Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Year: Ex 19-22 for Jan 22

Sinai (Ex 19-20) is not the reason for which God delivered the Israelites from Egypt.

God delivered the Israelites "to bring them up from that land, to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Ex 3:8). It was all due to the fact that "God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," and that was all about the land farther north. This is repeated in 3:17.

Why then Sinai? There are lots of reasons. One was that it was a personal promise to Moses, way before he even went back to Egypt from Midian (3:12). Moses had been right there (3:1; 3:12). Twice (4:27). He is going back to family and in-laws, as we saw in Ex 18, with a few people for Jethro to meet.

Originally, Moses had proposed a three-days' journey to Pharaoh -- to make sacrifices to God (3:18; 5:3). God, in re-iterating His purposes to Moses, tells him "I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (6:8).

After the first plague, God says to Pharaoh "Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness." This does not go beyond what 3:18 and 5:3 proposed. Similarly, "that they may serve Me" in 8:1,20; 9:1,13; 10:3. That's how both Pharaoh and Moses understand it in 8:27-28, and how Pharaoh's servants understand it in 10:7,8. When Moses subsequently mentions that "we have a feast to the Lord" in 10:9, Pharaoh, perhaps not comprehending this combination of serving and feasting, makes an off remark (10:11), and it's interesting that of all the events to follow, this event is elaborated on with his most contrite words (10:16-17). After the ninth of the ten plagues, Pharaoh gives what he thought would be Pharaoh's final offer, to let them go without their flocks and herds (10:24).

Ex 12 gives more reason for us to understand God's purposes for redeeming Israel. There, on the eve of the deliverance from Egypt, before the events at Sinai, God institutes the Passover "ordinance" (12:43). in perpetuity for the Israelites, and starts their calendar at month 1 on it (12:2). Symbolic acts, such as eating a meal "in haste," etc. 12:11; rules about how the meal should be made, and who should be and not be there, 12:44-46. The whole of chapter 13 highlights the perpetual (13:10) significance of the Passover and Unleavened Bread week (13:7). No anticipation of Sinai is part of this ordinance.

The same doing things for their own sake occurs in the pivotal events of the crossing of the Red Sea. And so, up through Exodus 15:21, including the redemption from Egypt and the deliverance of the people from Pharaoh's pursuing army, it's all working out what God has done and what is appropriate in response to that.

Enter 15:22ff, in which we see the following: "So the people grumbled at Moses ...." (15:24). In 15:25 we read "there He [God] tested them." That was one test. Then in 16:4, another. We see the reason behind Paul saying "Why the Law, then? It was added because of transgressions (Gal 3:19). Paul had explained "if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise" (Gal 3:18). His summary statement is "What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise" (Gal 3:17). It is very important to remember that here, at Sinai, there already is an existing covenant, which the Law does not invalidate. The inheritance -- what the promises promised -- are not invalidated by the Law.

Here in Exodus 20:20, is the reason for this meeting at Sinai: "Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.'"

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