Kevin DeYoung / Aug 28, 2016 / Exodus 19:7-15
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Sermon Summary / Transcript
Let’s pray. O Lord, you are high and lifted up. We come before you in meekness and humility. Give me grace to speak your word clearly in Spirit and in truth. Make your people a receptive audience for your word. We pray now for your help, that we might have ears to hear, hearts to feel, minds to understand, feet to follow, and wills to obey. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Our regular practice at this church is to move verse-by-verse through books of the Bible, so that we can get a sense for what God is saying in each book; so that he sets the agenda, not the elders; and so that we get a sense for the whole counsel of God. We’ve been working through Exodus since last August, and we’re now in Exodus 19.
We may have visitors this week. We’re very glad that you’re here. We know that new people are moving into town to teach or take classes, so we’ll have visitors here this well on into the Fall. Let me give you a 90-second update on where we are in Exodus.
Genesis is the book where God creates the heavens and the earth. Then there’s a rebellion against him, and sin enters into the world. But God has a plan to redeem his people. He starts with Abraham, making promises that he’ll bless him and everyone who blesses him. But by the end of the book, Abraham’s family—Isaac, Jacob, and all of Jacob’s sons—find themselves in Egypt, because there is a famine in their own land, and they went there for food.
Then we turn to Exodus. Once we get there, we see that the Pharaoh (the king and ruler of Egypt) had been favorably disposed to the Israelites because of Joseph, who had gone there ahead of them. But then that Pharaoh died and another one came to power. He didn’t remember Joseph or know these people. He didn’t want to do them any favors, so he made them slaves. For 400 years, they were slaves in Egypt.
The book of Exodus is the story of those people crying out to God in the midst of their oppression. God hears, sees, remembers, and knows. He sends Moses to be a deliverer for the people. Through the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart and the unveiling of God’s glory through the 10 plagues, Pharaoh finally lets them go—then changes his mind and chases them into the Red Sea. This is a bad idea for Pharaoh. The sea opens. The sea closes. The Egyptians are swallowed up, and the Israelites are delivered.
But that’s not the end of the book. It’s not just about being saved from Egypt, but of what it means to follow this God of great power and wonder. Israel wanders here and there until they come to the foot of Mount Sinai here in Exodus 19:
So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”
When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” Exodus 19:7-15
Exodus is more than just a great story about God delivering his people. It’s also a story about a great God. As I’ve been saying all along, Exodus is about the God who makes himself known. But it’s also about the God who makes his law known, as we’ll see in the next few chapters. As we saw last week, these two things are right next to each other, yet not opposed to each other. Who is God, and who are we as his people? What does it mean for God to show himself to us? What does it look like when, in response, we follow this God?
We don’t know who God is in our day. If you’re a Christian and you’ve had good teaching in the church, you know who the Lord is, but the air that we breathe in this country is not going to reveal to us what he is really like. If you just listen to and follow the basic media, your friends, the music, and the movies, you’ll have some sense that there is probably a spiritual realm in the world. Most people are very spiritual, and are happy to believe in some greater power—maybe even angels or miracles.
In fact, I think we’ve seen a shift in our culture, even in the last couple generations. There are very militant atheists, for sure, but most people are happy to say, “There are all sorts of things that we don’t understand. There are mysteries. Maybe there are UFOs or Bigfoot. Maybe there is a God. We live in a strange world. A few people believe in a God. That seems to help them, so that’s fine!” But what your friend means by “God” and what the Bible means by it may be two very different things.
Most of you have probably seen the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz”. Many people have a conception of God that’s akin to “Oz, the great and powerful!” Almost everything that’s misconstrued there about the wizard of Oz is also misconstrued of God. Think about it: Dorothy and her companions are trying to make their way to the wonderful wizard of Oz and follow the yellow brick road. I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, but when they meet him, they are quaking—terrified—filled with fear. That may be an older view of God. I don’t think that many people still think of God in that way, but there are some who feel like that. You quake in fear, and you can’t even see him. If you say the wrong thing, you’re struck down. It has some similarities to here, except that this is a God who draws near in love, while that is a God who is distant and fills us with servile fear.
