Living with a Holy God – Exodus 19-20 & 32 – Sermon Notes

These are notes from the fifth part of a Bible overview series.

Recap last week. We looked at how God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. We saw his power at work, as well as his holiness and judgement.

Exodus 19-20

Summarise. Focus on the commandments.

There are three legal collections in the second half of Exodus (second – Book of the Covenant – laws related to community life; third is the book of laws in chapters 25-31 – concerned with worship).

1. Why is 20:2 important when understanding the context of the Ten Commandments?

It refers back to Egypt. These laws are for people who have experienced his past and are expecting his future (and therefore live in his present).

2. What are some of the main principles outlined in the commandments?

Respect. A healthy, holy society is built on respect.

Responsibility. We’re responsible before him for how we live with regard to this law.

Retribution.

3. How does the last commandment differ from the others?

Most of them are about acts or words but the last one is about feelings. When we desire something we don’t have, our problem is with our inner life.

4. What does Moses mean in 20:20? What does it mean to fear God?

A right fear of God will lead us not to sin.

Exodus 32

Summarise. Focus on Moses’ prayer.

5. What went wrong? What’s happened? How is Aaron’s behaviour similar to Adam and Eve’s?

People have quickly forgotten the commands. Aaron blames others instead of taking responsibility for his actions.

6. What was Moses’ role?

He acts as a mediator between a just God and a sinful people but also shows righteous anger at their sin.

7. What do you notice about Moses’ attitude?

He’s not going to sit back and do nothing. He pleaded.

8. Looking at the content of the prayer, what characteristics of God does Moses talk about?

  • Grace (brought out of the land of Egypt)
  • Glory (God being discredited among the nations)
  • Goodness (asks God to keep promises to Abraham, Isaac and Israel)

9. Looking at v14, it could be easy to think that God changes his mind. How do we know that this isn’t the case?

God didn’t destroy Israel and he knew he wouldn’t destroy it. He deliberately put Moses in that position so that he would show God’s heart for the people. He prayed in the way God wanted him to.

10. What can we learn about prayer?

God wants us to pray. We don’t have less privilege in prayer than Moses had. We don’t have less access to God. We should pray in a way that reflects God’s character and the love that he has for his people.

11. What do the glimpses of judgement tell us?

A warning of the final judgement to come.

Pray.

Under Pressure – Exodus 1:1-2:11 – Sermon Notes

God seems to be completely absent. Pharaoh gets his people to engage in a massacre of the innocent. The apparent absence of God is a big problem for us and it was a big problem 3,500 years ago for the Israelites.

Even when it looks like God is absent, there are signs that he is present.

God multiplies his people

The more they were oppressed, the more of God’s people there were. God was keeping his promise, but his people were growing at an unexpected moment. After Jesus’ resurrection, the church really started to grow when the authorities launched a great persecution. People were driven out of Jerusalem and the gospel spread everywhere around the Mediterranean. Similar thing has happened in China.

God’s people face down evil powers

The midwives take no notice of Pharaoh as they fear God. Maybe the midwives deliberately delayed getting to the mothers and therefore avoiding killing the babies. The real reason is that they fear God more than Pharaoh.

There are a few places in the Bible where people seem to lie and God commends them for it. The Bible teaches that in most situations we should tell the truth. We lie for personal gain. Telling the truth to get someone in trouble might be a wicked thing to do if your motivations aren’t right. Pharaoh is behaving in such a way that he doesn’t deserve the truth. The circumstances where it’s ok to lie are very rare.

God’s saviour is miraculously preserved

Moses’ mother places him in the river which is where he is rescued rather than drowned. God rescued Moses as he wanted to use him to save others. God shows us the rescue of the saviour as a sign of the rescue that will come to everyone who trusts him. The resurrection of Jesus is a sign of what will happen to everyone of God’s people when he returns.

How to Have a Party – Exodus 23:10-19 – Sermon Notes

These chapters explain the ten commandments. Festivals and celebrations are an important part.

What God’s people celebrate: material and spiritual blessings

The first party lasted a whole year. The different farmers took it in turn to have a sabbath year. There was still work to be done but it was a change of pace. The second party is shorter but more frequent. Every week, a day is set aside for refreshment. A day of doing stuff at a different pace. The other three involve the whole nation gathering for a celebration. All five are different. They all celebrate both material and spiritual blessings. There is a pattern of one rest, six work. None of these separated the spiritual from the material. There is no place in the NT that tells us to have a sabbath. When we have our celebrations, we should follow the principles God gave to Israel. Any festival or celebration should be ‘to the Lord’. We are always enjoying every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Who benefits: everyone, especially the poor

There is a benefit to having material stuff for parties. When Christmas becomes all about material things, people feel left out. Reminding our friends that there is more to life than the stuff we have is a good thing to do. God’s strategy for these parties is that they give away extra to those who have less. Our feasting is based on other people’s work. Shopping is the biggest leisure pastime in the UK. Do the poor benefit from our celebration of God’s goodness?

