Recorded on November 25th, 2018
We all are going to serve something in our lives – money, power, sex… God invited us (like the Israelites,) to serve obediently. Obedience is not oppression. When you obey God, you are blessed.
Transcript of Sermon:
Our scripture today comes from Exodus 40 verses 34 to 38 then the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud has settled on it and the Valarie of the Lord filled the tabernacle in all the travels of the Israelites whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle they would set out but if the cloud did not lift they did not set out until the day it lifted so the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day and fire was in the cloud by night in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels and this is the Word of God for the people of God and all God’s people say thanks be to God right now you got to take your baby that’s beautiful so about a few summers ago Joe and I were walking along the beach and the tide was rolling out and there we walked by a little pool in the sand and in this little pool that was so far from the tide we knew the tide was never gonna reach it again there were some sea creatures and I think they were some type of fish but honestly I don’t know so I’m just gonna say Steve creatures and you can use your imagination to fill in the rest but I said to joy I said you know those are gonna die if they don’t get back in the ocean and I don’t like sea creatures that can be touched so I asked Joe because he’s the man in the relationship if he would kindly get all these little sea creatures and throw them back into the sea and you don’t see Joe doing a celebration because I just said he’s the man who relationship yes yes I know and so he does he puts his hand in the water and he tries to get these little creatures and put him back in the sea and every time he sticks his hand in the water the sea creatures go every which way they can to get as far away as possible from the hand that is trying to save them now they don’t know that that’s what’s happening there sea creatures they don’t know that if this doesn’t happen that they will likely die they don’t know that this chaos and confusion that’s entering their world is actually the most important thing that can be happening to them right in that space and time all they know is what is normal for them and this is not normal and so they are going to scatter and I knew in that minute this was years ago that I would use this in a sermon because I think God was speaking directly to me because there are times in my life when I feel like something strange is going on something uncomfortable is happening there’s a lot of events happening that make me really frustrated there’s things that need to change that aren’t changing and I’m scattering to the four winds of the earth because I don’t like what the oppression that’s happening to me in that moment and I think we all do that I think when life takes a turn that were uncertain about when God asks us to step towards something that we don’t think we’re capable of doing we tend to turn from the thing that’s actually there to save us to help us and this is where we find the Israelites as we end our series on Exodus we’ve spent the last five weeks looking at Exodus trying to understand what we are to learn now I told you that I think it’s one of the most important books of the Bible that if you took the New Testament and only one book from the Old Testament that Exodus might need to be that book because the purpose of Exodus what we find in Exodus is the first real deep revelation about who this god of the Israelites is and as we understand the god of the Israelites we understand our God the God that cares for in loves you and I as we’ve looked over the weeks we saw how in the very beginning of Exodus God appears to Moses and we learned from that that God chooses to do his work on this earth through humankind that when were frustrated that the change that we think should be happening in this world isn’t happening and we wonder why God isn’t doing what he should be doing what we really should be looking at is each other and wondering how we’re not stepping into the space that God has called us into in our life because God works through human agents to change the world we’ve also looked at how the big narrative of Exodus is showing that God is who he says he is and God can do what God says God will do that this time in this context that the Israelites lived in was full of Egyptian gods little G gods once who made lots of promises but never followed through and so through the plagues and through the Passover and through the crossing of the Red Sea God showed Israel and the entire nation of Egypt who God is and what God is capable of and then last week we looked at the celebration in Exodus 15 the song of the sea where the Israelites celebrated all of the work that God did and we looked at the liturgy all of those things and instructions that seemed so detailed and we want our Glatt our eyes kind of glaze over when we read them because it doesn’t seem to make sense to us but what we learned is that rhythm matters God created you and I creatures in this entire earth to have a specific rhythm the seasons of life happen and rhythm in our lives should happen in a specific rhythm and if we want to grow in God we need to learn to set aside some holy days not just holidays that we may Center our lives in him now today I feel a little guilty about this that only a little we’re going to take the whole second half of Exodus and do it one day when we spent four days doing the beginning of Exodus which it doesn’t say that the second part is less important but it kind of can be taken together in a package because what happens between exodus 16 and the end in Exodus 40 which is what Margie just read for us is a lot of things that if we read it word by word your eyes may glaze over so I’m going to tell you the story of the Israelites in the second part of Exodus I’m going to talk to you about what God is trying to show them and we’re going to learn not only does Exodus tell us about who God is Exodus teaches us a little bit about the Israelites and thus a little bit about ourselves and how we can do a better job of connecting to what God is wanting to do in our lives as I get started into the word let us pray God I thank you for this opportunity