Summary: From Exodus 20:18-21 we see how Moses and God planned out a worship experience for Israel on Mt. Horeb, and the outcome of that worship experience.
Climb #1: Lessons from Mt. Horeb
We are beginning a new 6 week series called "Climb" dealing with various mountains in the Bible where significant things happened.
Today we’ll talk about Mt. Horeb, also known as Mt. Sinai. This mountain plays an important part in the history of God’s People. … There is a song “one More Time Around Mt. Sinai”? (Sing it for the congregation) They spent a lot of time hanging out around this rugged, barren mountain.
We’re going to learn some lessons from Mt. Horeb that can teach us to know God so much more intimately than we have in the past.
The main lesson of Mt. Sinai is that … when it comes to His People … God desires relationship more than rules.
1. The promise at Mr. Horeb
At the beginning of Exodus chapter 3 we see Moses tending sheep in the back side of the desert. This was Moses’ “home turf” from age 40 to age 80.
• From birth – 40, Moses lived as a Prince in Egypt; At age 40, he tried to stop an Egyptian master from beating a Hebrew slave and in the process, Moses killed the Egyptian. He had to run for his life, and he ran into the wilderness.
• From age 40-80 Moses herded sheep in the wilderness near Mt. Horeb. During this time, Moses got married and had some children.
One day, Moses was herding sheep …. as usual … when something completely unexpected happened. God Himself --- the same God Moses had heard about --- the God who spoke to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob --- the One true God took the initiative to speak to Moses. Of course, at first Moses didn’t know that’s what was happening. At first all Moses knew was that a bush on the slope of Mt. Horeb was burning … and burning … and burning … but never burning out. Now Moses could have ignored the strange sight, but he decided to go over and take a look.
And right there at the base of Mt. Horeb, the creator of the Universe spoke to Moses audibly. God began to unfold his plan to Moses the way a friend would share his plans with his best friend.
God outlined his plan to rescue the children of Israel after hundreds of years of Egyptian slavery. He commissioned Moses to be his representative before Pharaoh. And though there is much more I could say about this scene there is one specific thing I want to point out. Notice in Exodus 3:12 that God said this to Moses: “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Notice that a definite part of God’s plan included a festival of worship right there on Mt. Horeb. God had told Moses that he was standing on Holy Ground. Now he revealed that this very Mountain was the place He intended to meet with the people he was about to set free.
2. The Path to Mt. Horeb
Next we’ll skip on to Scene two where Moses stands before Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.” Exodus 5:1. This is repeated in Ex 7:16, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert.”
I must admit here that I usually blew right by these verses paying little attention to them because I assumed that the big deal here is the land of Canaan, that land flowing with milk and honey, that they would someday call their own. I knew that the Mt. Horeb worship experience would take place, but saw it as “small potatoes” in comparison to conquering Canaan. Not so any more. I see now that the worship festival at Horeb was a major component of God’s plan. This was to be the place where the rescued Israelites would --- like Moses ---hear God’s voice with their own ears.
What God had done for Moses, he intended to do for all the children of Israel. And God brought that day to pass. Eventually --- after the motivation of 10 terrible plagues, Pharaoh let the Hebrew slaves go to worship their God. Before that day of worship came, God revealed his heart. He told Moses, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel; ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” Exodus 19:3-6