In this sixth week in Exodus the Lifeway curriculum switches to Unit 2 “Design for Relationship”. The first week of this new unit is “What Are Your Ground Rules (Exodus 19:1-24:18).” We have seen the redemption of Israel from the oppression of Egypt through the previous five weeks. We have seen how this is a major focus of the Bible. The seed of the serpent, the people against God, and the seed of the woman, those with faith in God (ultimately Jesus the Christ) are opposed to each other (Genesis 3:15). Moses has been, and will continue to be, the figure who gives us most insight into Christ during this time in history. God has pronounced His covenant name and through His sovereign power has delivered His people from the bondage, slavery, and oppression of the Egyptians. Israel has journeyed through the wilderness and shown their continued problem with sin even after they were delivered by God. Now Israel stands ready to receive the law as God’s covenant people and learn how to obey and worship the LORD their Savior.
Israel, has been chosen by God as His people. God has then delivered them from Egypt so that all would know that the LORD is God (Exodus 10:2). Now Israel needs direction. If they are God’s chosen people, delivered from their captors, how should they now live? They should live to please God (1 Thessalonians 4:1). And in these sections God begins to reveal to them how they can please Him through obedience in worship and every day life.
Due to the amount of material the outline will be brief and I will try to comment in it on areas I cannot otherwise comment on.
- God brings Israel to Sinai (19:1-8)
- Sign to Moses fulfilled from Exodus 3:12
- They have seen His deliverance and now must obey and keep the covenant (19:3-6).
- The people agree (19:7-8).
- The LORD comes to His people (19:9-25)
- Preparation (19:9-15)
- The LORD comes – description of His coming and His warning highlight His holiness (19:16-25)
- The LORD speaks (20:1-17)
- “I am the LORD your God” – the LORD is already their God and Savior and these commands are based in that relationship (20:1-2)
- The Ten Commandments (20:3-17)
- The result of the LORD speaking – they are afraid of God but God tells them through Moses that they should not be afraid of who God is but of disobeying Him, Luke 12:4-7 and Psalm 130:4 (20:18-21)
- Brief laws for worship – God uses the opportunity to point to the primacy of worship and the warning against things like the upcoming golden calf (20:22-26)
- Case Law – legal systems accumulate rulings on cases (case law) that they use to determine future cases, God provides an inspired set (21:1-23:9)
- Slaves – this does not establish slavery like in the United States but more like indentured servants – working a certain number of years (v. 2) often to pay off debt. Also consider the whole teaching, so v. 21 has to include v. 26-27. Though the man is not charged with wrong-doing his slave still goes free (21:1-32).
- Restitution – payment for wrong-doing or negligence (21:33-22:15).
- Social Relationships – marriage, sorcery, bestiality, worship of other gods, sojourners, widows, the fatherless, etc. (22:16-23:9)
- The Sabbath, worship, and the three feasts (23:10-19)
- Promise to Conquor the Land and commands to guard against worshiping other gods (23:20-33).
- The people confirm the covenant. They will be obedient. They give sacrifices and Moses seals the covenants with blood (24:1-8).
- Moses, the priests, and the elders see God (24:9-11)
- Moses goes up on the mountain for 40 days to receive the tablets (24:12-18).
Hopefully the comments in the outline help more than they cause questions. The two things I’ll briefly comment on are thrust of this section: the basis of the Ten Commandments and the Ten Commandments. As I noted above God prefaces the Ten Commandments with a statement of His relationship with Israel. They are already His people and He is already their God. Those who trusted God for His deliverance from Egypt and looked forward to future salvation (fulfilled in Christ) were truly His people. This goes back to salvation by faith alone by God’s grace alone. The people were not saved because they obeyed the Ten Commandments. God saved them because He had graciously chosen them and saved them out of their oppression. Abraham did not choose to be the fountain head of God’s people by his own work but he did believe God when God told him he would be that fountain head.
The Ten Commandments are extremely important though. They were not optional. Just because the people were saved from Egypt did not mean that they could now do whatever they wanted. God saved them for His own glory and He intended His people to display His glory by living lives that pleased God. There are two very important New Testament verses to look at quickly. First, James 2:17 reads “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Many people mean many different things when they say “faith.” James explains that there is one type of faith that is dead – faith that does not have obedience to Christ as its result. True faith, James says, results in obedience to God. The second verse is Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Paul reaches the same point James did. After Paul explained salvation by grace (Ephesians 2:1-9) he continued with the necessary consequence – obedience, doing good works which God created and put in place especially for us. God has saved us out of misery, death, and hell by Jesus Christ and deserves our worship and praise at every point of our lives so let us seek diligently after what pleases Him and do it for that is what He has purposed and intended – His glory to be shown through His sufficiency to provide all things through Christ Jesus our Lord!