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in
darkness, cloud, and gloom. 12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of
the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no
form; there was only a voice.
God showed up in
fire so that his people would learn to fear him, so they would have
a proper awe, a holy terror, a deep reverence. Then in Deuteronomy
chapter 6 he says:
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD
our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we
are this day.
Fear God for
your good! The Psalmist calls us to worship this way:
Psalm 33:8 Let all
the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand
in awe of him!
Psalm 111:10 The
fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice
it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
See how fear of
the Lord is linked to worship? An essential part of worship is the
fear of the Lord.
The New Covenant
Turn over to
Hebrews 12, where the author contrasts this event at Sinai with the
experience of the New Testament believer in Jesus:
Hebrews 12:18 For
you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and
darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and
a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be
spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was
given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be
stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses
said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to
Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to
the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to
God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made
perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to
the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of
Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if
they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth,
much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised,
“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the
heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,”
indicates the removal of things that are shaken––that
is, things that have been made––in order that the things
that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful
for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer
to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God
is a consuming fire.
As New Covenant
believers, we have something better, something greater, something
more. But even now as New Testament believers, we are still called
to 'offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our
God is a consuming fire.' Let's look back to our passage in Exodus,
and then we will see one of the major contrasting differences that
makes the New Covenant better than the old.
20 ...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.” 25 So Moses went down
to the people and told them.
Up – down
– up – down. God calls Moses up. God sends Moses back
down. God calls Moses up. God sends Moses back down. Moses is acting
as the mediator of this covenant. He is the go-between, the one who
represents God to the people and the people to God. But in the
following chapter, God speaks directly to his people. At the end of
this encounter with God, the people cry out for a mediator. The
people need a mediator.
Exodus 20:18 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.”
The holiness of
God brings to light the sinfulness of the human heart. For sinful
man to be in the presence of God means death. The people needed
someone to go between and represent them to God. This is what Job
longed for when he said about the Almighty:
Job 9:32 For he is
not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to
trial together. 33 There is no arbiter between us, who might lay
his hand on us both.
An arbiter who
would lay his hand on us both. Someone to represent sinful man
before a holy God. So terrifying was the sight that even Moses
trembled with fear.
Come to Jesus!
Hebrews 12:22 But
you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous
made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and
to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of
They came to the
mountain smoking with fire, but we have come to the city of the
living God. We come into the presence of innumerable angelic beings
that are so awesomely terrifying that we feel almost compelled to
worship them. We come into the assembly of those enrolled in heaven,
all the saints who believed throughout all history and around the
globe. We come to God the judge of all. This is a more terrifying
scene than Mount Sinai – saints and angels and God the judge.
But we come to Jesus. We come to Jesus, the mediator of a new
covenant. We have a mediator!
1 Timothy 2:5 For
there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the
man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is
the testimony given at the proper time.
We come to
Jesus, the only mediator between God and men. We have a better
mediator than Moses. We come to Jesus, infinite God, who became
flesh so that he could bear in his body all our sins on the tree. We
come to Jesus, our sinless substitute, who was crucified for us. We
come to Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation, who cried
out 'it is finished!' as he hung there in our place. Because of
Jesus, we do not stand far off.
Ephesians 2:13 But
now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near
by the blood of Christ.
We have been
reconciled to God by the sacrifice of Christ. God has entered into
relationship with his people.
...God made [us] alive together with him, having forgiven us all our
trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against
us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the
Hebrews 12:24 and
to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood
that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
cried out to God from the ground (Gen.4:10) guilty, guilty, guilty –
you are under a curse. The blood of Jesus speaks a better word.
'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do' (Lk.23:34).
Forgiveness for undeserving sinners. The price has been paid. 'It is