Have you ever wondered what life would have been like in “Biblical times”? There are the obvious lack of conveniences that we have today like running water, toilets, electricity, internet, readily available food, etc. I read chapters like these following, and remember that there was no Bible (the instruction manual for how to live), or Jesus Christ (the Messiah and Savior of our sins), or Holy Spirit (to guide and pray for us). Yes, the Trinity was around, but their purposes were not yet revealed in full.
This was pre-cross and getting close to God or being invited into his presence was for a select few. Those that tried, unworthily, died. Can you imagine not being able to enter into God’s presence freely like we can today? Where would we be without the guidance of the Bible and the Holy Spirit? I rely on those so much! Can you even fathom what having to sacrifice animals to redeem us from our sins would be like in this society?
“By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:20-23
Praise God, that he made a way for us to be in his presence eternally!
S – Scripture: Exodus 19-21
- 19:4-6 – “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
- 19:18-20 – “All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply. The LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain.”
- 19:21-23 – “Then the LORD told Moses, ‘Go back down and warn the people not to break through the boundaries to see the LORD, or they will die. Even the priests who regularly come near to the LORD must purify themselves so that the LORD does not break out and destroy them.’ ‘But LORD,’ Moses protested, ‘the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai. You already warned us. You told me, ‘Mark off a boundary all around the mountain to set it apart as holy.'”
- 20:1-5 – “Then God gave the people all these instructions: ‘I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”
- 20:24-25 – “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me–your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.
O – Observation:
- God declares that he is building a holy nation, a people that, if they commit their lives to him, he will continue to carry them. They will be his treasure.
- What an amazing sight that must have been to see God coming down from heaven in a blaze of fire, causing a mighty mountain to tremble. Then to hear his powerful voice and watch you leader ascend to speak with God one-on-one.
- Moses entered the smoke-filled mountain. He climbed to meet his God and hear his commandments.
- No one else was able to go into the presence of the Lord or else they would die. There were boundaries in how much of God one could experience. I can’t imagine living without being able to visit God freely.
- The first commandment is given: no idols or alternate images to worship except for the Lord. God is a jealous God.
- The Ten Commandments are given to the Israelites to be observed. Other rules and regulations are sent out. God is establishing and setting apart his people. They are to act differently than the rest of the world.
- God calls for his alter to be built on uncut and unchanged stone. If that is done, the stones become unfit for holy use.
A – Application –
When I sin, there is a root cause of that. Unexpressed or sometimes unknown desires, good and bad, can manifest themselves in strange ways. If the desire makes us desperate enough, we will allow ourselves to act in sinful ways to get them. We may even take steps that aren’t necessarily bad, but our motives are off or we rely on our strength and power to get them. Our focus is no longer on God, but on satisfying that particular need that seems of greater importance.
God did this miraculous thing by destroying Egypt and bringing out the Israelites, declaring them as his own, chosen people. He showed his power to the world through the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and turning bitter water into sweet water. God provided manna for them to eat and guided them with a cloud and fire. They were never in need and he was always with them.
He should’ve been enough for them. He should be enough for us when we think of all of the things he has done for us. But often, (and I’ll only speak for myself), I lose sight of that and only focus on what he hasn’t done for me.
God starts by giving the Ten Commandments. I wanted to look at these in a new light. This is what God gave me:
When I sin, the root cause comes back to the fact that I believe that God isn’t enough for me in some way or some timeframe. Why can’t I have what I want, when I want it, and in the quantity that I desire? How am I supposed to be content with just this? God, you must have this wrong. If you aren’t going to bless me with it now, I’ll figure out my own way of getting it.
Do you find that to be true in your life?
Looking at why I did a particular sin through this lens, can help me understand what dispute I have with the character of God. From there, I can seek out scripture, advice, and ask God to reveal himself to me and change my heart or attitude.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” James 1:5-8
The point is that I can bring myself closer to him and not push myself farther away and deeper into a lifestyle or attitude that I don’t want to be in. The consequences living the latter are far worse than the momentary discontent or delayed gratification in following God and his timeline. But I must choose God first. If I choose the ways of the world, I am not choosing God. And I’d rather have all that God has for me and in his time that what my worldly desires promise to offer.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
When I am seeking to follow his commands and guidelines for life, or living by the Spirit, I reap the Fruit of the Spirit instead:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25
That life sounds better, no matter the cost. I truly believe that God wasn’t establishing these commandments just for the sake of giving rules and putting chains on his people. He knew the hurt, guilt, shame, and separation from him that doing those things would cause. He desires for us to live a full, abundant, and free life. What he offers is different from the world, yes, and it usually takes time, effort, and sacrifice. But we have hope that the struggle, the delayed gratification, the wait, will produce in us something beautiful to bring glory to God and life to others. Our eternal hope is also worth mentioning here, as it is the whole point of accepting God’s gift of grace for our sin. Knowing this is what is coming at the end, motivates me to live a life that would please God.
God is enough, ALWAYS. He has saved and redeemed me from my sinful self and brought me new life through Jesus Christ. His love and grace have changed my heart and given me purpose. God has accepted me into his family and I am his for all eternity. The gifts of the Bible and the Holy Spirit guide through this challenging life. They allow me to come close to God and hear his voice.
He is so good.
P – Prayer:
God, I am so convicted right now. I have shown in many of my actions and words that you, and what you offer, is not good enough for me. I have chosen so many times to do and get things on my own. I’ve raced past you and your plan, only to find disappointment and sorrow. Worst of all, I’ve found that you are not there. It feels so lonely and distant. I hate it. Forgive me for those times that I have chosen to satisfy my worldly desires with sin.
I thank you so much for this insight. I thank you that you give so much grace, each time, to bring us back to you. When I think on all that you have done for me, I can’t help but trust you further and know that you are far more than enough for me. You are beyond what I can hope or imagine. It’s in that mindset that I fully trust your plans and timing over mine. I desire to seek you out more and take steps of faith more confidently because I know that you are with me.
God, you are so good, and you do good things. Amen.