Exodus 24: God’s Love Letter

These chapters of Exodus can be seen as dry, boring, and irrelevant to our lives today. As we are bombarded with law after law, and as we struggle to dig up the concepts behind them, we wonder under what filter should we read these texts. I’m in the same boat you are. These chapters are tough to get through, but stay with me here.

3 So Moses went to the people and told them everything GOD had said—all the rules and regulations. They all answered in unison: “Everything GOD said, we’ll do.” –Exodus 24

Let that sink in…while you do, take a look at this verses as well:

“The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold… oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” –Psalm 119

The way we view the Law of the Lord in its entirety is seriously important. Are we seeing it as a checklist to heaven, or as a gift from God? A hill to climb, or a pathway to the fullness of Life? What we see, not only in Exodus but the entirety of the Bible, is that the Law, with relationship with God, under his grace, becomes absolutely beautiful. It becomes the path of life. A guide to how we can live to please the Lord. It becomes precious, and a primary way for people to unite.

But the Law outside of the grace of God, feels like a meaningless checklist that despite our best efforts we will never complete. It feels like death, an impossible, cruel, hill to climb. As Christians, the Law has been given to us for our joy. And let us indeed harness that joy knowing that we covered by the grace of God. This isn’t a checklist. This is a love letter from the Almighty. We will never fulfill the Law, and understanding that means the Law becomes precious because the Law becomes the path of life. Under the love & grace of the Lord, the law becomes not something we have to do, rather something we want to do because it is “more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”.

— Cole

Exodus 23: Reading The Fine Print

I’ll admit I wanted to skim over chapter 23. What could I learn from God’s instructions about how the Israelites should do life 3500 plus years ago?

In chapter 23 we find ourselves neck deep in the fine print of Yahweh’s covenant with the Israelites and we learn another characteristic of God. He is detail oriented.

Fine print is not easy to read, but it is important. It is in the fine print that the true nature of an agreement is revealed. God does not hide his “fine print”. He puts it in plain view and through it reveals His values.

Wanting to discoverer what God values I was able to read chapter 23 in a fresh way. As a Christ-follower I want my life to resemble the values of God more and more each day. As I read God’s instructions on justice, property, and festivals I found an opportunity for some self-reflection.

Does my life reflect the values I read? As I dove into this time of reflection I found things to celebrate in my life and things I need to change. I also found some things that require further reflection and input from other Christ-followers. Here’s a quick list of some of what jumped out to me as I read with a new appreciation for fine print.

God values honesty – Verses 1,6,7

God values conviction & integrity – Verses 2,3,6,8

God values giving & kindness – Verses 4,5,11

God values compassion & equality – Verses 3,6,8,9,11

God values rest – Verses 11,12

God values celebration & community – Verses 14-19

— Jordan

Application Questions

What God values are reflected well in your life and can be celebrated?

What God values need some attention?

On what God values could you use some input from other Christ-followers?

Exodus 22: God’s Passion For Us

People matter to God. Our worship is for God alone.

That pretty much sums up Exodus 22 – a selection of property laws, social laws and a few random laws thrown in as Israel begins to build a new society that would eventually become a nation. Some of these laws will never be applicable in the lifetime of these hearers (they will never own a house, a vineyard or grow crops in their lifetime). Others are practical and relevant immediately. Some of these laws are deterrents, to prove how highly God values his people, and others are entirely about our worship.

For example, there are three reasons for the death penalty in this chapter: sorcery, bestiality and sacrifice to other gods. All of these are cultic practices and are not to be tolerated in a society whose worship is to be in God alone. (I wonder how that resonated in a society that not so long ago were sacrificing to a god made of their own hands? Gulp. I should be dead!)

Other laws show God’s mercy; in a land where child sacrifice was standard practice for gods of the day, the God of Israel also expects a sacrifice of their firstborn… but not to death. Consecrated. Set apart. And alive.