to share your word may the words that come from may be only yours and not mine may we leave today knowing you better read and better able and ready to serve you god help us hear you specifically and individually in this moment thank you lord amen okay so you ready we’re going to go through 25 chapters of Scripture in five minutes now so in Exodus 16 through 25 what you see is that Israelites wandering through the desert they’ve crossed through the Red Sea and now they are wandering and every day God provides food and water for them food that is not found naturally but food that is actually physically provided by God himself and the Israelites know that that is exactly what is happening and then verses 25 through 31 you have actually a little bit before that at the end of 25 24 Moses goes up and receives the Ten Commandments at the Mount Sinai so they wander and they end up camping around Mount Sinai and Moses goes up and receives the Ten Commandments and he comes down and he shares those Commandments with the Israelites and the Israelites hear the Word of God and they say yes yes God we will be your people we will follow this plan Moses goes back up the mountain and we’re told and this is 25 through 31 that Moses is there for forty days and forty nights that’s the longest time that Moses left the Israelites and during this time excuse me mm-hmm sorry – during this time Moses is receiving very specific instructions on how to construct the tabernacle this is six chapters of Exodus chapters about what kind of wood what color of linens all of that over six chapters and I have often over time wondered why is that so important because it’s hard for me to read and stay engaged because I just Joe has a very visual mind I do not I have a very little oral mine I need you to paint me an actual picture not one on paper not written with words I need to see it and I’ve often wondered why it’s so important that every little detail is so specific and that six chapters of one book is taking up written about the tabernacle well during this time while Moses is gone for 40 days and 40 nights something that you might have heard of before happens the golden calf happens you see Moses is gone and the Israelites start to get nervous because the Israelites have gotten used to Moses being their mediator with God Moses being the physical representation of the fact that God is with them that they are God’s people and they start to get nervous they start to get anxious they start to really in our words freaked out and said say to Aaron Moses’s brother they say Aaron we need you to fix this and since we’re smart we know how to fix this we need something to worship we need something to praise we need something to thank for getting us out of slavery so Aaron asks them for all of their gold and he melts the gold and he constructs a golden calf and it’s as soon as it’s done being constructed the Israelite speaking singing and worshipping to this golden calf literally as if the calf had been the reason why they were out of slavery the reason why they were fed in the wilderness the reason why they were where they are today forty days Moses was gone forty days and they got so nervous but if we think about it I like to judge the Israelites because I feel like I’m not as bad as they are but in reality I really am because the minute I feel God’s presence not as near to me as I want it to be I start to freak out a little bit I start to wonder am i doing something wrong I start to wonder should I be doing something different and then I start making plans do you ever do this do you ever try and fix all the problems that you see that God probably is God supposed to do this or is he waiting for me to do something about this because I know that if I did one two three and four this would all be better well that’s what the Israelites did they did one two three and four and they started worshiping a golden calf God tells at the end of the instructions about the tabernacle that he needs to get himself on down that mountain because his people have done something really wrong God’s angry Moses is angry Moses goes down and gives them a big what for and I mean the biggest parental what-for of all time and the people receive it and they hear it and they’re contrite but God is still a little bit upset and God says I’m gonna send an angel to go with you as you go on in the wilderness because I don’t know that I can be trusted to be with you right now I felt like that with my kids have you ever felt like that with your kids you need a timeout God has given himself a timeout but the Israelites begged and pleaded because they couldn’t imagine going forward without god godself being with them granted these were the people who just a few minutes ago we’re making a golden calf because anything can replace God apparently but God hears their cries and God of the Old Testament the one that people want you to believe is all about fire and brimstone forgives them and love and so then he renews the covenant with them and the Israelites agree to step into that covenant with him again and then you find in chapter 35 through 39 four more chapters Moses going back up the mountain actually I’d like to you four more chapters of the Israelites actually putting the tabernacle together so 10 chapters are spent all about this tabernacle and the specific instructions that are to go with putting the tabernacle together and then at the very end the moment it’s finished we reached the place where Margie read to us today the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle Moses could not enter the tented meeting because the cloud had settled on it and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle and all the travels of the Israelites whenever the cloud lifted from the tabernacle they would set out but when the cloud did not lift they did not set out and the tell the day it lifted so the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day and fire was in the cloud by night in the sight of all the Israelites during their travels so the question is what should we understand what do we mean it to know today given this journey that the Israelites come on part of what we need to understand is that the Israelites were rescued from slavery to service because God knows that humanity is going to serve something it’s part of who we are as a group of people so when God rescued