Assignment for Preaching Class–Exodus 19:1-6

On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”
So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. The people all answered as one: “Everything that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

There are some words from scripture that have etched themselves into you; Words that you can’t be rid of even if you wanted to. Words that haunt you. This passage is one of those places for me. These are the words that never let me be. In the midst of my hardest times these words pursue me. I think we’re all there at some point, aren’t we? We’re led out Egypt, but then we hit the desert. We’re not in slavery anymore, but we are certainly not happy about things now in the wilderness. Why in the world would God bring us here, sure things were bad back in Epypt, but not like this. We had things we could depend on! We knew what would happen! And yet, Three months later we arrive here to the mountain of the Lord. God’s mountain is still out here in the desert. Arriving at what seemed like the destination sure doesn’t feel like it…but then God speaks. The Lord speaks. To us, this is surprising. We spent 3 months walking here wondering what it was about, but just like that the silence is broken. “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself.” In the eyes of God, this journey was as though we were on eagles wings. It didn’t feel like that at all! It hurt! We walked far and left everything we knew…and yet it seems that to God, this was the easiest it could be. The loss, the walking in the wilderness…the whole point of this trip was so that God could bring us to Godself?? I didn’t understand that. Freed, sure, but brought to God? I suppose I’d always assumed that the point was to be made free, but it turns out that freedom has a point. We’re made free for a purpose. “Now therefore if you obey my voice and keep my covenant you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” Oh. God wants us to share life with Godself? I don’t know if I even want this. If there is anything scarier than slavery, this is it. I’m almost willing to run all the way back to Egypt to avoid this. What does the Lord want? The Lord wants to treasure us. The Lord wants us to be a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. We’re supposed to represent God to everyone? I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t ask for this responsibility…but then…all those prayers…what were they? Every time I turned to God, what did I expect to happen? I didn’t expect the Lord to listen to every single one. The ones in the pain, asking for help. The ones when I was enslaved, wanting to be free. The ones when I was wounded, asking to be healed….I think at the most basic level all of these prayers were really asking for one thing: I was always asking for God. It seems that the Lord called my bluff. God knew that when I was hurting I was really screaming for comfort. God knew that when I was enslaved I really desired a life of freedom. God knew in my wounded-ness that I wanted to be whole. And so God did the only thing God could do for us, broken, wounded, enslaved people…God brought us to Godself. And we are terrified. We didn’t sign up for this, but then…we did. We asked, and God delivered. Certainly, the thing we asked for, but we didn’t know that in our demanding help, freedom, and wholeness we were really demanding Godself to be with us. And now the Lord is…with us. Where else is there to go? Do we really have anyone better? Was there another who came to us in our misery and brought us into life? Here we are in the wilderness…at the very mountain of God and the he speaks to us asking us to live our lives with her. God has already committed to us, and now God waits with hands outstretched. Looking deep into God’s eyes for the first time we see past the terror and just there…catch a glimpse of what we truly desire. Yes, the Lord asks for and offers us everything. Yes, the Lord asks us to change…and Yes, we want him. More than want we long for God so deep that our whole being aches with longing for her. This God has always been what we have wanted…even when we didn’t know it. And so, with this quiet realization within us…we and the people of Israel take the leap: “Everything that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

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