In this concluding sermon to the series through Exodus, we are privileged to be brought again to the subject of God’s manifest glory and his people’s right response. In Moses, we see a picture of Christ our future mediator, and we are reminded that being His people means being in the world, but not of this world.
In these chapters, we have the people stepping forward to complete all of the articles for the tabernacle according to the plans revealed to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai. As we reflect on its construction, we see six different lessons emphasized that speak to us of God’s character, our place as His people, and the manner in which He is to be worshiped.
Israel is finally to the point of beginning construction on God’s Tabernacle. Through their deliverance from Egypt, the people had come to know YAHWEH as a ‘Giving’ God. Through their sin with the golden calf, they had come to know YAHWEH as a ‘Forgiving’ God. Now was their opportunity to have their perspective of God shape their perspective of obedience and giving to the construction of God’s dwelling place. How does your perspective of God shape your perspective of giving?
Upon descending from his second 40 day stint on Mt. Sinai, Moses is aglow with the glory of God. The manner in which he reflects the splendor of YAHWEH serves to reaffirm Moses’ leadership of Israel and God’s presence among His people. But if we turn to the New Testament, to 2 Corinthians 3, we receive Paul’s interpretation of this text in all of its Christological significance.
As God renews His covenant with Israel, He repeats many of the moral and ceremonial laws that He gave to His people earlier in the Exodus account. This repetition served the purpose of reminding the people of His holy requirements after they had sinned so grievously with the golden calf. The principles reflected in this exchange serve to remind us of how seriously God takes our worship of Him, our identity in Him, and our service to Him.
If we were to gather together to compose a list of our favorite attributes of God, I doubt “Jealousy” would make our top 20. Yet this is one of the attributes of His character made explicit in the decalogue (Exod 20:5) and repeated throughout Scripture. In this text, God says His “Name is Jealous,” so here we explore the significance of this attribute and its ramifications for us as believers in Christ.
Within Scripture, we have many instances of God speaking directly to men to reveal Himself and His will. But here in Exod 34, we have God’s own definition of Himself. In verses 6 and 7 of this text, God Himself proclaims 7 attributes of His divine being in answer to Moses’ request to behold His glory. From this, we learn that encountering God’s glory is not so much about what we ‘see’ as much as it is about how we know Him and reverence Him and love Him.
When Charles Spurgeon preached this text, he called it the single greatest petition that man ever asked of God. In this simple, yet profound request, Moses teaches us that knowing God creates greater appetites that only more of God can satisfy. In this sermon, we examine the nature of Moses’ petition, our problem with this petition, and God’s ultimate fulfillment of this petition.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was purportedly asked if God was on his side. “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side,” said Lincoln, “my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Similarly, we always want God to be with us, but what does it mean for us to be with God? In this text in Exodus 33, we are brought into a conversation between God and Moses wherein we see a picture of what it means to be “with” God and desire him above all else.
As we begin chapter 33 of Exodus, we find ourselves still in the aftermath of Israel’s sin with the golden calf. God affirms that He will continue to be faithful to the promises he made in the covenant with Israel’s patriarchs, but He also tells Israel that He will not be going up with them in their midst. For now, He will be outside the camp. This narrative leads to some challenging questions for God’s people today, the greatest of which is “Have we become comfortable being distant from God?”