Summary: Explaining the reason that God gives us the law
Prison or Provision
(May 14th, 2017)
Scripture- Exodus 19:3-6
US Army Smart Book
Every few weeks, a new bus load of fresh teenagers roll into one of the Army’s basic training sites. The come from all over the northern hemisphere- from all states, all territories, all cultures that exist within our country.
Some are urban and have never seen a farm or a cow up close. Some are rural, and have never ridden a mass transit system, train or subway.
It’s a very diverse group, different ethnic, economic, and family backgrounds. Every person who comes has different ideas, different experiences, different ways of thinking and doing things.
The Army has a huge job to do in the next 10 weeks- to take all of those differences and eliminate them all until the end product is a United States Soldier. One of the ways that they do this is issuing a 500+ page small square book called your “Smart Book”. It contains everything you need to know to become a soldier, and every task you will be required to complete during your basic training.
They push you to have this book read and memorized in the ten weeks you are there. It is to be in your left thigh pocket at all times. Everytime you stand in line, or come to a stop for any length of time, you are to have your nose in your smart book memorizing it’s contents. Drill Sergeants are relentless in asking questions contained in your smart book, so you better know what it says or you will be on your face doing pushups until your arms fall off.
Why did they put such an emphasis on this?
The army needs to take each individual and get all of the differences that they brought with them from their old life gone- and sweep all of that away in the intensity of basic training, until all that was left was a highly motivated and disciplined soldier ready to perform the mission of the US Army.
In Exodus 19 Israel is in the same situation.
They just walked a few hundred miles through a desert, straight from being slaves in Egypt. Even though they had this in common, their personal experiences as slaves were very different. Some had it better than others.
You had household slaves, who didn’t know the harshness of the fields or the construction camps. For slaves, they had it fairly easy, and were probably the ones who complained the loudest whenever something went wrong in the desert.
You had taskmasters- Hebrews that worked for the Egyptians in making sure the other Israelites maintained their workload. Again, for slaves they had it pretty easy.
You had the artisans- those who painted, or worked with silver and gold to create the decorations for Pharaoh’s buildings.
You had the farmhands- slaves that worked the fields and shepherded cattle. A harder job to be sure, but not as bad as our last group.
You had the common labors. This is the picture most of us have in our minds when we think of slavery- They WERE the oppressed- they felt the whips, the heat of the day, and faced extreme danger in some instances moving large blocks of stone around. This was long before OSHA was around, and workplace deaths were common. They were the ones that appreciated their freedom the most.
Now take all of these perspectives and history-
People who had it relatively easy-
Ones who had positions of power-
Ones who got to use their gifting’s in make objects of extreme beauty
People who worked the fields or shepherded animals.
And…those who suffered the most and put them all into community together and send them marching out into the desert…what are you going get?
Chaos- infighting, complaining, confusion. They are in desperate need of something to bring them a sense of order and security.
God brings them to Mt Sinai because they need some basic training, and they need to be issued a little smart book so they understand who they are serving, How they are supposed to act, and what they are supposed to do with this new freedom.
Let’s look at what God has to say about why He has rescued them from Slavery in Egypt, and brought them to this desolate mountain in the middle of one of the largest deserts in the area.
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”