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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

September 20, 2017

Exodus  19:16-20-7

  1. Verses 16-19. In the desert, God teaches the people everything about him as if they were newborn infants in the faith. The Israelites had been in bondage so long, that they were weak in faith and knowledge of God. God helps the people get to know him. They had seen his deliverance through Moses, now it is time for them to see His glory and develop a sense of awe towards the Almighty. With Thunder and lightning and a thick cloud, God demonstrated His power and glory to the people. Beyond all one could see, hear, and feel, then came a long, loud blast of a trumpet coming from heaven itself. With the sights and the sounds the people who were in the camp trembled. Then, Moses led the people right up to the barrier at the very foot of Mount Sinai, where they could see, smell, hear and virtually taste the fire which engulfed the mountain - as well as feel the earth shake under their feet when the whole mountain quaked greatly. In the midst of all this, the sound of the trumpet blast became longer and louder and longer and louder until Moses spoke to God - perhaps asking Him to stop.

  2. Verse 20. God came in a special presence to Mount Sinai, ready to meet with Moses as a representative of the whole nation of Israel. As the people trembled in terror at the foot of the mountain, Moses needed courage to go to the top and meet with God. But Moses knew God not only in terms of this awesome power, but also in terms of His gracious kindness.

  3. Verses 21-25. As Moses went up, God spoke to Moses and told him to tell the people to keep their distance or they would perish. God told Moses to set limits, but now, God tells him to warn the people again. God knows that these people tend to disobey commands. How often are we told to not trespass or cross the line on some things? Moses tells the Lord that he set limits on the people already, but God tells him to tell the people again not to come up.

  4. Chapter 20:1. While Moses is speaking to the people, God begins to speak in a most glorious fashion. God declares that He is the God that brought them out of slavery. God is saying that the people belong to Him since he has brought them out of slavery. The people are now his property. Ancient law would demand that a person’s life belonged to the person who saved them. These first few words of chapter 20 speak to this idea. The ancient people would have quickly caught on to this point. We belong to God because he saved us from bondage. This is the same perspective we must have now. We belong to God. We have been saved, purchased, redeemed, for him.

  5. The next ten commands are not all the commands that God will give, but they are very important because God list them first. We have the benefit of having the law interpreted by Christ to understand that the law is summarized in two parts, Love God and love your neighbor. The first few commands given are all about loving God.

  6. Verse 3. The best way to love God is to place God in a position as the only one we worship. We can have no other gods, but the Living God. With these words, God is commanding an exclusive relationship between Himself and His people. The command instructs Israel that God will not allow His people to have any gods in addition to Himself. They had to get rid of any gods they had incorporated into their lives over the years. It was also a reminder in times of crisis to not try another god. It was not unusual for ancient people to have many gods for many areas of their lives. People would try to cover their bases and have a god for every area of their life. God wanted his people to know that they didn’t need many fake gods, they needed only the one Living God. God deserves to be worshipped as the only true God. God is sovereign and supreme and He must be worshipped as such. To love God is to worship God as the one and only God.

  7. Verses 4-6. The first and second commandments are similar in that both deal with the matter of Israel’s worship. This is how we love God. They are distinct in that the first commandment has restrictions pertaining to the object of worship (God alone), while the second has restrictions regarding the means of worship. The second commandment prohibits worship by means of “visual aids,” more commonly known as idols. The issue with idols is that they can never fully depict the almighty God. There is nothing that man can make that can capture the glory of God. An idol is a symbolic representation of a god, as determined by man and man’s ideas.

    1. Humanity is too limited to manufacture an image of God. An idol is contrary to the nature of God. God is invisible. He revealed Himself to the Israelites without any form (Deuteronomy 4:12-19). Therefore, physical forms are inconsistent with the nature of God, and cannot be used to represent Him.

    2. Idols are also demeaning to God, since there is no created thing which can do justice to the perfections of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

    3. Third, idols are contrary to the nature of faith. In the Bible, faith is belief in that which is not seen: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

    4. Fourth, idols are contrary to God’s goal for worship, which is to worship Him in spirit and truth. In His conversation with the “woman at the well” Jesus gently focused her attention away from special places of worshiping to the person whom all must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:20-24, esp. v.24). God deliberately forbade the use of imperfect representations of Himself, having purposed ultimately to reveal Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal of history, I believe, is that all men will fall in worship before the Son (cf. Philippians 2:9-11).

  8. Verse 7. If the first commandment dealt with the object of our worship and the second the means of our worship, the third commandment deals with our verbal worship of God. In order to determine the meaning of this commandment we must first understand the meaning of two things: first, the concept of the “name of the Lord,” and second, the meaning of the term “vain.” His name includes: (1) his nature, being, and very person (Ps. 20:1; Luke 24:47; John 1:12; cf. Rev. 3:4), (2) his teaching and doctrines (Ps. 22:22; John 17:6, 26), and (3) his ethical directions and morals (Mic. 4:5). The ‘vain’ or ‘empty purposes’ to which God’s name may be put are: (1) to confirm something that is false and untrue, (2) to fill in the gaps in our speeches or prayers, (3) to express mild surprise and (4) to use that name when no clear goal, purpose, or reason for its use is in mind, whether it be in prayer, in a religious context, or absent- mindedly invoked as table grace when no real heart, thankfulness, or purpose is involved. The use of the name YAHWEH or YHWH was rarely spoken to not take it in vain. The name of God was too holy to just use all willy-nilly. His name had to be respected and revered above all names.

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