There are a number of major themes that weave their way through the whole story of the Bible: covenant, kingdom, and temple, just to name a few. This last Sunday we looked at the theme of God’s presence in each of the sections of the story that we have covered thus far (Genesis 1-11, Genesis 12-50, and Exodus 1-18), and then how this idea of God’s presence comes into a bit of a sharper focus in Exodus 19-40.
Moses himself gives us an example of how important this idea of God’s presence with his covenant people is in one of his interactions with God. It happens immediately following the golden calf incident, which occurred while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving instructions from God regarding designs for his dwelling place, the tabernacle.
[And God said,] “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned.
And Moses said to God, “If your presence will not go with [us], do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us?…” (from Exodus 33)
Moses, and the people with him, cannot imagine life without the presence of God. And it is in interactions like this that we see how they are desperate to know and experience the presence of God (this is further displayed in his famous story of Moses pleading to see the glory of God, found in Exodus 34).
Exodus concludes with the desire for his presence being met: God has descended in glorious fashion from Mt. Sinai, into the Eden-like tabernacle that he had designed, and the people had built. What a marvelous turn of events from the “disastrous word” to the beauty of his glory among the people!
But then, in the last few verses of Exodus, comes this surprising problem:
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting…” (Exodus 40:34-35a)
It appears that the presence of God brings its own set of challenges for the people of the covenant, who are sinful and fall short of what God requires. So how will they enter his presence? Moses is positively egging us on, to turn the page, and continue reading in the book of Leviticus.
If you would like to continue exploring this section of The Whole Story found in Exodus 19-40, the resources below are a great place to start:
- Review last week’s sermon on Exodus 19-40.
- Download the Exodus 19-40 study guide found here (scroll down the page a bit when you get there) to study as a family or in your community group.
- Click here to find a whole page of videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on Exodus 19-40.
- This coming Sunday, 04 February, we will be studying Leviticus. As we discover how God will solve the problem of sinful people living in his presence, a couple of important themes will surface. Watching the videos on Sacrifice and Atonement and Holiness from the Bible project will help you prepare as you read the story and come to the Sunday morning service.
I’d like to repeat a suggestion I made last week or keeping up on your bible reading as we make our way through The Whole Story sermon series. One of the best ways to do this is listening to the Bible. While you are on a commute, making dinner, shoveling the walk, or on a run, you can listen to the Bible reading that day. Yes, listening counts! My favorite website and app for that comes from ESV.org. Check it out.
As always, please feel free to email me with questions or ideas for The Whole Story. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, when we will begin the next chapter of the drama by studying Leviticus. Be sure to read it before you come!
Seeking Jesus, the point of The Whole Story, with you,
This last week we made our way through the book of Numbers. We learned how this book, filled with some pretty famous Sunday School type of stories, is also shot-through with the sad themes of unbelief and rebellion. It is shocking how a people who experienced so many displays of God’s faithfulness could still be ungrateful and unsatisfied with his provision and timing. Which ironically makes it so relevant for our study, for we all struggle with being satisfied with the circumstances of our lives.
It is the backdrop of Leviticus — with its thousands of priests and millions of sacrifices — that causes the beauty of the work of Jesus — the one priest, and the once for all sacrifice — to shine all the more brilliantly.
I think it is probably safe to say that there are two great peaks in the mountain range of God’s rescue and restoration of the earth. What the cross-resurrection event is to the New Testament, the exodus is to the Old Testament. In each case, the great redemptive salvation act (exodus/cross) produces the covenant community of God’s people (Israel/church) who are called to serve God and his universal mission.
Genesis 12-50: I Will Bless You
It is hard to look at any one text in the Bible and say that it is more important than any other text of the Bible. Since the whole Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit as God’s Words, it is all equally valid and useful for growth in the grace and knowledge of our King, Jesus (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 3:18). At the same time, there are those passages that are particularly vital and important to knowing what God is up to in his rescue and restoration plan for the world.
The Whole Story: Genesis One Through Eleven
This last Sunday, January 7th, we kicked off our new sermon series, The Whole Story. As Genesis is the first book of the Bible, we began there, by covering chapters one through eleven...
Why Should I Read The Bible?
Most days I love waking up, coffeeing up, praying up, and then gobbling up the Bible. But not every day. I’m just like you in that. I need reminding about why the Bible — God’s Whole Story — is an important part of my day, for every other part of my day.
The Whole Story
On Sunday, January 7th, we will begin a year and a half exploration of the whole story of the whole Bible...