Faithlife Sermons

The Ruling God

The God Who Is  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:54
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God's rules are intended to move us beyond religion to seek Him for relationship.

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Friday evening our young men treated the hometown crowd to a wonderful evening of sport. At one point early in the game, one of the Bulldog players ran down the near sideline all the way to the North endzone but he was not awarded a touchdown. Why? Because he had stepped out of bounds at the 30-yard line.
Nobody claimed that he was a bad player or a morally deficient person, simply that the touchdown would not count because he had violated one of the predetermined boundaries of the game.
Both teams were made aware of the dimensions of the field of play and white paint was applied to the grass so that there would be no questions as to where it is acceptable to run, and where it is not.
A little later in the game, a Bulldog player was tackled in the backfield when yellow flags appeared all over the green grass. This play ended within the boundaries, but the pre-determined rules of the games determine that a person cannot be tackled by grabbing the pads at the base of the neck because a “horse collar” tackle is unnecessarily dangerous.
Neither coach nor players argued about the rules being mean-spirited or unfair. Nobody doubted the officials right to enforce the rules that had been established. This is because on some level we all like rules. We want to know the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not.
Generally we like the idea of law and order. We may squabble about speed limits or the amount of taxes we must pay. But we take comfort in the idea that another person is prohibited from driving the opposite direction in our lane of travel. We get frustrated when drivers drive under the speed limit or trucks don’t stay in their lanes. We are pleased that our society is structured so that the stuff in our houses belong to us and we don’t have to worry that a neighbor is right now “borrowing” our television where we intend to watch the Chief’s game after the potluck and business meeting.
So if rules can give us comfort and pleasure, is it unreasonable to think that God legislates? He lays down laws for His people. Within the Bible’s storyline, we discover that God’s law is actually bound to the joyous true freedom of life lived under the God who made us.
“Freedom is not the absence of law; it is the ability to live as intended.”
I read this week that “our laws are made up of 10,000 pages because we are unwilling to follow 10 lines.”
We ended last week with the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and brief mention of Jacob), who had been called by God to constitute a kind of new humanity that would enter into a covenant relationship with him. They continued in the land of Canaan (later called Israel) as nomads looking after their vast herds until the time came when famine compelled them to move to Egypt. As the centuries slipped by and their numbers multiplied, eventually they became slaves to the Egyptians.
Moses encounters God in the desert and is called to deliver the people out of slavery. You may have heard of the ten plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea: Moses does lead them out.
Eventually the escaping Israelites come to a mountain in the desert: Mount Sinai. They have not yet arrived back to the Land promised Abraham. On Mount Sinai, God constructs another covenant; he writes another agreement with them.

Expectations of the Community (Exodus 20:1-19)

1. 2 Tables - #1-4 deal with our relationship with God and #5-10 deal with how our relationship with God influences the way we act with one another.
2. Since we studied each of these 10 this past winter, I won’t go over all of them, the sermon archives are available through our podcast and website.
3. I would like to highlight and bring to our remembrance principles from the first table of 4 laws.

#1 – God is Exclusive (Ex 20:2-3)

1. God chose them, showed them His good intentions (delivered them), and explains this is not an “open relationship”
2. For their own good.
a. Protection
b. Provision
c. Peace
Just about every parent of teens that I know has warned his or her teen about becoming too serious too soon. This advice is usually given out of loving concern for the child. The parent knows that it is extremely unlikely that one’s first love will become a partner for life. The disappointment of a break-up is a pain that parents wish their children could avoid.
In like manner, God knows that if we chase other gods we will eventually be disappointed and hurt. He wants to protect us from that hurt by providing His peace because He alone is worthy of our heart and devotion.

#2 – God is Transcendent (Ex 20:4)

1. God maintains the distinction between Creator and created.
2. God must not be domesticated.

#3 – God’s Importance (Ex 20:7)

1. This is not about curse words.
2. This is to take God out of His exalted state and to mindlessly refer to Him with carelessness.

#4 – God’s Authority over our priorities (Ex 20:8-9)

1. God wants us to establish boundaries so that we value our relationship with Him.
I know a few parents who impose a “no electronics” rule at the dinner table. This is because, if distractions are available, each member of the family will be more focused on other relationship than the family relationship.
I think every one of us have watched the family at a restaurant where each member is physically at the table, but mentally and emotionally they are still at work or with their social network.

