Sermon on Exodus 24:3-11
Text: 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.” 4 Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.
He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”
8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.
There are various vows that we make during our lifetime. For example, when we are confirmed, we vow that we will remain faithful to what we have been taught for the rest of our lives. When two people get married, they make vows to each other that they will stay together, no matter what happens, for the rest of their lives. In our text for this morning, the people of Israel made a vow. As modern-day believers, we make the same vow. WE WILL OBEY. 1. God Demands Perfection From Us. 2. Christ Provides Perfection For Us.
It had been two months since the people of Israel had left Egypt. They saw God’s mighty power time and again during this time. They witnessed the ten plagues that God had visited upon Egypt, which led to their freedom. Egypt’s mighty army, which had been pursuing them, had been drowned in the Red Sea. God provided food and water in the middle of the desert. In each of these actions, God’s love for them was also evident. Now, as they were encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, God spoke to them through Moses. He gave them the law that they were to observe.
Having descended from the mountain, Moses recited for them everything that the Lord had told him. He wrote down each and every one of the commands that God had given. There was no question about what God expected from them. It was right there in black and white.
How did the people respond to what was spoken to them and written down for them? Not once, but twice they vowed that they would obey. “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.’” (Verse 3) “(Moses) took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, ‘We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.’” There were no reservations about what they would do. There were no conditions on their part. When they saw what God had done for them, they pledged their complete obedience.
To be sure, the people of Israel meant every word that they said. They pledged to be faithful to God’s commands. However, we see how quickly they forgot these words. In a few chapters, we have the account of the Golden Calf. They made an idol and gave the credit for their deliverance to it. Later on, the food that they praised God for became a reason for complaint about how God wasn’t giving them what they wanted. They were tired of what God was providing. In spite of all of their fine words, in spite of their pledge to be obey God’s laws, they failed to live up to what they said they would do. As a result, God would have been perfectly justified in destroying the people there in the desert.
God has also made his will for our lives very clear to us. Though God may not speak to us from a mountain, he has seen to it that his laws were written down in his holy Word. There can be no debate about what God expects of us. There are no loopholes or points of debate. This is what God demands of each and every one of us. We make the same vow that the people of Israel made. We say, “We will obey.” When we think of all of God’s goodness that has been shown to us, we say that we will obey. Even a non-believer will say that they want to live in a moral way. We make this pledge with the greatest of intentions.
However, just like Israel, we have failed to keep this pledge. We may not bow down to a calf made of gold, giving it credit for where we are today. Yet, it is so easy for us to be filled with pride as to where we are today. It was our hard work and diligence that got us here. There are times when we follow the example of Israel and complain about what we have. We look at what others have and enjoy and we think that it is not fair that God has not blessed us in the same way. We get tired of the same thing all of the time and accuse God of holding out on us. In spite of our fine words, we do not come anywhere near the standard of perfection that God requires of us. Because of our sins, God would have been perfectly justified in destroying us forever in the fires of hell.
Because God is all-knowing, he knew that the people of Israel would quickly abandon their vow that they made to him. However, he did not reject their vows. Instead, he reached out to them and revealed himself to them in a very special way. “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.” (Verses 9-11) God allowed these 74 men, who were representing the nation of Israel to come into his presence. However, when they came into God’s presence, they did not see an angry God, who was there to punish them. Instead, it says, that God did not raise his hand against them. They had the privilege of feasting with God. Why did God treat them this way? Was it because they were holy? This cannot be the case, at all. Elsewhere, when Moses asked to see God, he was told, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) So, why, in this instance, were these men able to be in God’s presence and not be destroyed?
The reason is found in verses 5, 6, and 8. “(Moses) sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar . . . Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “‘This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.’” It was because of the blood that was shed in the sacrifices that were made and sprinkled on the people. This blood that was shed pointed ahead to the blood that would be shed by the One who came to make the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
It is for that same reason that you and I can enter into the presence of God and not be terrified. Jesus’ blood covers over the sins that we have committed. This was the price that was demanded for our sins. Jesus came to the earth to be the perfect sacrifice for us. His work of saving us began when he lived on this earth. His life was in perfect conformity to his Father’s will. He gave all credit and glory to his Father. He accepted what his Father sent to do, without complaint, even though it would mean suffering and death. The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross makes it possible for us to enter God’s presence, because our sins have been forgiven. We will live in God’s presence for all eternity in the glories of heaven. Just as the Israelite leaders ate and drank in God’s presence, we will forever enjoy the wedding feast of the Lamb of God for all eternity.
As we think of feasting with our God, we also think about the feast that we are invited to every time we receive the Lord’s Supper. There Jesus comes to us and offers the most miraculous of fares. As we receive the bread and wine, we are also receiving Christ’s very body and blood. By means of this feast, we receive the personal assurance from Jesus that the forgiveness that he won on the cross is ours. Jesus comes to us in this wondrous meal and tells each one of us individually that our sins are forgiven. Jesus says, ‘Rest assured, dear child, that you are right with my Father. He is not angry with you. You are his.’ What a wonderful meal that we receive in his presence.
This sacred meal does something else for us. It strengthens our faith. It reminds us of what God has done for us and how much he loves us. In this meal, we find motivation to obey God’s commands. We do not do so out of fear, but out of love. Now, when we hear God’s law, we do not see something that we must do, out of obligation. Rather, we see these laws as our opportunities to thank God for all that he has done for us. Since God has loved me so much, I want to live for him. It is the new man in us that looks at these laws and says, “I will obey.” To be sure, we will not always do this perfectly. We will still stumble and fall. Yet, we come to God in repentance and, having been assured that our sins are forgiven, we go forward with the intent to live for him. May God continue to strengthen our resolve to obey him.
Vows are serious things. In confirmation, you are standing before God and making the promise that you will be faithful to him and what he has taught us. In marriage, Christians stand before God as a witness that they are going to carry out their duties to their spouse. This morning, we want to recommit to our vow to serve the Lord. We know the high standard that he has in this regard. We thank him that, though we have not always lived up to this standard, Jesus did. Having been reminded of what has been done for us, we recommit to him and say, “We will obey.” May God help us to this end. Amen.
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