Sermon on Exodus 24:12,15-18
Text: The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
There are a number of times when God allowed human beings to see a glimpse of his glory. One of them was mentioned in our Gospel lesson for this morning. After Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain, his appearance changed. Matthew describes it for us in this way, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:2) Those three disciples were allowed to see the glory that belonged to Jesus. As they were observing all of the sights on the top of that mountain, God the Father spoke to them. He said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5) God was allowing them to see his glory and he spoke to them. We have another mountain in our text, where God showed the people of Israel his glory. As the people saw his glory, he also spoke to them. Today, as we gather around God’s Word, we also have the opportunity to see God in his glory and listen to him, as well. THE LORD OF GLORY SPEAKS TO US. 1. He Gives Us Laws And Commands. 2. He Reveals The Glory Of His Grace.
Our text takes place at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Lord had led the people of Israel through the wilderness to this place. Here God wanted to enter into a special covenant with the people. He told them what they were to do. He promised to bless them, if they kept his commands. Just prior to our text, we read, “When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, ‘Everything the LORD has said we will do.’” (Exodus 24:3)
Now, the LORD called out to Moses and said, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.” (Verse 12) God was going to write down every one of the laws that he had given his people. This included every aspect of the way that they were to live their lives. God had laws for governing themselves. There were commands about the way that they were to worship him. Of particular note is the fact that God said, “I will give you the tablets of stone with the law.” On these two tablets of stone would be inscribed the Ten Commandments. God wanted his people to know exactly what he demanded of them.
God has also been clear with us about what he demands of us. While we do not have laws from him about the way that we are to govern ourselves or the way that we are to worship him, he does give us commands about the way that we are to live our lives. There can be no doubts about what God wants from us. The principles encapsulated in the Ten Commandments are found throughout his holy Word.
God tells us what the scene looked like when he came down to Mount Sinai. It says, “When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai.” (Verses 15&16) Anyone who has ever been to the mountains and watched as the clouds came across the mountains and enshrouded them knows what an ominous sight that can be.
As awesome a sight that must have been, the Israelites saw something else. “To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.” (Verse 17) When they looked at the top of the mountain, they saw a fire. This wasn’t some sort of fire that gave comfort, like a campfire that you sit around at night. What they saw was a fire that devoured everything in its path. This was symbolic of God’s hatred for sin, any breaking of his laws. It showed the people his anger against sin. When the people saw the fire, they quickly realized that God was serious about their keeping his commands.
It is good for us to see this sight, as well. Sometimes, when we read or hear God’s laws, we downplay the seriousness that God had when he gave them. We think that God really isn’t serious about our keeping them. We think of them as God’s suggestions for how to live our lives. We think of God as something akin to a grandfather, who gives some rules to his grandchildren. He makes the rules, but smiles when the grandchildren break them. He doesn’t enforce any of the rules that he makes. We may even tell ourselves that, since we are Christians, it really doesn’t matter how we live our lives. God is a loving God and he forgives whatever I do, so if I sin once or twice, it really doesn’t make a difference.
When we catch ourselves thinking that way, it is good for us to take a long look at that consuming fire on Mount Sinai. God doesn’t look the other way when sin happens. God hates sin. Listen to these other descriptions of God’s anger against sin. It says in Psalm 97:3, “Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.” God’s foes are anyone who rebels against him by sinning. Elsewhere, it says in Nahum 1:6, “Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure cialisfrance24.com his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.” We need these pictures to help us realize how God feels about sin, lest we become fooled into thinking that our sins are not serious. The picture of a consuming fire is also used to describe the torments of hell that we deserve because of our sins. For example, in the account of the rich man and poor Lazarus, the rich man spoke these words describing his condition in hell, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” (Luke 16:24) When the God of glory speaks his commands to us, we see that he is serious about keeping every one of them. As terrifying as the sight was for the Israelites, it terrifies us just as much, for we quickly realize that we have not kept his laws and justly deserve his punishment.
As Moses ascended Mount Sinai, he came to the edge of the cloud that had descended. He waited there for six days. He knew that he was not worthy to enter into the presence of the holy God. He realized that he was a sinful person. However, we see God’s grace, his undeserved love, in action. “On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud.” (Verse 16) God reached out to Moses and invited him into his presence. He was not going to treat him as his sins deserved. As further evidence of God’s grace, it says, “Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” (Verse 18) God allowed Moses to continue to be in his presence for forty days and forty nights. He was in direct communion with God. When the Lord of glory spoke specifically to Moses, he spoke words of invitation. He showed his grace to Moses.
So, also, the Lord of glory speaks to us with words of invitation. The reason that he does so is because of what happened on another mountain top, namely, Calvary. There we see the Lord of glory, but he doesn’t look glorious, at all. We see Jesus nailed to a cross. He is undergoing horrendous physical agony. More than that, he is going through an agony that none of us could ever imagine. He is suffering the full force of God’s anger against sin. He is feeling the consuming fire of God’s wrath. It is on this mountain that God’s justice and his grace are in full view. Rather than punishing you and me for our sins, God is punishing his Son. On that cross, he paid for every one of our sins. Now, because of this grace of God, he tenderly invites us to come into his presence. We do not have to fear his anger, for Jesus faced it for us. Now, he welcomes us. He wants us to be with him both for this life and the life to come.
Think of what this gracious invitation means to us. It means that we can go through this life with the knowledge that God loves us. He promises to be with us and to take care of us. When we go through difficult times on this earth, we do not have to think that God is getting even for us for something that we have done. God loves us and has assured us that everything that happens to us comes from his loving hand. Because of God’s gracious invitation to come to him, we know that we can come to him in prayer. We don’t have to be afraid that God won’t hear us because of a sin that we have committed. Instead, we are encouraged to come to him as dear children approach their dear father. We don’t have to worry that something that we ask for is too hard for him to do. The same God who makes the invitation to come to him in prayer is also the almighty God, who made heaven and earth. Moses had the privilege of being in God’s presence for forty days and forty nights. God’s graciously invites us to be with him for all eternity. We will see God in all of his glory and not be afraid. We will live in peace with him. We will see him face to face. How do we know that this is true? It is because the Lord of glory has said so. We rejoice because God has revealed his glory to us through his grace in action.
There are those people that we come into contact with who say that they are going to do something. Yet, when you listen to them, you are skeptical. This is because you know that they have said that they were going to do things before and they have never carried through. It may be that they never had the intention to do it. It may be that they had good intentions, but lacked the ability to do what they said they would do. This morning, as we have stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Lord of glory has spoken to us. The difference between him and the others that we have mentioned is that he will carry through on what he has said. He has told us his law and the fact that he demands that it be kept perfectly. He has told us that those who do not keep his laws will be consumed by the fire of his wrath. The Lord of glory has said that this is true and he will do it. However, the Lord of glory has also reminded us of his grace in sending his Son to take our place. He has told us that all of our sins have been taken away. In his grace, we receive the benefits of what Jesus has done for us. Furthermore, he graciously invites us to be with him for all eternity. The Lord of glory has said that this is true and that he will do it. We rejoice that the Lord of glory has spoken to us. May we continue to listen to him. Amen.
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