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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Matt's Messages - The Renewed Covenant

“The Renewed Covenant”
August 14, 2005
Exodus 33:1-34:35


Last week, in Exodus chapter 32, we read about a terrible day in the history of God’s people: Israel broke her covenant with the LORD.

While Moses was on top of Mount Sinai receiving the blueprints for the tabernacle and the instructions for establishing the Aaronic Priesthood, Aaron and the people of Israel were at the bottom of the mountain constructing and worshiping and partying around a golden-calf-idol.

Israel broke her covenant with the LORD.

And the LORD saw it. His wrath was kindled, and He got angry at the people and threatened to wipe them all out and start again with Moses.

But Moses, acting as mediator, interceded for Israel. And the LORD relented! He did not wipe them out as He had threatened. Israel was hit with a plague, but they were not destroyed.

However, the status of the covenant (where we left off last week) is still unclear.

It is still unclear whether or not the LORD is “in covenant” with Israel as they had established in Exodus chapters 19-24.

The covenant still seems broken. Israel has forsaken the LORD with a great sin. Will the LORD forgive? Will the LORD have mercy and compassion on Israel? Or will they be left to their own devices (an awful prospect!)?

Will the covenant be renewed?

At the beginning of Exodus chapter 33, it sure doesn’t look like it.

We’re going to read 2 chapters this morning (Exodus 33 and Exodus 34), and as we go along we’re not only going to read about the renewal (or not) of the covenant, but we’re going to read about the glory of God. And that glory of God will provide us with three points of application this morning.

Let’s pray and then start in on Exodus chapter 33.

[prayer]

Exodus chapter 33. The LORD speaks to Moses. And He has some really bad news. V.1

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.' [That doesn’t sound bad. Sounds like Genesis!] I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. [All right!] Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But [!] I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.’ [That’s bad news!] When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. [Good thing. Their ornaments have been getting them into trouble!] For the LORD had said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites, 'You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.'’ So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.” Pause there.

The status of the Mosaic covenant is in jeopardy.

God is promising (in some way) to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant and send whatever portion of Israel that survives into the Promised Land. But He is not promising to go with them.

That’s a tragedy in the making.

Even with an angel going before them, Israel will be finished if they try to go into Canaan without the presence of YHWH.

And so the people mourn. They strip off their ornaments and cry and grieve at the base of the mountain. All seems lost.

There is only one glimmer of hope. And it’s in the intercession of Moses. V.7

“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting.’ Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. [The key word there is “outside.” The LORD is not in their midst. His “connection” with them is outside the camp in this “tent of meeting.” Is this the tabernacle? No. It has not yet been built. Is it going to be built? We’re not sure yet! This may be their only chance. V.8] And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. [Will YHWH come?] As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. [Yes! God is here. God has not forsaken us. Perhaps He will spare us. Perhaps He will renew our covenant! V.11] The LORD would speak to Moses face to face [that means intimately], as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. [Perhaps to guard it.]”

And at one such meeting, Moses interceded for Israel. V.12

“Moses said to the LORD, ‘You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me [I think he means, “Will there be any people left in Israel?”]. You have said, 'I know you [Moses] by name and you have found favor with me.' [I know that I am in your good graces and can expect to carry the promise into Canaan, but will there be any Israel left by the time we get there? V.13] If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.’ The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you [Moses?], and I will give you rest.’ [“Yes, Yes,” Moses says, “But we all need you to go with us. Please renew your covenant. V.15] Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us [all of us], do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’”

Moses is interceding for Israel. He is crying out to YHWH to have mercy on them as a whole. And to renew the covenant. And the LORD says, “Yes.” V.17

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’”

God is saying, “Because of our relationship, Moses, I will go with Israel into the Promised Land. Because I know you and you have faith and I am pleased with you and know you by name, I will go with Israel into the Promised Land.”

And then, Moses asks for something absolutely amazing. V.18

“Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’”

In many ways, Moses is saying, “I want some further knowledge that this is your plan. I am requesting this (“in writing,” so to speak). And I want to see your glory.”

Every time the LORD has done something major in the book of Exodus, He has shown up in His glory. The Burning Bush, the Red Sea Rescue, the Storm on the Mountain, the glimpse of His footstool at the Ratification of the Covenant.

Moses asks for something like that again.

Show me your glory!

I want to see your glory.

I need a reassurance of your good plans for our people. And I want to go further in knowing you than I ever have. I want to see your glory.

Show me your glory!

What a request! I think there is a mingling here of unbelief and stunning faith.