You also notice that they have to find the wizard of Oz. He resides in some far away city, and they have to go through many trials to make their way to him. That’s how we think: there is a God, up and out there, and it’s up to us to find our way to him. We have to knock on a lot of doors, work really hard, and finally get up the courage. When we get in there, then we finally meet the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.
If you remember the movie, he turns out to be anything but great and powerful. They think of him as this absolute, raw, impersonal power, but he turns out to be a fraud. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. In our culture, this is how many others have come to think of God: as a weak little man or woman out there, trying to pull the strings behind the curtain. We find our way to him, but it’s all a charade, deserving of our rebuke. Remember how Dorothy rebukes him: “Shame on you! You scared my little dog!” Some of us approach God with that same sense of authority over him: “Shame on you, God. You’re doing all of these bad things in the world. All of these people are suffering.”
I don’t know if the movie was trying to depict the divine being in any way, but it’s a convenient metaphor for the different ways in which you may understand God: either as this raw, impersonal power; as this being whom you need to find your way to and work really hard to encounter; or as a weak, sniveling fraud.
Who is the real God? Let me give you two statements, both of which are absolutely necessary if we’re to understand what God is like according to the Bible: our God is a God who condescends in coming near to us—but we must never be casual in coming near to him.
Let me define those terms. First, the word “condescend”. When you hear the word “condescend”, you think of someone who’s patronizing, who looks down his nose at people, is critical, and puts others down. That’s not what is meant here. “Descend” means “to lower”. “Condescend” means “to be lowered with”. When I say that God condescends in coming near to us, I mean that he stoops down, descends, lowers himself, and takes a place that is far below the level of his own importance to be near to us.
What do I mean by “casual”? I don’t mean informal, as in the sort of clothes you might wear. Rather, I mean “careless”, “offhand”, “without serious intention”, “indifferent”, “apathetic”, “unconcerned”, “flippant”, and “nonchalant”. Thank you, thesaurus! Take any of those words, and that’s what I mean. We must not be casual in coming to him. When he condescends, stooping down to draw near to us, we must not be indifferent. We must not proceed to him without seriousness of intention. We must not be flippant or nonchalant in approaching this God. We see both of these things clearly in Exodus 19. Let’s look at them and see how they are supported by these verses.
A God who Condescends
First, our God is a God who condescends in coming near to us. How does he condescend? First of all, he speaks to Moses, and through Moses to the people. We’re so familiar with this. We have a Bible. We refer to it as God’s word. We scarcely stop to think about what a miracle of condescension it is that God would see fit to speak to us. Why should he say anything to us? He could justly sit removed from us in heaven and punish us when we fail to follow his commands. But he speaks.
I’ve given this little illustration before, but it bears repeating. Some of you have heard of the poem about the six blind men and the elephant. One blind man touches the side of the elephant and says, “It’s a wall.” Another one grabs the trunk and says, “It’s a rope.” Another one grabs the ear of the elephant and says, “It’s a fan,” and on and on. The point of the poem is that that’s what we’re like with God. We are all just blind men, groping around on an elephant. We all think that we know what we’re touching, but we’re all blind. And the point is, “Would you just relax? You may have a little sense of who God is, and another religion may have another sense, but it’s all just blind people with an elephant.”
But see how diametrically opposed that is to the God of the Bible! Here’s why: our elephant speaks! We are blind, but the elephant speaks to us and says, “I’m an elephant.” You may say, “Well, I think you’re a peacock.” Someone else may say, “I think you’re a paradox!” And he says, “I’m an elephant.” Then you say, “Well, if we’re really humble, we’ll just call him a mystery.” “I’m an elephant!” Are you humble in refusing to recognize the elephant, or are you hard of hearing? We have a God who speaks to us.
Remember when Paul goes into Athens in Acts 17? What does he see there? A statue to an unknown god! Some people act as if that’s real religion: “An unknown god?! That’s who we all worship! We’re all blind! We don’t really know! We just hedge our bets. Here’s a statue of an unknown god, because we don’t know what God is like. This just covers our bases!” That’s not biblical Christianity! Paul says, “What you worship as unknown, I will declare to you!” God has spoken! He condescends to communicate with us!
