Summary: God wants His people to live a unique life that sets them apart from the surrounding culture
One of the common objections that we hear as Christians is that we claim to take the Bible literally yet we follow some of the rules in the Bible meticulously while we seem to ignore others. The challenge might sound something like this: “You are quick to quote the Bible when it comes to certain sexual behaviors, but what about the commands about not eating shellfish or pork, or the ones about not wearing clothing made from two different kinds of fabric? Looks to me like your clothes are a blend of polyester and cotton and didn’t I just see you chowing down on a slab of baby back pork ribs?
I think that most of us have a hard time answering those objections and so deep down inside we pray that the questions will never come up. And my experience has shown me that that many of us also struggle with that apparent contradiction personally, too. We often wonder whether some of the Old Testament commands have any relevance at all in our lives and if they do, how we are supposed to apply them. My goal this morning is to help all of us be able to deal with those objections more effectively, both in our own life lives in our interactions with others and to develop some practical guidelines to help us apply these strange commands in our daily lives.
So far in our journey through the Old Testament, we’ve been looking at significant events in the lives of significant Old Testament figures as our means of moving the story along. And we’ll return to that approach again in a couple of weeks. But today and next week, I’m going to take a different approach and look at two significant elements in the life of Israel that are established by God after the people have been delivered from slavery in Egypt. Today we’re going to look at the Law and next week, we’ll focus on the tabernacle.
As I found out at our Monday morning Bible study this week, probably like many of you, my understanding of the giving of the law has been more impacted by movies like this than by the Scriptures.
[Show scene from History of the World – Part 1]
I think we all know that’s not exactly how it went, but my guess is that most of us think that the giving of the law was a pretty simple, straightforward event. Moses goes up on the mountain, God gives him the law. He brings the tablets down from the mountain to find the people making a golden calf and he throws the tablets down in anger so he has to go back up the mountain to get a new set of tablets.
But did you realize that the account of that process begins in Exodus chapter 19 and doesn’t conclude until chapter 34. Don’t worry, I’m not going to read that entire section of Scripture this morning. So let me just give you the Reader’s Digest version of what occurs and then we’ll going to focus our attention on Exodus chapter 24. You’re certainly welcome to take out your Bibles and follow along as I relate the story.
In Exodus 19, the people of Israel come to Mt. Sinai, the very same place where Moses had earlier met God in the burning bush. God tells Moses that if the people will obey His voice and keep His covenant, they will be His reassured possession. And the people all respond and promise to do what God has spoken. After three days of preparation, God comes down on Mt. Sinai in a way that all the people could see His presence there.
Then God called Moses to come up the mountain alone. There He gave Moses the Ten Commandments as well as a number of other detailed laws about things like altars, slaves, restitution, the Sabbath and Feasts, and about life within the community. God also repeats the promise that He had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to bring His people into the Promised Land.
That brings us to chapter 24.
[Read Exodus 24:1-2]
God invites Moses, Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel to come before Him to worship. But only Moses could come near to God. Moses now leads the people in worship.
[Read Exodus 24:3-8]
Moses begins the worship service by orally reciting the commandments that God had given to him. And as soon as he is finished, the people respond and promise to do all that God had spoken. Just as an aside, this reaffirms the model of Biblical worship that we often talk about. Worship is a matter of revelation and response. Moses shares God’s revelation of the law and the people respond by promising to obey it.