In a society where women were property to be used and owned, God says if you have sex with a virgin, you will provide for her for the rest of her life… and show her honor by paying the bride price to her family. Not shamed. Honored. Provided for.

And each of these rules point to a God who loves his people passionately and longs for our worship in return.

— Kirsten K.

Application Questions

What rules do you struggle to see God’s heart for his people within?

How do you think these rules apply to lives of believers today?

Exodus 21: It’s My Choice To Make

In Chapter 21 Moses receives further instructions as to how the Israelites should live now that they have been freed from bondage and slavery.

“These are the laws you are to set before them”

The laws defining how they were to treat each other and resolve conflicts and how to deal with situations as they arise are very specific and at times harsh, with death being the consequence of one’s actions. He gives guidelines as to how slaves should be treated.

My first reaction to this Chapter is: “Wow! That’s pretty legalistic God. There’s not much room left for discussion! It’s hard to put myself in this circumstance and try to understand what God was trying to do, but when times were different, moral guidance was needed for the Israelites. After all they’d been in bondage and slavery for so long, they’d forgotten what freedom looks like and how to live under these new circumstances. The laws given here are intended to be fair and just to all…. including slaves. Yet again we see how wise our God is, He is setting things up for His people to live in a moral, just and fair place, teaching them to treat each other with respect and honour, no matter their station in life.

Do I need that lesson today? I have not experienced bondage or slavery…or have I? God has given me a free choice every day to choose Him or choose to go where I want to go. Very often my own will takes over and I choose my way. I am so thankful that He is still there waiting for me to choose Him. I pray that in choosing Him I can treat others in the same patient and loving way.

— Irene

Application Questions:

How does God look at us today? Are we in need of instruction on how to live our lives in a moral, just and fair fashion? Are we enslaved by the pull of society which draws us away from God?

Exodus 20: A Jealous God

I like rules. I’m a black and white kind of person. Rules bring boundaries and define something to be right and something to be wrong. Simple. Yet I still find myself often balking at rules and trying to push boundaries.

When we see something as just black and white or just rules and boundaries, we may not be looking beneath the surface to the “why”.

In amongst the ‘shall not’s in Exodus 20, verse 4 reads, “…for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

Instantly we venture from “black and white” to depths and insight and God continuing to introduce Himself to His people. God isn’t putting the rules in place because he gets fulfillment from seeing His people struggle. The culture that the Israelites knew was not leading them on a path toward God. These commandments seem to be the beginning of God setting His people apart from the rest of the world.

As we are in the middle of Lent, most of us have set boundaries for ourselves to keep us from something. My ‘shall not’ includes my weekly cinnamon bun and other sweets. I try to keep my mind on the “why” instead of what counts and what doesn’t count as something sweet. And in the denial of my comfort, a little more room is made each day for the One who brought us freedom.

God wants our attention.

He is jealous for us.

— Stephanie

Application questions

When you’re tempted to push the boundaries, what are some things that could remind you of the “why”?

What are those things in your life that God could be jealous of?

Exodus 19: Remember Who You’re Talking To

In this chapter, Moses and the Israelites arrive at Mount Sinai, where God presents His covenant; and appears before them. God’s descent on the mountain is described in verses 16 to 18 – “On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 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.”

Wow! There cannot be a more grand, slightly intimidating, yet splendid description than this of God appearing before humankind. I don’t know about you, but just as the Israelites, I too would be trembling at that sight. Not out of fear, but out of an overwhelming astonishment to be in His presence. Often when I think of God, I think of His relational side; His approachable, I’m-gonna-love-you-no-matter-what-and-fix-all-your-problems side. But reading these verses reminded me of how much more God is – He’s all-powerful; He’s a king!