Part of me thinks that Moses should have just taken God at His word. But there is also a part of this that is stunningly good. He should want to see God’s glory.

We all should.

Point #1. SEEK GOD’S GLORY.

What is God’s glory?

God’s glory is the beauty of the radiance of the sum of his perfections.

It is the beauty of God’s “godness.” It is the shining forth of His holiness.

It is the sum-total of all of His excellencies in all its beauty.

And Moses wanted to see it. He wanted to taste it. He wanted to experience, to know, to see the glory of God.

He was seeking the glory of God.

It’s like his prayer in v.13.

“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”

Show me your glory!

Is that your heart’s prayer?

Does your heart skip a beat when you hear those words?

Do you want to see God? Do you want to know Him?

“Show me your glory! I want to see you.”

To See You High and Lifted Up!
Shining in the Light of Your Glory (Open the Eyes of My Heart)

Show me your glory!

Seek God’s Glory.

Want God’s glory.

My favorite author is John Piper. And He has just finished a new book that has this provocative title, “God is the Gospel.”

So often we think that the gospel is that which keeps us out of Hell (and it is).

We think that the gospel is that which forgives us of our sins (and it is).

We think that the gospel is the good news of eternal life (and it is).

But all of that is secondary to the gospel being the good news that introduces us to God Himself!

God is the Gospel!

The reason we don’t want to go to Hell, ultimately, is that God is not present in Hell. (To bless.)

The reason we need our sins forgiven is that they would keep us from God.

The reason we would want eternal life is because eternal life is knowing the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent!

God is the Gospel.

And if we really believe the gospel, then we will want to see God.

We will want His glory. Want to see His glory.

Seek God’s Glory.

That’s what Moses does. ... Does God do it? V.19

“And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you (that’s what His glory is!), and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence (that’s what His glory is!–His name!). I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ [God reserves the sovereign right to choose, on His terms from His own being and wisdom, whom to show compassion and mercy to. That’s part of His glory, too! V.20] ‘But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’ [What’s going on here?] Then the LORD said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’”

Here we go again with the mystery of God’s glory being seen. God uses words like “hand” and “back” and “face” to communicate things that are impossible for us to understand. God doesn’t have a literal hand, face, and back (except in the incarnation of Jesus) but He uses words like this to give us a taste of what He is like so that we have some categories, at least, to talk about Him with.

Moses has seeked to see God’s glory.

Moses is going to get a taste of the glory of God.

Just a taste!

Anything more would kill him.

Glory of God is going to pass by Moses while he’s in the cleft of a rock (a tight little hole or crack in the wall) hidden by God’s hand. And then God will (whatever this means!) take away His hand so that Moses will get a glimpse of the after-effects (that “back” whatever that means!) of the goodness of God as He passes by.

What an amazing thing!

Anything more would kill him. And He’s the person on Earth who is closest to God.

This kind of language always shows up when God shows up in His glory. There is just no real way to describe it!

God is indescribably glorious! Anything more than a glimpse would be deadly.

And you know what else He’s doing? He’s renewing the covenant. This is the covenant “take 2.” Chapter 34, verse 1.

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.’”

Is this deja vu for you? Where have we heard something like this before?

Exodus chapter 19, right?

This is the making of the covenant all over again. The covenant is being renewed on the strength of God’s glory. V.4

“So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’”

This is God’s glory.

And He is making it known.

Point #2. KNOW GOD’S GLORY.

Don’t just seek it. Know it.

He has revealed it right here. This is what God is like.

God’s glory is not just an amazing, beautiful, shining radiance.

It is the glory of His perfections.

Perfect in Power, You Control All Things
Perfect in Wisdom, You Know Everything
Perfect in Goodness, Jesus, You’re So Good To Me, So Good To Me

(Sovereign One)

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger [a slow fuse], abounding in love and faithfulness [just abounding, pouring out everywhere!], maintaining love to thousands [of generations], and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin [forgiving!]. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished [He’s holy! Where there is no genunine repentance]; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation [of those who hate Him].”

That’s God’s glory! Do you know God like this?

The whole rest of the Old Testament is founded upon this description of the character of God.

Does anyone know where these words show up again in the Bible?

Numbers 14:18, 2 Chronicles 30:9, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 111:4, Psalm 112:4, Psalm 116:5, Psalm 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3 (at least!)

This is Who God is.

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Do you see the twin attributes of grace and holiness?