We also see here that God supports. He supports Moses by providing a response to the problem that Moses raised in Exodus 4:1: “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” “Okay, YHWH. I’m going to these people, but there’s one big problem: you’re invisible! I can’t just say, ‘Here’s YHWH! We’re tight. I’m with him!” So YHWH says, “I will speak. I am invisible, and I will not show myself except in cloud, thunder, peals of lightning, and rumblings. But I will speak!” So he speaks to Moses, in the people’s hearing, that they might rightly conclude that this man was a spokesman for God.
It makes you think of the voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” It’s a word of authentication: “This man is with me, I am with him, and he speaks on my behalf.” The God of the universe condescends, not only to speak to Moses and the people, but to get Moses’ back and say, “Listen to him!”
Incidentally—or not so incidentally—we see here what the role of the pastor, preacher, and prophet (to use the Old Testament language) is. Moses’ role was to only say what God had said, and the people were to listen to him as he spoke that word as if they were listening to God himself. It’s not so that Moses, or the preacher, can have a big head. It’s because of what we believe about God and his condescension in being willing to speak to us!
If you’re looking for a church and find another church—and there are other good churches—make sure you find a place where the preacher is speaking only what God has spoken—not upon his authority, but upon the authority of this Word—and that you find a people who come, Sunday after Sunday, not to hear the latest ramblings or theories, but eager to listen to God!
One theologian put it this way: “If the mightiest of prophets, Moses, obtained credit in the church on no other grounds than because he bore the commands of God and only taught what he had heard, how foolish and impudent will it be in teachers who sink down far beneath him to endeavor to attain a higher point.” In other words, if Moses, this great leader and prophet, had his authority only insofar as he spoke what God spoke, how will all of us lesser preachers (far below Moses) attain to his height by any other means?
God doesn’t just speak and support. He shows up. Verse 11: “…and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” “I thought God was invisible.” He is, so whenever you have these “theophanies”—a word that means “a God appearing”—it’s not God like a statue, or as we look at one another—at least until we come to Christ. A theophany is as a cloud, or the pictures in Revelation of lightning, flame, river, and rainbow. It’s an appearance of God that they might see him insofar as they hear from him.
Now you notice the language. He comes down. The worship of a holy God is only made possible by his coming down, not by our climbing up. He must come down to the people. That’s why I said that he condescends.
Remember the story of the Tower of Babel? The people of the nations come together and say, “We’re going to build a tower up into heaven! We’re going to reach up to God. He’ll be impressed!” Isn’t that a metaphor for the world in every age? Some people misread this story and think that it presents God as a weak character because he seems to be up in heaven, really scrambling: “Oh, no! What are they going to do? I better blow this whole thing up.” As I pointed out before, this is an ironic statement. As all the great peoples of the earth build this tower up to God, it says that God came down to look at it. It wasn’t quite making it to heaven. He had to look over the clouds and say, “What are they doing down there? Look at those busy little ants. That’s funny.”
We cannot climb up to God. He must condescend and come down to us. This is the great story of the people of Israel. Later in the book of Exodus, we’ll see the building of the tabernacle. Let’s be honest: those are what we find to be the really boring chapters in Exodus. “Okay, there are more skins. How long did it take to build this thing? Don’t they have a pop-up tent or something?” Of course, they understood what we often miss: this was a representation of the house of God. The tabernacle (and later the temple) was symbolically representing God Almighty dwelling in the midst of the camp. “How can this be—that God would come and live among us?”
Imagine a famous, rich person. You insert whoever that would be. You’d just be absolutely floored if this person moved in next to you. Tom Izzo. Taylor Swift. That would be a distracting paparazzi. I think Kevin McKelvey is looking for a house. If they moved in, you’d wonder why this person, who has everything—some rich and famous athlete, movie star, or rock star—moved into your humble neighborhood next door.