The Israelites were given three days to prepare themselves to meet God and it made me think of my process. When it comes to spending time with Him, I feel that I’m always in a rush or I’m not 100% focused. I casually come before Him and immediately begin asking away for His help, to fix something or someone and I totally disregard who exactly it is that I’m talking to. But reading this chapter was humbling – it put into perspective of God’s amazing power and sovereignty and of how BIG He really is. It reminded me that in drawing near to God, we must never forget His holiness, His greatness, or His grandeur. After all, this God that came to meet the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai had previously set them free from oppression in Egypt and parted the Red Sea; is the same God that came down to this world, to free us from sin so that we can worship and be with Him forever. 

— Michelle B.

Exodus 18: Get A Crew

Moses is perhaps the greatest leader history has ever seen (other than Jesus of course). I mean, the guy led a revolution that liberated an entire nation from slavery; He remained steadfast against the most powerful man on planet earth and he rallied hundreds of thousands of people together to pursue a cause that could have gotten them all killed. 

But even Moses with his audacious vision and spectacular achievements had a breaking point and we read about it in chapter 18. 

As we pick up the story, we see Moses’ role change from freedom-fighter to pastor. His calling shifts from rescuing the people of Israel to shepherding them through everyday life. 

As he transitions into his new identity he finds himself fatigued and overwhelmed. In fact, Moses was so burdened and worn out that other people around him begin to notice. His father-in-law Jethro was one of those people. As Jethro examined the countenance of Moses, he saw the unrest of his soul and lovingly confronted him about it. 

Jethro says to Moses “what you are doing is not good”…”you are not able to do it alone”

Their conversation was simple yet profound and in that moment everything changed for Moses. 

This short conversation was the catalyst that set Moses on the journey of surrounding himself with people who would support him, encourage him, and carry the burden of life with him. This moment was the wakeup call Moses needed to realize that he couldn’t do life on his own. He finally understood that if he were to continuing living his life on his own he would soon fall under the weight of the world. 

Moses, as amazing as he was, did not have the capacity to live and lead alone. He needed friends, family and community to truly experience all that God had for him.

For followers of Jesus today Jethro’s words still ring true, “you are not able to do this alone”. 

God created us to live and thrive in community. He designed us to lean on and depend on the church. When we take life into our own hands and exclude those who God has placed in our lives to walk with us and support us through the good times and also the bad, we set ourselves up for failure.

Life is hard. Difficulties are just around the corner. We can either try to struggle through life alone or we can recognize, like Moses did, that life is so much better with a crew of people that love and support us. 

— Mark

Application Questions

Moses began to surround himself with good people who genuinely loved and cared for him. Who do you have in your life right now that you can trust and depend on no matter what your season of life looks like?

For God’s plan in Moses life to be fulfilled, Moses needed to allow Jethro to speak into his life even though it was hard. Who might you need to give permission to speak into your life so that you become more like Jesus?

Moses had to begin looking and asking people to help him. Who do you have in your life who you need to be more intentional with about building a deeper and more meaningful relationship?

Sometimes we are Moses and sometimes we are the people who surrounded Moses. Who do you have in your life who needs you to be there for them right now? How can you begin to surround them to be a support and encouragement? 

Exodus 17: Being There For Each Other

As I read through Chapter 17 of the book of Exodus, what stood out to me from a life perspective were verses 8 – 16 that described the battle the Israelites had with the tribe of Amalek. Specifically, the words written in verses 11 & 12 where the writer states “So it came about when Moses held his hand up, the Israelites prevailed and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it and Aaron & Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set”. The result of this was that Joshua was able to overwhelm Amalek and his people.

This passage speaks so much to the whole concept of small groups and having people in our lives that can act as “Aaron & Hur” being there for us and allowing us to be “steady” as we go through the ups and downs of everyday living. I know in my life, I have always found it beneficial to have people that I can go to and discuss the issues that I face. It can be family members, co-workers and people that I would do community with.  They can be there to listen, provide guidance as well as hold me accountable. My prayer would be that we would all have those people in our lives that would “be there for each other.”