How we stand out: by rejecting pagan partying

People used to bake blood to make it nicer. God doesn’t want his people to engage in this. God wants the best of the first fruits.

The pagan thing we are in danger of believing turns out to be sympathetic magic. Hanging out with great people in the hope that their glory will rub off on you. Exclusivity. We recreate the same thing on a smaller scale. Who do we invite to parties? People who make a good party, people who will make it look more impressive.

Whenever we celebrate, we’re thanking God for spiritual and material blessings. The way we do that is shown by who we choose to party with. We should live with a presumption that we start to glorify Jesus. Taking communion is an example of a celebration that is for anyone who trusts in Jesus. Sounds exclusive but that’s still open for anyone. God has invited us to join in his party.

Men at Work – Exodus 5:1-21

We learn four things that happened in which God challenges the world.

His word is ignored

Moses is full of confidence when he goes to see Pharaoh, but he takes no notice at all. He doesn’t care about the Lord. God’s words created the universe but Pharaoh ignores it.

His children are persecuted

Pharaoh ups the workload. The slave drivers torment the Israelites. The Israelites weren’t lazy and had been working for several centuries without rebellion. Pharaoh didn’t recognise God’s word so he had no moral constraints. Intolerant is a word used a lot against Christians. The root of persecution is always the same, it’s the failure of recognising God’s word.

His people are divided

Pharaoh plays a political blinder. Their response to turn on Moses and Aaron is the wrong one. They show us how rebellious we can be when things aren’t right, complain to the church leaders, easy to blame them. Things were outside of Moses’ control when he went to speak to Pharaoh.

He will rescue his people just as he planned (see Ex. 7:1-7)

Even Pharaoh’s response of not listening was under God’s control. When Jesus came, Pilate rejected him. Jesus said he has prepared a place for us and will return. When people complain to us, it’s tragic for them, not for us.

We won’t be surprised when we see Christians being given a hard time. God’s plan won’t be changed by sin and people ignoring him. We should be compassionate towards other people.

How to Have a Relationship with God – Exodus 40:1-38 – Sermon Notes

True worship…

…is not possible unless God initiates it

We want to believe we can worship God in any way we like. There’s no way for any of us to work out what God is like. There’s no chance of worship unless God starts it. Unless he reveals himself to us, we can’t even know he’s even there. He does make it possible though to know him.

…requires total obedience

Every time Moses does something, it’s ‘as the Lord commanded him’. Lots of repetition. Moses ensures that every detail were exactly as God instructed them to be. It wouldn’t be possible for the people to worship if this wasn’t done. Moses is starting again. God had initiated a new covenant and provided a way for people to know him.

We have a problem that looked as though it might have been overcome by Moses. He wasn’t obedient enough and never arrived in the promised land. What hope is there for true worship for all of us?

…is available to us only through Jesus Christ

Without Jesus, there could be no true worship. The temple Jesus spoke of was his body. Jesus is the bringer of the Spirit. He is the truth. Only Jesus has been obedient. By his blood all those who trust in him can truly worship. Good deeds should be an expression of gratitude. It is personal faith in Jesus that brings true worship.

Make Jesus the centre of your worship. Each of us can have a fresh start.

Bridge Over Troubled Water – Exodus 13:17-14:31 – Sermon Notes

The heart of the problem is that they were not yet serving God.

Freedom from judgment is only half a rescue because…

Your enemy must be destroyed

They were in groups of 50 and very few would’ve had experience of leadership. God’s people weren’t equipped or trained. God leads them on another route, he takes the Israelites so that they’re stuck between the Egyptians and the Red sea. Moses tells them not to panic and to trust that God will fight for them. God created a pathway while the Egyptians were struck with darkness. God doesn’t just rescue, he also judges. The world of the Egyptians returns to a state of watery chaos and judgment. He is showing that he’s in control of the world and no one else. Our idols threaten us with destruction if we abandon them. Jesus defeated the devil when he died.

You are only free when you serve the God of glory

Like the Israelites we are always serving something. The things that we serve don’t have emotions. God doesn’t depend on the Israelites for anything. God isn’t needy. The things he asks of his servants are never things he needs. True freedom isn’t being forgiven and then doing what we want. The only way to freedom is by serving and living for Jesus.

The Winner Takes It All – Exodus 2:15-27 – Sermon Notes

God is a soldier – praise him for your security (v1-21)

Moses composed this song that was an instant hit. Cover versions released throughout the Bible. The song celebrates the great battle won by the Lord as a warrior.

