Today’s reading is Exodus 19:16-21:21, Matthew 23:13-39, Psalm 28:1-9, and Proverbs 7:1-5.
The reading in Exodus begins with a loud noise. A great thunder. A set of instructions that demanded a response. A thundering voice to signify its importance. It was the voice of God. Sometimes the Holy Spirit whispers silent words of comfort and encouragement. In those times we must be still and know that He is God. Other times the voice of God is like thunder and lightning and that requires diligent listening as well as response. And what did the thundering voice say? Heed my commands.
In chapter twenty, the first verse, we see a small word with a significance that we must not overlook.
And God spoke all these words.
Exodus 20:1, NIV
What is the small word to which I am referring? All. Three little letters packed with significance. God spoke all these words. And if he spoke all of them, and that fact was emphasized, then each word should be taken to heart.
What were these words? The ten commandments. The ten rules of living, which have served countless believers for countless generations. When something of significance is about to be said, it is usually prefaced with an important statement; an introduction. God’s introduction, after the great thunder, and was a repeat of what He originally told Moses. I am. He said, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
He said, “I am…” Not I was. Not I will be. But I am. And that “I am” has never changed. He has never changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
When Moses was called to go to God’s people in Egypt, his doubt was great. But in the midst of his doubt and fear, the name of God, the very nature of God was revealed.
13But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” 15God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,e the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.
According to Matthew Henry, “The years of the life of Moses are divided into three forties; the first forty he spent as a prince in Pharaoh’s court, the second as a shepherd in Midian, the third as a king in Jeshurun.”
Remember that holy number forty? Forty years as a prince, forty as a shepherd, forty as a king. Forty is preparation for the extraordinary. It seems that each significant part of the life of Moses was a progressive reflection of Jesus. Jesus, the holy Son of God, the Prince of Peace, who enters the Bible as royalty in heaven as we see glimpses of Him throughout the Old Testament. Jesus, who came to earth as the Great Shepherd sent to gather His lost and hurting sheep. Jesus, who is the King of all kings, whose rule will never end.
God told Moses that He was the great I AM.
C. Kingsley had this to say in his sermon entitled, “God, the Great I Am”.
If I say “I am,” I say what is not true of me. I must say “I am something — I am a man, I am bad, or I am good, or I am an Englishman, I am a soldier, I am a sailor, I am a clergyman.” — and then I shall say what is true of me. But God alone can say “I AM” without saying anything more. And why? Because God alone is. Everybody and everything else in the world becomes: but God is. We are all becoming something from our birth to our death — changing continually and becoming something different from what we were a minute before; first of all we were created and made, and so became men; and since that we have been every moment changing, becoming older, becoming wiser, or alas! foolisher; becoming stronger or weaker; becoming better or worse. Even our bodies are changing and becoming different day by day. But God never changes or becomes anything different from what He is now. What He is, that He was, and ever will be.
He is I Am. And when He introduced His ten great commandments with the reminder of “I am…” it tells us that what He meant then, He means now. When was the last time you reflected on the ten commandments? It has certainly been a while for me. Today, let’s read them again. And maybe again and again. Today, why not read them aloud? Why not ask the Lord if there are any that you may need to renew in your own heart? And I will do the same.
And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear.
One last thought … When the people heard the Thundering Voice say the thundering words, they were trembling with fear. We talk so much of God’s love and grace and forgiveness. And yes, we should. It is who He is. But who He is, is also holy. And we can’t forget that. Yes, we, through the blood of Jesus, can come boldly to the throne of grace. But we can’t forget that it is a throne. And the One on the throne demands great respect, always.