— Eric

Application Questions

Do you have an “Aaron and/or Hur” in your life that you can discuss the “deep” things you may be dealing with?

Are you experiencing the benefits of being in a small group?

Exodus 16: Losing Perspective

So here we are six weeks after the Israelites were saved from captivity and they are grumbling. Not just a little, but a lot. (Verse 2-“the whole community grumbled”) Enough that God felt He had to perform another act of His power to let them know He was God (vs. 6-“In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt”). The Lord had saved them from slavery; they had witnessed the plagues oppressing the Egyptians and saw their people protected time and time again. They had been living in treacherous conditions for generations, and yet just weeks later they felt like they would have been better off in Egypt than their current situation! Verse 4 –“if only we had died by the Lord’s hand In Egypt.“

It’s easy to read this and think, “Wow, those ungrateful people! How can they doubt God again?” How can they not trust that the Lord will provide for their needs? How can they lose perspective so fast? They thought they would be better off back in Egypt as slaves, oppressed and beaten? How often are we like this? We cry out for the Lord for the desires of our heart, and He grants them. Then in just a short time, we are unhappy with our situation again. We have experienced God’s provision but doubt it when the next area of need arises. 

How quickly I can forget when God provided for me and defaulted into my sense of control again. God provided Manna from Heaven because they were hungry, but some of the Israelites would not trust in the provision of the Lord nor heed his instructions and took more than enough for a day. Again within hours of having their needs met taking back control and disregarding God’s instructions.

God, of course, has the Power to do anything but how often are we waiting for another BIG sign of His provision or power before we will walk with him, move along a path in our life? The Israelites missed out on so many years of blessings the Lord wanted to give him because they kept doubting and forgot what the Lord had delivered them from, what he had promised. What was the cost of him having to do this over and over? It makes me wonder – what areas of my life am I waiting for some big sign from the Lord when He has shown me time and time again who He is and that he will provide for me. Where is my doubt and need for control costing me in experiencing the so much more God could be doing if I wasn’t wasting so much of his time having to answer the same questions over and over?

He is GOD. He will provide!

— Shelly

Application Questions

Where in your life have you lost perspective on where God has delivered you from or provided for you?

What blessings, experiences, are you missing out on because you are waiting again on some Huge sign of God’s power or provision when He has already displayed it faithfully many times?

Exodus 15: Posture of Worship

It’s crazy to think how powerful God truly is… (i.e.,. He just split a sea!!!) In Chapter 15, Moses leads the children of Israel in a song after crossing the Red Sea because—why wouldn’t you be singing and worshipping after an experience like that? They sing about God’s character, about His triumphs, and their deliverance. After, they went into the wilderness and went three days with no water. When they came to Marah, they found water, but it was bitter. Moses cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed Moses a log, which he threw in the water, and it was made sweet.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Exodus 15:2

There are so many great acts of God in Exodus, yet it seems like in our culture today we seem to forget about how powerful God truly is and who we’re devoting our lives to. We forget that we’re worshipping a King greater than all kings. Chapter 15 is the first recorded song in the Bible, and I think that it is an excellent example of how we should posture ourselves in worship. I can’t imagine the Israelites singing this song in a mundane tone, no joy, and no expression. I picture them shouting, hoot-n-hollering, and expressing their total gratitude to a God who saved them. In the same way, God saved us by sending His own Son to die on the cross! When we worship, it’s a moment we have with God. Show some expression! Declare God’s triumph! Show some gratitude to the One whom we worship! Start practicing now because we’ll be singing the same song as Moses and the Israelites in heaven, as it says in Revelation:

“I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.”
Revelation 15:1-3 (NIV)

If you need some tips on practicing a physical posture of worship, I found this photo for you 🙂

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— JR

Application Questions

Do you have a personal experience in mind where you encountered God’s deliverance? How did you feel or what was your reaction?

How is your posture of worship? Is there anything that holds you back from being an expressive worshipper?

 

 

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