God is a patient soldier. People see suffering and ask why doesn’t God do something and when he does, people say he is vile. God takes on those who seek to destroy the defenceless. He exalts himself by saving others. God could demand honour by his creative power but he also exalts himself by doing good and rescuing people. The option to be rescued by God was there for everyone. Revelation 15 – song of Moses.

God is a doctor – trust him for your health (v22-27)

The Israelites treat Moses badly. Instead of judgment God gives them sweet water to quench their thirst. He also gives them a warning in that they need to listen to what he says. Each one of us is an enemy of God the soldier. God showed them that his intentions were kind and good. God heals everyone who recognises the sickness of their sin. He cures us by taking the disease on himself. He heals anyone who comes to him. He just asks for our trust.

We need the healing and forgiveness that only God can offer.

How to Ruin Your Life – Exodus 32:1-35 – Sermon Notes

How should we think about God’s promises? Are God’s promises wasted on us of we don’t keep our promises?

God’s people are faithless and corrupt themselves

The people had made a commitment to God but they’ve forgot God’s mighty works. They’ve given up on the Lord they used to fear and now want a man made god that their senses can interact with. Aaron, the high priest, is no better. He’s weak and doesn’t tell them to repent of this rejection. He works hard to make a respectable idol.

Idolatry comes naturally to us but is hard work

‘There are more idols in the world than there are realities.’ – Nietzsche

We feel the need to defend our idols, explain why it is so great to worship your career. Aaron realises they should still be worshipping the Lord. He tries to mix them together and worship both.

We worship Jesus but we also worship money or power or relationships. It is the Lord and the Lord alone who should be worshipped.

Idolatry is degrading

God’s people have forgot how powerful he really is. Israel is described as running wild and out of control. We have to make up stories to make our idols look worth worshipping. It’s all very unconvincing. How will God respond?

God is faithful and will not destroy his people

God could destroy them all. God really is holy and sin is that serious. Moses prays this great prayer because God has raised him up and is at work in him. God has revealed his response to their sin but Moses calls on God to be what he is, to be faithful. He will not destroy his people because he is faithful. God will not give up on us because of our sin.

Moses throws the stones to the floor, not just in anger but as a sign. He breaks the covenant because they’ve already broken the covenant. Moses tries to make atonement for their sin but this mediator cannot make atonement.

Jesus is a much better mediator. He is the one who intercedes for us and is the one who makes atonement for our sin.

We are faithless and so often corrupt ourselves but God is faithful and in Christ atones for our sin.

Death on the Nile – Exodus 11:1-12:51 – Sermon Notes

The danger to human society here comes from God himself.

When God’s judgment comes

When God announces he will kill all the firstborn in all of Egypt, we’re seeing a glimpse of judgment day. The future is going to be seen in history for just one night. God brings a piece of that terrible day into their present. The cause of the judgment is the Egyptians not knowing God. The way they treated the Israelites is a symptom of their rejection of God.

The lamb shows us that we all deserve it

Everybody owes a debt. All the hopes and dreams were bound up with the firstborn. This meant everyone was to be judged. God cannot just forgive people without payment. God instructs the Israelites not to go outside. Without the protection of the lamb’s blood, they face God’s judgment.

The lamb dies so we can all escape it

There are hints of a bigger and greater rescue (12:38). There is a bigger slavery that people need to be rescued from. There is no mention of a Passover lamb in the NT accounts. The real Passover lamb wasn’t on the table that day; he was at the table. A man that had to die so that we could escape the judgment we all deserve. He died for everyone. The death of Jesus means that there are two places in the universe that we can be. Outside is the place of God’s judgment, the place we all deserve to be. Inside is the place of protection under the blood of the Passover lamb. Inside is part of the family; being someone who accepts what Jesus has done.

Does your life look like that of someone who understands the Passover lamb? Are we transformed?

How to Get God to Do What You Want – Exodus 33:1-34:10 – Sermon Notes

We want our own way and control. People described as ‘stiff-necked’. God is saying you’ve become like the thing they were worshipping. God is far away from them because of their rebellion. What kind of relationship with God do we need?

The thing sinners need: God not being close

The people of Israel weren’t so spiritually blind. When they’re told God will give them a victory, they begin to weep.

The worst thing that can happen to sinners: God not being close

Moses pleads with God to be with them. Without God there’s nothing special about them at all. Unless God is with us, we’re just the same as any other gathering. There’s nothing about us that says we’ve got divine favour.

The only solution for sinners: God punishing and forgiving sin

God’s glory is his goodness. It’s not what he looks like, it’s what he does. How can God be forgiving and judging? How can he be compassionate and punish the guilty? Moses never really found out the answer. He had glimpses. No one saw it. Not until Jesus came. Moses saw a trailer. He saw the back. If you want to really see what God is actually like, there’s only one place to go – the cross of Jesus. Without Jesus, we’re no different from anyone else.