Exodus is a story of God’s presence with and among his people, climaxing finally in his glory filling the place where people meet with God. Authentic worship is the product of human readiness and God’s presence. God’s presence in the tabernacle foreshadows the time when he will dwell among people in human form in his Son, and in them by his Spirit.
A reasonable working definition of idolatry might be: “Being satisfied with anything as a substitute for God.” Idolatry is alluring because it promises immediate satisfaction, offers an illusion of being in control, and makes wrong feel right. What might your idol/s or potential idol/s be?
Israel has encountered God in his holiness, power and grace (Exodus 19). God has given Israel laws to live by — first the ten commandments (chapter 20) as the foundation, then three chapters of practical examples of what keeping this law might mean in practice. Now the Covenant must be confirmed in a sacred ceremony. The ceremony includes the sprinkling of sacrificial blood and the extraordinary privilege of a meal with God. All foreshadowing yet again another sacred meal by which followers of Jesus will commune forever with him.
God gives his law where his people are vulnerable to sin. The purpose of the foundational ten commandments, and of all the laws built upon them, and of all the ensuing commands in all of Scripture, is the protection of God’s sovereignty and of the covenant community formed by him and for him.
The religious leaders charged Jesus with keeping bad company. He responded with the same story told three times in three ways. The message: Lost people matter to God.
The giving of God’s Law to Israel, beginning with the ten commandments in Exodus 20, did not and could not happen in a vacuum. It required first that the people meet with God. God reveals himself in power as both holy and gracious.
God uses deserts to test and refine the people he loves. The Son of God named Israel largely failed the 40-year test in the desert. The true Son of God and true Israel named Jesus was also tested in the desert (for 40 days) and remained faithful and obedient to his Father. Will the people God loves today be like the first Israel, or like the true Israel? How are you travelling in the desert?
Exodus 15 is a psalm which gives voice to Israel’s praise of God’s salvation, wrought in the crossing of the Red Sea and the defeat of Pharaoh’s army. As God’s saved people, the people of Israel were given reason for worship and reason for witness. The greater salvation of Good Friday and Easter gives Christians the same causes, that the world may know.
God specialises in people at the bottom of life’s heap. Through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, God provides a way out of hopelessness and despair. Jesus was thrown out on the rubbish heap as worthless, but the third day demonstrated that he was and is in fact the key to all of history. For a life filled with hope and the promise of glory, you need only come to him.
The Good Friday story with its images of horror reminds us powerfully of two Gospel truths: The spectre of sin, and the extravagance of love. Both are seen in the Cross, and both expressed in this passage from Rom 5 …