We may be able to conceive of someone powerful drawing close to us, but isn’t it almost always because they’re after something? Politicians, presidents, or great wealthy benefactors may come to you, but why? They shake hands and dwell among you for a time so that someone might take a photograph. That looks good. Every presidential candidate in the history of the world, it seems, has always had a photograph with people in hard hats standing behind them. “Look at that. He’s just a regular person working on the construction site.” You can get that photograph, or your business can have a good marketing strategy: “Look at the good we’re doing in the community. Here we are with people less fortunate than ourselves.”
But God needs none of that. He’s not running for office. He doesn’t need a PR spin machine. He’s not looking for a photo op or attempting a marketing ploy. He is God. He needs nothing. Yet he condescends to be near to us. He draws near to us, because he is our God and we are his people. From the very beginning in the garden, before the fall, Adam was walking with God in the cool of the garden. There was intimacy in this conversation, this speech, this relationship. It makes sense that the covenant promise is always, “And I will be a God to you and your children after you. I will be your God and you will be my people.” The king of all the earth, who has everything, owns everything, and needs nothing has us for his treasured possession. The theological term is “eminence”. We have a God who draws near, who is close—who is not some abstract, impersonal force, or just raw power in heaven, and is not just absolute will, but is a personal God who condescends, stoops down, and lisps to us that we might understand. He draws near to an undeserving people. He speaks. He supports. He shows up.
Our Approach to God
We have a God who condescends in coming near us, but we must never be casual in coming near him. Let me reiterate: “casual” is not talking about attire so much as attitude. What should you wear to church? Whatever would reflect an attitude of humility, joy, and reverence within your cultural context. Figure it out. We’re not talking so much about attire—though that’s a symbol of it here, as they wash their clothes—as we are about an attitude. Here’s what Ecclesiastes says:
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
Let me say something to the kids here. I have kids as well. Kids, when you are praying, or Mom and Dad are praying, or you’re in church, it can seem really long and boring sometimes, and you get distracted. That’s because you’re human and because you’re five or fifteen. You know what? It happens to us even when we’re almost 40. So that’s okay, but would you, as much as you can—knowing that you’re going to be fidgety and tired—think about the fact that you are coming to God Almighty when you or your Mom and Dad are praying?
You know how you fold your hands when you pray? The Bible doesn’t say that you have to fold your hands to pray. Basically, that’s Mom and Dad’s way of saying, “Don’t hit each other.” You also don’t have to close your eyes when you pray. But close your eyes if it helps you not to be so distracted with everything else around you. It’s just a posture that says that what we are doing now is serious business. We cannot come flippantly to this God, because he is holy. We come with reverence and great honor, that we may be privileged to speak to him.
We must ask ourselves as we come into God’s presence around the dinner table—and especially when we come to corporate worship—if we imagine ourselves entering a living room or a throne room? Of course, there is an argument you could make for both. Our heavenly Father is intimate, compassionate, and loves us. There is a sense of relationship. But he is a sovereign king. Aslan is not a safe or tame lion.
The seriousness of being in God’s presence is indicated here by three signs. First, we see the cloud in verse 9. There is a certain mystery about him that we cannot fully penetrate. He will speak to us, and we can know this God, but we cannot know him exhaustively. Sometimes, we want to peer into ineffable things that are not for us to finally understand. It may be an expression of longing for unlawful knowledge. But we cannot capture the cloud. Deuteronomy 29:29 says that the secret things belong to God, but the things he has revealed to us belong to us and to our children forever. There are things that God has revealed to us that he wants us to know, and then there is the “Godness” of God, which no human mind can ever fully penetrate.
The second sign that we see is this distance in verse 12. “Set limits for the people.” You don’t just barge your way up the mountain: “Hey, God’s coming up the mountain! First one up gets a prize! Beat you there!” There’s a certain distance.
The third sign is the most grave of them all: death. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. Do you see verse 13? “No hand shall touch him…” This one who breaks into the mountain of God is o irreverent that you may not even touch him. He is to be killed with stones, and shot—not with a gun, obviously, but with an arrow.