Application

1. These 10 are an IMPOSSIBLE standard so that we will continue to seek the Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Love of the God who chooses and redeems us.
2. These 2 tables are restated in the New Testament as the Royal Law; and they remind us that we are not as good as we think we are.
Transition: To protect God’s people from imitating the gods of their neighbors [“Grandpa God”, The Distant God, and the “You Scratch My Back” gods], the God of the Bible says that He is a God whose glory comes near and amongst us. So, He instructed that a unique place would be built to provide for God’s mercy to come near to man.

The Center of the Community – a Tabernacle (Leviticus 16)

1. Last week as we looked at Acts 17, we read that God does not live in temples made by hands. This week I am describing a meeting place that He instructed the Hebrews to build. Have I lost touch with reality? No, While God cannot be contained in human temples, There ARE places of visitation where He chooses to come near men.
2. The first such place was a portable worship center that looked something like this. [play Faithlife video].
3. In the Most Holy Place, or the Holies of Holies, there was only one piece of furniture called the Ark of the Covenant.
4. This chest or ark contained a copy of the rules He gave to Moses, it had 2 Cherubs on top, and between the angelic beings was called the Mercy Seat.
5. What happens in this most holy place is described in Lev. 16
Leviticus 16:1–5 ESV:2016
1 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died, 2 and the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. 3 But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6. From the earliest days of the Hebrew nation God is making provision for atonement because He desires to forgive.
7. The animals are sacrifices (Bull, Ram and goat) because guilt cannot be ignored and God’s demand for justice must be appeased. The consequence of sin remains the same—death.
8. The 2nd goat receives all the guilt of the priest, his family and the nation; then he is sent into the wilderness as a symbol of separating the guild from the people.
Transition: The satisfaction of wrath and taking away of guilt are great themes when we consider the afterlife! But what does God do here and now? There is one more scene I want us to consider as we think about God’s rule over His people.

God’s Glory Among Men (Exodus 32-34)

Explanation

1. Moses encounters the glory of God and observes the rebellion of man (evidenced in the Golden Calf)
2. Moses states clearly in 33:15 that if God’s presence doesn’t abide with the people, it isn’t worth going on. What good is it if the people are unique from everyone else because they follow the rules, if they don’t have God’s presence?
Exodus 33:15 ESV:2016
15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
When I was a teenager there was a saying that we used at Youth for Christ – “don’t drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls who do”. But following those rules isn’t the Gospel. Following those rules won’t lead to salvation. There are a lot of Mormons and Muslims who don’t drink, smoke or chew. But that doesn’t mean they have a relationship with God. Following rules is just religion, but God intended from when he gave first breath to Adam that we would relate to Him.
3. Exodus 33 records a dialogue between Holy God and perplexed Moses who is trying to figure out how these 2 entities can co-exist. (Ex 33:16)
Exodus 33:16 ESV:2016
16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
Exodus 33:19 ESV:2016
19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
4. God reminds that He is merciful and compassionate (Ex. 33:19)
5. But don’t confuse his mercy for weakness! Because His glory is overwhelming (Ex 33:20)
Exodus 33:20 ESV:2016
20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
6. God permits His goodness to parade in front of Moses in Exodus 34 and it leaves him with the results of an obvious glow.
7. I tend to think the “shining” of Moses’ face is similar to the glow of a sunburn.
Transition: How does God rule His people? By giving clear expectations, by dwelling in their midst, and by inspiring and leading with His glory.

Conclusion:

So, what have we learned about God? Week 1 we saw that God created everything good and communicates with man. Week 2 we learned that God’s mercy prompts Him to divert the curse. Week 3 we saw that God sovereignly choose some to receive grace. And today, we find that God’s rules His people by coming near in relationship.
As this service will soon come to a close I ask you, “Do you have a relationship with this God?” Do you only see God as the initial big bang and the final bad judge or do you view Him as the one who loves you and want to be known by your deeper than any human alive?
In a moment we’re going to sing a song and if you don’t know God as your personal Savior, I implore you to step out from your seat, come to the front and say “Pastor, pray for me.”
Nothing would give me greater joy than to pray for you and pair you with one of our Elders or leaders who could explain to you from God’s Word how you can know God in relationship instead of just religious rules.
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