Purity isn’t a matter of self-advancement or self-congratulation; it is the only available option before the mighty power of God. Today, the people of Israel consecrate themselves while God descends upon Mt. Sinai and speaks with the voice of thunder.
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Transcript[00:00:00] Clint Loveall: Hey everybody, welcome back. Thanks for being with us. We are in the 19th chapter Book of Exodus. A little bit of a longer passage today. Won’t read all of it, kind of tell you what’s happening. , the people are being consecrated. So, verse 10, the Lord says to Moses, go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow have them wash and prepare for the third day.
And on the third day, I will come down to Mount Sinai in the sight of them. And then God tells him to set limits to make sure nobody or even an animal touches the mountain. Or they would, they will not live. And when the trumpet sounds later, they may go up the mountain. So it says Moses went down and he consecrated the people and they washed their clothes.
And he said prepare for the third day. Do not go near a woman. In other words, abstain, be pure. And then verse 16. The morning of the third day, their thunder, lightning, thick cloud blast of trumpet that the people in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet. God took their stand at the foot of the mountain, which was wrapped in smoke.
The whole mountain shook violently in a blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Moses would speak to God and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai to the top, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the. Then it says here, late in the chapter, verse 22, the priest who approached the Lord must consecrate themselves so the Lord will break out against them.
Moses said to the Lord, the people are not permitted to come up for you. Yourself warned us saying set limits around the Lord said to him, go down and come up bringing Aaron with you, but do not let either the priests or the people break through and come up other. He will break out against them. So Moses went down to the people and told, Kind of a, an extended scene today, but there is this moment where now that the people are out of Egypt, they’ve traveled to Mount Sinai and God is going to kind of have this moment where they begin, the people have cleansed themselves, they present themselves before God in the, in technical jargon.
Theological jargon. This is called a Theo. When God makes an appearance, and in the Old Testament when that happens, this is pretty characteristic. There’s earthquake, there’s fire, there’s smoke. There’s these dramatic signs that God is present. It’s not exactly clear. You know, Michael, yesterday we saw that.
God told Moses he was going to kind of elevate him in front of the people. Maybe that’s part of what’s happening here. Also, I think the Old Testament has these kind of scenes as a really good way of reminding us that God is other than we are, that God is separate. That God is holy, that God is fearsome, not in a, not in a way that God can’t be trusted, but in a way that when we see the glory of God, it.
A, a fearful thing. We are reminded of God being God, of us being us. And I think that’s part of what we[00:03:07] Michael Gewecke: see here. Yeah, so some of this is a recognition of God’s greatness. You have, Mount Sinai is covered by the greatness of God. Literally you can’t see it because of the clouds that surround it. God speaks in this idea of thunder.
I, this is one of the few times actually, Clint, where the scriptures all in the narrative in some ways. Go even beyond the biggest Hollywood interpretation. You know, you’ve got those tellings of Noah, or you’ve got the tellings of Moses or whatever the famous old movie is, and you have that booming voice here you see in the scripture.
Something of that great effect, God appearing, and that greatness overwhelming, even the mountain in front of the people the people themselves trembling in the presence of God. So I think there is lofty presentation of God happening here. That does not actually happen as often in the scriptures as sometimes the media play gives it.
But then I also think, to your point, this does come back to how we understand these people. They are being concentrated because God has a plan. For the nation, for all of them. And so in some ways, God has higher expectations for these people than he has for other nations in the world. Even though God has created all, God has chosen these, and the specific regulation, the specific purity laws that are just teased at here.
And we’re gonna see, you know, fleshed out in spades in coming chapters. Ultimately in coming books, you know, those then are presented here as a way that God has claimed and identified these people that as part of their identification as the chosen nation, they will then behave themselves in a way that’s different than others.
And so we’re beginning to see some of that pattern being set and that. May sound to us to be abnormal or spectacular, but I think it’s worth noting that the new Testa. We’ll pick up themes like this. In books like First Peter, you actually have references to being a holy priesthood, a royal nation.
There’s this idea that is repeated even within the Christian context, that God calls a people, and then in that calling, there’s a necessity for purifying, for cleansing, for making holy. And it’s certainly a theme that’s gonna be picked up later, but we see it in spades here.[00:05:43] Clint Loveall: Yeah. I think, you know, this is a solemn moment.
And again these passages I think are helpful to us, Michael, in that they help us with by showing us a people. who can get familiar with the idea of faith, they can get comfortable with the idea of God. And when God shows up, it always destroys that kind of. Comfort, the idea that God could be treated casually, that God could be some kind of, you know, a big fuzzy friend who’s on our team.
That always goes away immediately when God makes an appearance. And so here we, God is not trying to scare the people, but the natural reaction of a human to the holy is. Of awe, of reverence and even of fear. And I think, you know, those are good moments. I shared this in bible study men’s Bible study last week.
There’s that great scene in CS Lewis’s the Lion, which in the wardrobe where the beaver is telling Lucy about Aslan the lion, who is the Christ figure. And she says, A lion is he. And the beaver says, no, he’s not safe. He’s a lion, but he’s good. And that I think is the idea here, that the people are being slowly shown the glory of God.
