In the Lord of the Rings, Sam asks, “I wonder what kind of story we are in, Mr Frodo?” Everyone wants to know the answer to this. The book of Exodus shows us. We are in THE story, the grand-redemptive story, the true story of the whole world. We look back at Exodus and see the good news, and Exodus points ahead to Christ, and to the end (which is only the beginning). We began our study and said that we were going to see the gospel, and how the story of Exodus, in a sense, is our story. Once we were in bondage to sin, enslaved, under the sentence of death. But by taking shelter under the blood of the Lamb, God has delivered us. Now, God is with us, leading us to the Promised Land. We will face challenges, obstacles and temptations, but we know that God is faithful to his redeemed people. While we journey, we live by grace and forgiveness found not in a tabernacle – but in Christ. One day, we will see Jesus Christ – and there we will behold the glory of God forever. Everyone who trusts in Christ has this hope. Now, let’s move forward in this faith journey.
Israel’s worship of the golden calf idol is what we are looking at today. Perhaps you think, “I don’t struggle with worshiping a cow; I like to eat them too much, but i don’t struggle worshiping them.” Maybe not a cow. But remember this story has everything to do with you because it’s not ultimately about a calf; it’s about the human heart. Stephen says, “in their hearts they turned to Egypt.” Apart from the grace of God, we would be worshiping something or someone other than God. It may be your body, a sport, money, or whatever. But we are all worshipers. John Calvin is often quoted as saying, “The human heart is a perpetual factory of idols…. Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, an expert in inventing idols.” An idol is anything you seek to give you what only Christ can give you is an idol. (joy, security, peace, meaning, significance, identity, salvation). The idol is the sin beneath the sin. This whole chapter points us to one great reality: we need a perfect substitute. We have one who would come from this very people. He would ascend to the cross, and bear the punishment that we idolaters deserve. He took the punishment in place of us, in order for our sins to be covered. Jesus would say, “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” Because of Christ, our names can be written in the book of life!
Many important parts of the faith begin here in the OT, and introduce categories, which are later filled up with more meaning in the NT. Today, these categories involve the priesthood, the Spirit, and the Sabbath. This theme of work and rest teaches us about the gospel. Here we learn about our Great High Priest who works on our behalf, the Holy Spirit who works in us to do God’s work, and a holy rest that we need.
Here in this passage we will see a God, a Father, who is gracious in Dwelling with His people! His Presence is among them and that should reaffirm that they are His people and they should be about His Mission. This Text is all about God being present with His people, but how can a holy God dwell in midst of sinful people? How can sinful man enter the Holy Place? The Tabernacle shows us the furniture, process, and people which can bring sinner & holy one together (mercy seat, altar, priests, sacrifice, etc), but ultimately these are pointing us to Christ!
This is one of the most powerful, meaningful and memorable passages in the entire Bible. Take note of who the main character is…who the hero of the story is. This passage is primarily about God…His victory, His commands, His law, His blessing, His covenant, and His glory. It is God who delivers victory. It is God who should be obeyed. It is God who provides the blessing. It is God who makes and seals the covenant. And it is God who is holy and just and merciful and should be worshipped forever. It is God who rescues and redeems us. And it is God whom we should follow and worship, trust and obey.
In the sermon on the Ten Commandments, we finished by saying that the law drives us to Jesus, and Jesus enables us to keep the law. If these laws demonstrate ways in which Israel was to live out the Decalogue, then we are left with that great application again. We can’t keep God’s law. But there is one who lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death we should have died. Jesus obeyed for us, and died in place of law-breakers.
We need power. We need to speak the good news. We need shared ministry. May God help become a healthy community of faith. We like Jethro and Moses and the elders, gather around one table. We also we rally around the cross, or banner, and we enjoy fellowship with one another because of the work of our great mediator, Jesus Christ. And one day we will rule and rein with our Christ. If you are not part of the community of faith, we would love to call you brother or sister. We urge you to consider what God has done to make this possible, through his cross-work.
Like Israel, we too are sojourners, who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, who have crossed over to the other side by grace, and are now on the way to Promised Land. In this faith journey, in our wilderness, God is sanctifying us, and teaching us to trust him, love him and follow him. So the big idea today is that we need to learn some things from Israel’s Wilderness experience, since (once again) their story is our story.
Exodus is a book that magnifies the greatness of God. We see that there is none like him! He is God (Big “G!”), and there are no other gods. In this section of Scripture, the greatness of God is on display in majestic and merciful ways.
There are all kinds of stories that define us, give us meaning, give us purpose… but ultimately we unless it is this greater Passover/EXODUS…. The Gospel, we will spend our lives always trying to find something to fill what only that can fill and we will be left empty.