For My Own Good

For My Own Good
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
March 4th, 2018
Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash


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For My Own Good
Exodus 19,20 & 32

This week in our series of reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, we pick up with the beginning of the Israelite’s 40 year journey in the desert.  It is about 3 months after the crossing of the Red Sea and at this point, they no longer have anyone chasing them, and they are in a little bit of a safe place. 

At this point we have to keep in mind that we aren’t  talking about just a couple of hundred or even a couple of thousand people, instead we are talking about approximately 2.4 million people (according to Gotquestions.org).  That’s a lot of people to be walking around the dessert.  And with that many people, there was definitely a need for some law, order and instruction.  So, God comes to Moses and He makes a covenant with them and then begins to give them laws to live by.

The Covenant
Before we talk about the laws, here is what we need to know about a covenant.  A covenant is more than just a promise.  A covenant is where two people make a promise to each other.  Kind of like a pact for lack of a better term, or some people call it a contract. In other words, this is not just a promise that God made to the Israelites, but the Israelites also made a promise to God.  And we find this covenant in Exodus 19.  Essentially this covenant says, if the Israelites will keep God’s covenant, then they will be His holy people.

The Israelites part of the covenant is:
God said: “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant”

And God’s part of the covenant is:
“you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’”

That’s a pretty special promise and one that is not made to all Christians.  But, God does offer a New Covenant to all people.

And we find it in John 3:16

John 3:16 for God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have ever lasting life.

We also find it in

John 11:25 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.

And in

John 1:12 - But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Honestly we could keep going, but we just don’t have the time…

But here is our part of the Covenant: We must believe IN Him.  And as a reminder, to believe IN him is more than just saying a prayer, but it is actively placing your faith and your actions in Him.
And if we accept this covenant, then His part of the covenant is that He promises us salvation and to be adopted as His children.  And this New Covenant that God offers us, is written in the blood of His only son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 22:20 - In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” [emphasis added]

In addition to salvation and becoming His children, this new covenant also means that we are living under grace and mercy and no longer under the law that He gave this Children of Israel.

The 10 commandments 
After God made a covenant with the Child of Israel, He then gives them the 10 commandments as well as a bunch of other laws.  The 10 commandments are found in Exodus 20:2-17.

Now, I realize that we just said that we no longer live under the law, but rather under grace and mercy…and now it seems we are getting ready to talk about the 10 commandments…So, let me explain 2 things:

1.  We do live under grace and mercy.  In other words, if we break one of the 10 commandments, we simply have to repent (turn from that sin) and then ask for forgiveness, and because of God’s grace and mercy, we are forgiven.

For the Israelites, they still lived under grace and mercy, but also by the law.  Meaning that if they broke one of the 10 commandments, there were sacrifices that had to be made and things they had to do, in order to seek God’s forgiveness.

2. There were different types of law back then, and we still live under 1 of them: the moral law.  The moral law is things like the 10 commandments, and the two greatest commandments.

However, the other laws such as dietary or ritualistic laws, we no longer live under.  Those laws were given to the Israelites to protect them and for their own good and do not apply to us.  However, the Moral law is written on our hearts, and therefore we still live under that law today.

Romans 2:15 confirms this for us “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this.”

So, God gave them all of these commands, among many others, and they agreed to them.  That was their part of the covenant. BUT, God did not give them all these rules, just because He likes to be a dictator.  Instead, God gave them rules, and order for their own good.  All of the laws were meant to protect them, and get them back on the track to being what He created them to be.

And the same is true for us… All of the things that the Bible tells us to do is not because God wants to control us, but instead it is because he wants to protect us and heal us.

Rules about Marriage, the 10 commandments, forgiveness and even those that govern our sexuality… all of these things are not given to us, because God doesn’t want us to have any fun, but instead they are given to us for our own good. To help heal us, to help restore us, and to help protect us.

Disobedience 
So, right after the Israelites agreed to this covenant and all the laws that God gave them, they almost immediately break that covenant in Exodus 32.  This is when, Moses goes back up on the Mountain, and God is giving him more instruction…

In the meantime here is what is happening back at the Israelite camp.

Exodus 32:2-10
Aaron replied to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the gold rings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf.
Then they said, “Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it and made an announcement: “There will be a festival to the Lord tomorrow.” 6 Early the next morning they arose, offered burnt offerings, and presented fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to party. 

At this point, God is angry with the Israelites and His anger burned against them to the point that He was going to destroy them and start again with Moses.  Fortunately, Moses pleaded with Him to let them live and they did.

Now what does this mean for us? Even though we live under grace and mercy and no under the law, I still think that God’s anger burns against us when we willfully and knowingly, sin against Him.  I believe just as a father’s anger would burn against a child who blatantly disobeyed a father, I believe God’s anger burns against us when we blatantly disobey Him.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love us.  We can love somebody and be mad at them at the same time. The truth is, it should worry us if God’s anger DOESN’T burn against us when we are knowingly disobedient, because that would mean He doesn’t care.

Unfortunately, many people have a fairy tale view of God who never gets angry but only says, “It’s okay, do whatever you want.  I love you.”  And while God does always love us, His love is what prevents Him from turning a blind eye to our sin.  He loves us too much to watch us hurt ourselves that way.

Have you made a covenant with God by believing IN Him?  
And if so, are you holding up your end of the covenant?


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