Exodus 19: God’s Law at Mount Sinai
Israel Prepares for a Visitation from God
The terrifying promulgation of the Law at 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 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.
- CLICK HERE to listen to today’s lesson, Exodus 19: God’s Law at Mount Sinai.
- CLICK HERE for an overview of the Book of Exodus.
- For more about the Egyptian gods, CLICK HERE to access Ancient Egypt Online.
- CLICK HERE to open or download notes and the outline for the Book of Exodus.
- CLICK HERE for more about putting your faith in Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation.
- CLICK HERE to access the complete listing of Bible Studies in the Book of Exodus.