This is not the only time we hear of this in the Bible. Think of Uzzah, in 1 Chronicles 13, there with the Lord. The Ark is wobbling, and he puts out his hand to steady it. You always scratch your head and say, “And God struck him dead? He killed him? He was just trying to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling on the ground.” Number one: as one of the priestly order, he knew better. He understood the restrictions placed upon him. It was not just an honest mistake. The second thing—I love this—is something I’ve heard from R.C. Sproul a number of times: “The fault of Uzzah in grabbing the ark was to think that his hand would somehow be holier than the ground on which the Ark would fall.”
Nadab and Abihu, in Leviticus 10, offer unauthorized fire to the Lord, and he strikes them dead. If you break into the mountain, past the limits set for you, and touch that mountain with the presence of God descending, you die. You may think, “I don’t know if I like this God. This is too harsh. This is medieval.” It’s actually older than that. But listen, friends. This is meant to reorient our world. These are the kinds of passages where you reach a crossroad: “Okay, am I going to force the Bible to conform to what I think God should be like, or will I allow my way of viewing the world to be shaped by what I see about God in the Bible?”
Every single one of us in this room, without fail, is presently underestimating the holiness of God. All of us have underestimated it. He is not a God to be trifled with. If you don’t have passages like this, you will not have the right conception of him. He’s in a cloud, with set limits at a distance. If you touch the mountain, you die. Some things are holy.
I’m sure some of you are playing (and have children who are playing Pokémon Go). Basically, you have a phone and you capture imaginary creatures, as I understand. You’ve heard reports about people playing this game with their phone. It gets you walking, and it’s a fun game, I guess. You’ll have to ask Pastor Jason what it’s really about. I don’t know. But you’ve also heard reports of people playing Pokémon Go outside the Holocaust Museum. They’re having to say, “This isn’t a place for that. There is a place for finding Pikachu, but this is a sacred place. This is set apart. There is something here that’s set apart from ordinary life.”
Jason and I went on a series of retreats this week. The first was a staff retreat up near Cadillac, which was great fun. Then we came back and went on a retreat with half a dozen PCA pastors to spend some time together. We just got back last night. What do a bunch of PCA pastors do? We went on a tour of Gettysburg, because we’re nerds. It was too far to get to Geneva on such short notice.
When we were at Gettysburg, and we went on a tour. Of course, Abraham Lincoln (in the Gettysburg Address) referred to that as hallowed ground. Before I went, I thought, “Well, I’ll get an illustration here.” You can’t do all of these trips without an illustration. “I’ll use the illustration that we were at Gettysburg, and it’s hallowed ground. You don’t make a lot of noise there, because there is a sense of otherness and holiness.” That’s what I thought my illustration would be. But I can’t say that, because that’s not what we did. The guys were getting together, trying to talk and have fun. For better or worse, even when we were at the most famous moments—Little Round Top, Pickett’s Charge, or whatever—there was laughter, joking, talking, and conversation.
Whether that is proper or not, some Civil War historian can inform me. But here’s what I do know: they would not have done that in 1863. The soldiers on either side, visiting the battlefield (as they often did in the years following), would not have done so. Even the things that are most profound and momentous, which seem most sacred, become familiar to us over time. It’s the way in which someone of my generation or older might remember 9/11, while many people here barely remember it at all. It won’t be long before we have college students who weren’t even alive when that happened. It will fade, just as D-Day and Pearl Harbor did.
So it is with God. There is a familiarity, ease, and comfort. We forget that whenever we are with God, we are standing on holy ground. We are in the presence of our King and Creator! We must be consecrated. Psalm 24: “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” 2 Corinthians 7:1: “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
Moses was to consecrate them—to set them apart and make them ready—because God was visiting. When your friends, your in-laws, or your pastor come by, you get things ready. How much more so when God is going to come and visit? He says, “You must wash your garments as a symbol of purity and consecration.” This was not a simple thing. They couldn’t just go to the basement and throw it in the washer and drier. The only water source around might still be that gushing rock from Massah and Meribah. It might take 2 full days for 2 million people to go through and wash their clothes!
Then, in verse 15, they have to abstain from sex. It’s not that sex is bad or defiling, but it’s the same idea found in 1 Corinthians 7:5: for a time, that you may focus, you practice this self-denial, and you devote yourselves to prayer or special attention. In other words, they were to keep themselves from what was objectionable and from what would distract them. They were to have a period of renunciation, focus, and self-denial, because God was coming down. We see the seriousness of dealing with the divine! In these passages, we see this great mystery which is all through the Bible: a God who is at the same time frightening and fascinating, dangerous and delightful, holy and happy. That’s this God.
