Near the Top of Mount Sinai

Exodus 19: God’s Law at Mount Sinai

Israel Prepares for a Visitation from God

The terrifying promulgation of the Law at Mount Sinai
The promulgation of the Law in Mount Sinai

The promulgation of the Law in Mount Sinai

In today’s lesson, we see:

  • Moses delivers God’s message;
  • Israel prepares for a visitation from God.

Chapters 19 through 24 of Exodus deal with the Law. The children of Israel have arrived at Mount Sinai, and here they agree to accept the Law. In fact, what they do is exchange grace for law.

At Mount Sinai, the Law of God, which includes the Ten Commandments, is going to be given. God is going to give His people the opportunity of deciding whether they want to go on with God leading them – the way He has for the period of time since they left Egypt until they arrived at the mount – or whether they would rather accept and receive the Law. But they will find that both receiving and attempting to live by the Law is a terrifying experience that leads only to their condemnation.

“Can Do, Sir!”

As a Marine, and later as an Army officer, I often spoke the phrase, “Can do, Sir!” It was a statement of enthusiasm with the intent to do whatever necessary to accomplish the mission. But it is one thing to be highly motivated by good intentions, quite another to accomplish the task at hand. When it comes to  God’s Law of sinless perfection, no amount of enthusiasm and human effort can enable us to fully comply with its requirements.

The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes longer

Many men and women have suffered and even died for causes that failed. If it was a worthy cause, their sacrifice may be laudatory, but still speaks to their weakness and inability to accomplish the desired end. How many times, as an Airborne Ranger, I heard or spoke the phrase, “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible may take a bit longer.” But the reality is that, even though highly motivated and giving our 110%, human frailty often prevents us from perfectly accomplishing what we set out to do.

God’s Law – An Unattainable Standard

And if many human undertakings prove unachievable, God’s law, with its standards of perfection and holiness, is absolutely unattainable. In thousands of years of human history, not one person has perfectly kept God’s law to achieve salvation. Natural man cannot please God, no more than a dead body can win a fight or perform even the simplest of mental or physical tasks.

Law versus Grace

God, for fifteen hundred years, demonstrated through Israel to the world that people are not saved by the Law. These people, under favorable circumstances and in a land geared to the Law, were unable to keep it. In our secular societies today, we are even less able to keep it.

The Condemnation of the Law

At Mount Sinai God reminded Israel how He has led and cared for them. Then He gives them a choice – grace or law. God asks them if they will keep the commandments if He gives them to Israel. They are going to exchange grace for law. A great many people do that today. This is unfortunate because we live in a day when God saves by grace. God does not save by law. What a contrast there is between law and grace.

Law Grace
Law demands Grace gives
Law says “do” Grace says “believe”
Law exacts Grace bestows
Law says “work” Grace says “rest”
Law threatens, pronouncing a curse Grace entreats, pronouncing a blessing
Law says “Do, and thou shalt live” Grace says, “Live, and thou shalt do”
Law condemns the best man Grace saves the worst man

The Law reveals the character of God – it also reveals the weakness of man. In Romans 3:19 Paul says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

The Good News of Grace

The gospel (literally, “Good News”) of the Bible is that God saves by grace. Salvation by the grace of God has always been His method. In the Old Testament He never saved anyone who was attempting to keep the Law. They were saved by His mercy and grace to them, looking forward to the coming of Christ to die on the Cross to take away their sins. Have you been saved by God’s grace, or are you still trying to do it your own way and in your own strength?

For more on this topic, CLICK HERE to listen to today’s lesson.

Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are. Acts 15:10-11 HCSB

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 HCSB

Get Plugged Into God’s Plan Today

If you are uncertain of your standing with God, then go to Him right now to start your eternal relationship with Him. His free gift of eternal life and sanctification in Christ is there for the asking. Once you have taken that first step of salvation, our study in Matthew will get you well on your way to a loving and lasting relationship with the Almighty God who is seeking your friendship. He will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13) and help you become and do all He has in store for you.

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Allan AndersonServantsClass.org WebmasterView all posts by Allan Anderson