Egypt or Israel from Egypt from forced slavery from forced worship to Pharaoh he invited them into a choice to choose to serve and to choose to worship Him you see Exodus is not just about God rescuing Egypt excess is not just about God revealing who God is Exodus is also about telling us how you and I work because the reality is is that we are going to serve something in our lives if it’s not God it’s going to be something else and in this world in today’s context some of us choose to serve money some of us choose to serve and worship at the feet of power some of us choose to serve and worship at the feet of indulgence maybe food or alcohol some of us choose to serve worship at the feet of happiness chasing it wherever we can find it and then there’s those of us who willfully choose to serve and worship at the feet of God all those chapters spent outlining detail by detail that construction and then the building of the tabernacle show us that obedience cannot just be kind of sort of in a way obedience obedience has to be very clear and step-by-step exactly what God asks because given a little bit of an inch you and I will take a yard and we’ll take that which God has put before us as the best for us and we’ll tweak it just a little bit so that we get kind of what we want and kind of what he asks for and we make this whole new thing we make a golden calf and we serve that thinking we’re serving God but we’re not because we’ve decided to make our own truth we’ve decided to make our own way and as we’ve talked about before obedience is not an oppression it’s not a hand reaching down into the water and you should scatter everywhere when God asks something of you when God shows you the way forward when you walk that direction you are blessed and you find peace and you find strength and you find provision for every step of the way but when you go your own way when you build your own worship their struggle in every direction you see obedience isn’t oppression it is simply God’s invitation for his best for us if you want to live your best life you simply say yes to whatever it is that God is asking you and then trust along the way because the reality is just like the Israelites when we leave the slavery that we have experienced to sin and brokenness in this world when we accept Christ into our life we leave behind the comfort that we know just like the Israelites so many times when they lost faith in the monent moment they would cry out to Moses and complain saying you brought us out here to suffer when we could have at least suffered under something that we knew and understand these people had seen the work of God in a way that most of us would die to see yet they still lost faith and what the Israelites didn’t really want to come to terms with and what I think you and I have a hard time coming to terms with is that when we step away from the bad stuff that we know it’s hard even though we’re leaving behind a life that isn’t has been difficult without God and stepping into one that will be better with God it’s hard to leave the dysfunction that we know sometimes and the truth is that as believers we are sojourners we will always be Wanderers because God doesn’t give us the road map and I know many of you have talked to me and I’ve talked to you about wanting that Moute road map so badly just knowing exactly where you’re supposed to go and how you’re supposed to get there but as we follow God we’re soldier nurse we’re Wanderers we’re simply being obedient step-by-step and that’s all we can do one step at a time but the promise that we find here in Exodus and throughout Scripture is that as we go step by step one step at a time the glory of the Lord goes with us no other God in this world is going to follow you through every step of your life there is no thing that you can seek after in this world that will give you the peace and the strength in every moment of your wandering when God filled the tabernacle God came down from the mountain to dwell among the Israelites and were said at the very end it says in the sight of all the Israelites during our whole their travels so that never again would they feel left behind never again would Moses walk away and they would wonder where God was because he would be in their sight during all their travels and the truth is the same for you and I though we don’t are not allowed a road map we don’t always know exactly where God is leading but what you know if we follow his instructions specifically we will be blessed and he will be with us step by step step by scary steps sometimes next week we get the opportunity to start Advent the time and space where God takes this dwelling with us to a whole nother level we’re in the birth of Jesus instead of God being with us in a cloud of fire God comes with us in a form of a human man and as we prepare ourselves for this season our to do for this week is to pray seriously asking God what exactly you need to be doing to be obedient to him right now in this season of life there may be a lot of things you think you need to change in your life and I encourage you not to do that right now because we can’t do it all but there’s a path there’s a next step that God has for us but we can’t just guess at it we can’t just think oh I think that’s what God’s asking me to do we have to stop we have to be still and we need to listen and the next week as we start to expect the hope of the coming of Immanuel God with us we will seek God in a glory seek God’s glory as we look for the Kurds to step towards him in obedience we don’t want to be those fish we don’t want to be those creatures who think that oppression is being put on them and died in the process of trying to get trying to fix something their selves we’re children of God loved by God created by God provided for by God Navy learn to rest in God let’s pray God I thank you so much for today I thank you for your word god there’s so much in us I think that we all want to change so much about ourselves but as we come to you this week with humble hearts open and willing would you please show us very clearly where it is you would like us to be obedient in this season of life and I know we probably won’t get every step in the process but would you please show us what that next step is and that as we’re obedient our lights radiantly shine to those around us so that your glory can be seen in this world