As I read in one book, it’s like sky-diving, rock-climbing, bungee-jumping, swimming with sharks—I don’t know who does that—riding a roller-coaster, or going down some steep water ride. For Ian’s birthday, we went to one of the water parks in Frankenmuth. They had one space-age looking chute with a 10- or 15-foot free-fall drop before you’d snake around. There was almost no one in line for it, because everyone was chicken. They were all at the big inner-tube slide.
So we were up there—and this was very fearful. They opened it up, and you’d walk in and see the spot in the floor that is going to give out. They closed the door, and everyone around is just looking at you. I did see one guy get out. It’s hard to do that without a shameful face. Then you’d hear this lady who sounds like Siri with a British accent: “Launch in 3, 2, 1.”
I was up there with my sons (of course), and I said, “Ian, are you going to ride on it?” “Yeah!” “Want to go first?” “Nah, you want to go first?” I wanted to make sure that I could get down there in case anything happened, so he went first. There’s a sense of “this is fascinating”, “this is frightening”, “I want to do this”, “I don’t want to do this”, “the floor is going to fall out and it’s going to be exhilarating”, and “I don’t want to do it”—all at the same time.
You get that sense when God visits his people. There is an attraction and a fear—a fascination and a danger. This is a God whom you want to be by you. You want to know and experience him—not too casually or quickly, though, because this is the God of the universe. Imagine how these boundaries and this danger would have made friends and relatives vigilant. “Careful, son! Do you think going out into the street is dangerous? Try Mount Sinai! Not so close! Back up!” Over time, they would have learned to embrace, by these precautions, their own smallness and unworthiness. They would come to appreciate their privileged position as the only people to whom God had chosen to reveal himself.
At the same time, they would think: “Why has this God dwelt with us? If we touch the mountain, we die.” Yet they must have wondered, “Why has this God come to dwell with us?” You see here in the text that, with all the danger, they could approach. There was a way. The answer to the problem of a dangerous God is not to flee, but to come close carefully.
I want you to notice one other thing in verse 11, in closing. You have to be thinking, “How do we come close to this holy God?” Yes, you wash your clothes. That will be good for a visit to the cloud. You focus yourself. You deny yourself. You put away sexual relations for a time. That’s a symbolic representation. How can you stay there, and how can he stay with you? There must be someone who can lay a hand on both of you. God must make a way.
Verse 11: “…be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down…” To be fair, the phrase “the third day” occurs some 30 times in the Bible, but you don’t have an experience like this in your history without every bit of it being etched in your memory. When you read this story and rehearse it to your children—“Remember the time when God visited us on Mt. Sinai?”—you would surely remember these instructions.
Moses said, “Be ready for the third day. People of God, I want you to be ready. You may have fear. You may wonder who this God is. But the third day is coming. On that day, you will meet him.” Surely, those first century Jewish Christians, once they had their minds opened to understand what Jesus was saying, could not help but make a connection with the third day. “We were told by Moses, ‘Three days and he will come down.’ Now we are told by Jesus, ‘Three days and I will rise up and come out.’”
The transcendence and eminence of God find their fullest expression in the incarnation.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel. Charles Wesley – Hark the Herald Angels Sing
God is with us. He comes near in Christ, and we draw near through Christ—the one Mediator to lay a hand on us both. Only in Christ do we find the one who made the mountain quake, who will come and weep for his friend Lazarus, and finally lay down his life for the sheep. Brothers and sisters, do you know who God is? Do you know how he comes near? Do you know how to draw near to him? It’s only in Christ.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we thank you for condescending to speak to us, visit us, and ultimately send your Son to be one of us, live among us, and tabernacle in our neighborhood—the holy one of Israel as a humble carpenter; the mountain of God moving in next door. We come to you and draw near to you only because you have first drawn near to us in Jesus. In his name we pray, amen.
Transcribed and edited by 10:17 Transcription