That. That God doesn’t work for them. God has embraced them. God has chosen them, and God will be their God. But that’s going to have significant implications for them as well. It shouldn’t be missed that the very next place we go in the Book of Exodus is the 10 Commandments. We’re on the verge of God, giving them the law, the expectations of how they’re to live.
And that’s, Casual stuff, and I think this text helps us[00:07:36] Michael Gewecke: see that. You know, there are times when Clint and I will have a conversation with someone, or someone will in some way reach out, you know, comments or email or whatever, and they’ll make a comment about a thing in the scripture that doesn’t add up.
You know, how does this fit? And things like that. And maybe it’s worth just noting, you know, that’s really not surprising to anyone in the Christian family. One of those appears here today, actually, Clint, in verse 22 even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves. The Lord will break out against them, which is interesting because the priesthood hasn’t been introduced yet.
Not in the full sense of what it will be. We’ve had some sort of setting the foundation for it. If you say you know, we have Aaron named, and that’s, and we know that he’s important, but the rules setting out the priesthood are not yet completely. Done. And that’s only odd if you enter into this text thinking that it is a play by play historical account and that it doesn’t have the historians themselves beginning to interpret looking at what the practice of worship in Israel looks like and seeing that even referenced in this moment that even in the moment where God comes and consecrates a whole people that the same thing.
It is going to be even more so for those who are the priests. And we know that later on the priests are gonna have an extensive set of codes and rules as to what it means for them to be consecrated for their specific task on behalf of the people. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s one of those things I think that you can learn something about if you’re willing to see, hey, in the flow of the narrative, we might not expect this unless we understand some of the other things happening at the same.[00:09:25] Clint Loveall: Yeah, and you know, I think. You see that here in this verse. Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves. In other words, there’s no status simply by one’s label. To be consecrated, to be clean before God is a matter of one’s practice, one’s life, one’s choices. And simply bearing the title priest does not make them worthy to stand before God, nor does it make standing before God any less.
Serious, any less even risky perhaps in this context of this story. So, the other last thing I would say about this story, Michael, is just, it really highlights, I mean, literally highlights that role of Moses. We’ve talked about it before, but here Moses is literally ascending and descending. He ascends to the presence of God, and then he descends to the people who are afraid and.
Struggling in at some points. Certainly that will be the case later on in the story, but Moses, we see him make his spiritual. Journey of being a mediator physically by going up and down the mountain. And I think, you know, we just wanna highlight those places where Moses’ role in the story is particularly interesting.[00:10:39] Michael Gewecke: There is a lot of movement in this text. Up, down, up, down there is this idea of God being shrouded. He’s not seen. Because the idea is that if God is seen, then the people will die. That’s a theme that is certainly gonna happen later, and it’s gonna happen again in the scriptures. You know, Clint, I think that we, in a democratic society, in a place where flatness you know, is in some ways never been more histor.
The case than it is right now. We may struggle a little bit to understand the up downness of this narrative. The fact that God is above God is great. There’s no similarity between even Moses and God. There’s no, you know, small margin between the one who has called the people. and the people themselves.
This, I think, fights against our sensibilities, if I’m gonna be honest with you. I think that it makes us uncomfortable, but if we’re willing to lean into that for just a moment, there is great value to recognize that even at God is, Above God. God is greater than God is also the one who is faithful. So in that equation between the people of Israel making promises that just happened in yesterday’s study, jump back and listen to that.
If you weren’t with us, all of the people make these promises. We’re gonna be faithful to God. And then, you know, here, In this very clear demarcation between the one who is above and the one who is below the hope and the promise of this text, Clint, is that the one who is above is the one who will ultimately be faithful.
The one with all the strength and all the power, the one who is clearly at the top of the mountain, that is the one who will show up and will continue to lead the people. And so, It may make us uncomfortable and it’s worth slowing down and admitting that if it’s the case. On the flip side, I think there’s grace in it.
I think there’s even good news in it because the one who, quite frankly, the character who needs to be faithful is the one with all the power in the story, and that is unto itself good news for the people.[00:12:52] Clint Loveall: Yeah, it, I. Because our experience is to talk about God spiritually. I think these texts were, God’s presence is manifested physically.
You know, there’s smoke, there’s noise, there’s sight there’s things happening. There’s lightning and tremors that we’re kind of reminded that those. Monumental moments and so that the people are being shown in that something of the character of God. And again, I think it’s good for the Old Testament particularly, but there’s a lot of this written into the New Testament.
You think of a book like Revelation that’s full of this kind of imagery and this kind of language. I think those are, it’s good for us to be reminded that. Our faith and our God is not something to be taken for granted taken lightly or taken casually. So, the, these moments matter in the story and we’ll see more of them.
We’ll get a chance to have some of this conversation again down the[00:13:49] Michael Gewecke: road. Thanks for being with us here on this Tuesday, literally on the doorstep of the commandments, and a lot more to come. So hope that you’ll join us as we continue on with this study. That’s enough for today. Thanks for being with us.