Overview of Exodus 14-35:
Red Sea, Song of Moses, Miriam
Waters of Marah, Elim,
Manna and Quail,
Water from the Rock,
Jethro’s visit, Administration suggested
Ten Commandments and various laws spoken by God,
Covenant confirmed with Moses,
Aaron and sons, and 70 elders before God.
Moses Goes up Sinai to receive laws and tablets,
Moses asks to see God’s glory,
New Stone tablets,
God reveals Himself to Moses, glowing face and veil,
Israel called together, work on Tabernacle is begun.
Reading: Exodus 20:1-19 (The Ten Commandments)
Look at Exodus 34:27-28
These Ten Commandments are the words of the covenant that God made with Israel.
How many of us here today could name, in order, the 10 Commandments?
Let’s go through them together:
You shall have no other gods before me (before me, means besides me)
You shall not worship any graven image
You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain
You shall honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy
Honor your father and your mother
You shall not kill
You shall not commit adultery
You shall not steal
You shall not bear false witness
You shall not covet
Notice that the first four commandments reflect the greatest commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Notice that the last six commandments reflect the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Almost everyone agrees with the last six commandments, whether they believe in God or not. We all, generally speaking, know that it is good to honor our parents, and to not kill, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie and not covet our neighbor’s spouse or stuff. But where do we find the support to help us follow these? What motivation proves strong enough to keep people from breaking these last six commandments?
The Bible teaches us from cover to cover that there is one God, and that we human beings are created in God’s image and likeness and that we do best when we know this and when we practice what it implies about how we treat one another. In a world full of idols and things that compete for our hearts and minds, it is easy to become confused and distracted.
The Bible teaches us that we are all fallen creatures. That all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. We do not live up to the image and likeness of God. The truth is, we are sinful by nature, and have been ever since the first sin entered this world through Adam and Eve.
When we draw close to God, we draw close to one another. When we have a biblical relationship with God we see past race, color, language, socio/economic barriers and see God’s image and likeness in people. This is why Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. When we know and love God, we are empowered to know and love one another as we should.
If everyone believed this and if everyone loved God above all, then if everyone looked at one another and saw God’s image and likeness, how would that impact the way we treat one another? Would we not show respect and honor to one another?
But our divided and fallen world either has either too many false god’s or it has no god at all. The Bible shows us where this will lead humanity and experience demonstrates it as well.
Jesus said, “Enter the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction, and may go that way. But narrow is the gate and difficult the path that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
This has always been true. Over and over again in our readings we have seen that it is only a remnant that seeks God and is saved. Think of what we’ve just read. How much more can God do to reveal Himself to Israel than what we read about in Exodus? God sought them, but they do not seem to seek Him.
God took them out of slavery, but He led them into the wilderness to test them. They failed the tests over and over. God made a covenant with them at Sinai and actually spoke the Ten Commandments to them the first time before Moses went up to receive them on tablets of stone.
Ray Vander Laan does a great job of showing how this scene at Sinai is like a wedding. God is taking Israel unto Himself as a husband would take a bride. Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
Through the ten plagues God defeats HIs competition and judges the gods of Egypt, each plague demonstrating God’s power over an Egyptian god. Then God leads Israel out of Egypt and into the Wilderness where He gives them four signs of His care: the deliverance through the Red Sea (14), healing the waters of Marah (15), the Manna and quail (16) and the water from the rock (17).
At Sinai in Exodus 19 God prepares Israel for the Wedding Covenant (Ten Commandments) in chapter 20.
At every Jewish wedding there are several items that are part of that ceremony: a mikvah (or mikveh), a chuppah, a ketubah, and a sign. We find these four items at Mount Sinai:
1. A Mikvah מקווה, a place of ceremonial cleansing – Yahweh commands the people to cleanse themselves and make themselves ready for the marriage (Exodus 19:10-14).
2. A Chuppah חוּפָּה, a place of covering, a canopy – not only does Yahweh cover the entire mountain with a cloud, but Hebrew scripture can literally be translated “they stood under the mountain” (Exodus 19:17).
3. A Ketubah כְּתוּבָּה, a written contract or marriage agreement – the two copies of the Ten Commandments; one copy for the husband, one for the wife. Yahweh trusted his bride so fully both copies were given for her to hold and to keep (Exodus 20:1-17).
4. A Sign אוֹת, a visible, tangible expression of the love – Yahweh institutes the Sabbath as a weekly sign that he and his bride belong to each other and enjoy each other’s presence (Exodus 20:1-17, Exodus 31:16-17).
Commandment One: Yahweh has just vanquished all of the Egyptian gods, whom he calls “other lovers”, then brings the Hebrews out to Mount Sinai, and says in effect: “Remember what I’ve done for you. Put me first. Have no other lovers (gods) before me, for I have taken you to be my bride.” (More on this commandment below).
Commandment Two: Yahweh then says in effect: “Now that I’m your number one lover, don’t dwell on your former lovers. In fact, don’t make statues of them, don’t keep paintings of them on your walls, don’t listen to them, don’t even talk about them!”
Commandment Three: Yahweh then says in effect: “When you take my name as your name, don’t do it lightly or in vain.”
Commandment Four: Yahweh then says in effect: “Spend quality time with me. Let’s meet together every Sabbath and get to know each other more intimately.”
Whether we can agree that the giving of the Ten Commandments is a sort of wedding between God and Israel, we clearly see in the New Testament that the church is the bride of Christ. Jesus defeated our enemy, death, through His own death on the cross. He paid the bridal price of His own body and blood to redeem us from slavery to sin. He bore our sins in His body on the cross, and now to all who believe and receive Him in obedient faith, Jesus imparts to us His own righteousness.