Compassion, grace, longsufferingness, love, faithfulness, forgiveness.
And yet, justice, punishment, unwavering commitment to what is right.

That’s God. That’s right!

That’s God’s glory. We should know it.

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...”

Remember the Burning Bush? How God revealed this name to Moses and explained that it meant that He was going to rescue Israel from their bondage?

The LORD.

Here He repeats it for emphasis.

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...”

You know what He is going to do, don’t you?

He’s going to renew the covenant!

Based on His grace, God is going to renew this covenant with His people.

Because that’s the kind of God He is.

He chooses whom He will show mercy and compassion to! He is not beholdened to anyone based on their own merit and goodness!

But He loves to forgive wickedness, rebellion, and sin.

Even sin with a golden-calf!

Do you know this God?
Do you know this glory?

This description of God’s character is not just the foundation for the whole rest of the Old Testament. It is the basis for the New Testament, as well.

It is a description of the Cross.

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. [That’s what happened when Jesus Christ died on the Cross for sinners like you and me.] Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

That’s what happened on the Cross, as well.

Jesus became sin for us. The “guilty” did not go unpunished!

He became the “guilty” for us!

Do you know this God? Moses did.

And He recognized what an glorious being He is. V.8

“Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. ‘O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,’ he said, ‘then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.’ [As you have described yourself.]

“Then the LORD said: ‘I am making a covenant with you. [It’s really the same one renewed.] Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. [I am renewing the covenant.] Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. [You are to have a covenant with Me alone!] Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. [No more idols, Israel! This is what God’s glory is like. It is jealous. Know God’s glory. It is jealous for your affections.]”

“Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. Do not make cast idols. [And don’t have festivals to them. Observe My festivals!] Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. [Sovereign One!] I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God. Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning. Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. ‘Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk.’”

Does this stuff sound familiar?

God is renewing the covenant. It’s the same covenant. It’s still in force. God is going to go with them into the Promised Land.

The covenant is no longer a broken covenant. God has been gracious and compassionate to Israel! V.27

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights [again] without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant–the Ten Commandments. [To go into the Ark of the Covenant as a symbol of the covenant God is renewing with His people.]

Know God’s Glory.

It is full of grace.

Today, you may be here thinking that you have totally blown it with God. There is no chance for you and God to get together again.

You feel too unworthy for God. Too sinful. Too out of the reach of His hand.

You are not. If you will repent, God can restore you.

He is Jealous, Yes! And He will not leave sin to go unchecked.

But He is “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

You are not too bad for God to restore.

Turn to Him.

Seek His Face.
And Know His Glory.

Now, here’s the question. It’s been another 40 days and 40 nights. What will Moses find at the bottom of the mountain this time?

Will they be having another party?

Will they disregard Moses again? V.29

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.”

And in the next five chapters, they began to carry them out.

The covenant is renewed.

And God is glorified.

Moses came down with dose of God’s glory still on His face!

Enough to scare the heebie-jeebies out of Aaron and the Israelites!

But then, He talked to them. And they could see that it was Moses. And they listened to him. And the radiance continued. V.33

“When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.”

Point #3. REFLECT GOD’S GLORY.

Moses saw something of the glory of God, and He became like it in His person.

Moses sought the glory of God, knew the glory of God, and reflected the glory of God.

You say, that’s fine for Moses, but I’ve never seen that bright light.

No, but on this side of the Cross, we see God’s glory much more clearer than Moses ever did.

We (by faith) see Jesus.

And we (by faith) are to reflect Him, becoming more and more and more like Him

The New Covenant is so much greater, more glorious than this Old One that was renewed in Exodus 34!

The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 7:

“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses [catch this!], who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. [Have you turned to the Lord?] Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. [And here it is! 2 Corinthians 3:18] And we, who with unveiled faces all [all of us!] reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory [King James: “from glory to glory!”], which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

We, like Moses, are known by God.
We, like Moses, should seek God’s glory.
We, like Moses, should know God’s glory: He is gracious and just at the same time.

And we, like Moses, should reflect God’s glory.

But, we are not like Moses. We have unveiled faces before God. In Christ, His glory is not fading in us–it is increasing!

We are to reflect more and more and more and more and more and more for all eternity from glory to glory the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are to grow in Christ-like-ness. And never stop.

And reflect God’s glory to the watching world.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Are you reflecting the Lord’s glory?

Are you growing in Christlikeness?

Our covenant with God is greater than the last. It is a covenant of increase. Forever and ever growing in Christ’s likeness.

Let’s seek God, know God and reflect God’s glory forever.

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