Jesse Tree: Day 11 Law (Exodus 20:1-26)
Mount Sinai gives us an incredibly vivid parable of our need of Christ. With the people of God crowded round the bottom of the mountain, and God revealed in His glory at the top, it seemed there was no point of connection or possibility of interaction. ‘Then the Lord called for him, and Moses went up’ (Ex.19:20). Such a great picture of the mediation of Jesus Christ. We aren’t able to approach God ourselves (the people are not to force their way through, 19:24), but there is one who is able to approach Him on our behalf. One who is able to come to us and tell us who He is and what He has said.
As we come into Ex.20, we hear what God has said to His redeemed people. ‘He spoke all these words…’ (20:1). ‘These words’ are what we now call the 10 Commandments. People sometimes say the Old Testament is all rules, and the New, all grace. Both caricatures are dangerously inaccurate. Both Old and New have the same dynamic of grace leading to holiness. God has graciously liberated His people from slavery and oppression and fear of death, and he has called them to His land, and to Himself. His intent is to create a nation under His Kingship, that will live before His presence and according to His vision for human life and society. The nations of the world were supposed to look in and see how spectacular life lived according to God’s vision would be. Rooted in worship (Moses also brought down the blueprint for the tabernacle from Sinai) it would be a powerful missional vision, drawing people into a foretaste of the New Creation. People would stream from the nations to be a part of this people (see Dt.4:6-8).
This has always been the mandate of the Church. Sometimes you hear people lament how restrictive the Law of God would be, and how miserable we’d all be if everyone lived by the rules of the Bible. Think about that for a moment - a world where we knew how to rest, where no-one lied about others, or hated, or hurt, or stole from others, where there was no adultery, and where children honoured their parents… a world where Christ is given the honour He is due. Sounds like a pretty good world to me! That is the world the Church is supposed to display, reflecting the character of God Himself.
And yet, it is telling that immediately after the 10 Commandments are rehearsed by the Lord, He gives instructions on building an altar (Ex.20:24). It’s as if He knew that once He set the bar, we’d fail to reach it. He did. He knows we are sinful, and His Law can often convince us of the same reality: through the law we become conscious of our sin (Rom.3:20), and so of our awareness of a Sacrifice, our Burnt Offering.
I have come to fulfil the Law… Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished… (Matt.5:17-18)
Ideas for Family Devotions:
Try playing a game without any rules. What would your family be like if there were no rules? How quickly does the conversation get to the place where we realise that actually we need rules in order to live…
Read Deut.6:8. This is what Moses tells the ancient Church to do after reminding them of God’s Commandments (Dt.5). Write out (an abridged version of?) the 10 Commandments and wrap them in a piece of fabric, or put them in a matchbox, and tie them to your wrist for today, using para-cord, or string, or a piece of ribbon. Think throughout the day about how God’s Commandments shape your thinking and behaviour, and talk about it at dinner tonight.