Plenary One: Tim Keller, Exodus 19

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Tim Keller, Plenary Session One

Exodus 19

We are here, not to think and talk about women, but to think and talk about God.

As the various cultures of the world bring out different aspects of the Gospel and enrich the whole church, so too do the different genders. Women doing exegetical study enriches the entire church.

Exodus 19 is looked to in Heb 12 and 1 Pet 2. Extremely important in the story of the Gospel

  1. The History and Order of Grace (vv. 1-8)
    1. “The Bible Speaks Today” series, Exodus commentary written by JA Motyer.
      1. God and Moses basically said to Israel, “Trust us.” And Israel trusted. Now, at Sinai, they are actually further away from the Promise Land than Egypt was.
      2. He told them He was taking them to a land flowing with milk and honey. But He meets them in the desert. A place worse than where they were in Egypt.
      3. It’s like this for us sometimes. We give Christ everything, our whole lives, and things get worse from there. It seems God is taking us away from where He says He’s going to take us. This is so often the story of grace in our own lives as well.
        1. Penultimate Example:
          1. In Dothan, Joseph, who has been Jacob’s obvious favorite, is spoiled and well on his way to being a terrible person. But he is sold into slavery. Perhaps Joseph called out to the God of his father’s and said “Help me.” And there was silence.
          2. In Dothan, Elisha prayed and his servant saw the flaming army.
          3. What was the difference? Joseph needed something much deeper. If God had shown up and told Joseph his problem, he wouldn’t have listened.
          4. John Newton, “No one ever recognized he was a sinner by being told.” We cannot be told, we must be shown. It took Joseph and his brothers years to be able to see grace. But by the end of Genesis, Joseph knows what they meant for evil, God meant for good.
        2. Ultimate Example:
        1. The crucifixion– The followers of Jesus could not have known how the cross could be something good. But life comes through the cross. Jesus could not return without destroying us.

The order of grace:

      1. Saving acts of the Lord
      2. Our obedient Response
      3. The Blessing that comes through Obedience.

NOTHING must every upset that sequence. You will never understand the Bible if you do not understand this order.

God did not give the children of Israel the Law, have them agree to be obedient and then take them out of Egypt.

“I saved you, now obey me,” not “Obey me and I’ll save you.”

From the Passover to the Arrival at Mt. Sinai is the most astounding visual aid ever arranged.

Of the Gospel, there is nothing more important to understand:

  • “I am accepted, therefore, I obey.” This person is motivated by love and gratitude to obey. You obey to get God. This person’s obedience is unconditional. “I do the right things regardless of how life is going for me.”
  • NOT “I obey so I will be accepted.” This person is self-centered and operating out of fear. You obey to get blessings from God. This person’s obedience is conditional. “I do the right things and my life is not going well.”

The Blessings from God: They are yours, and yet, they are not quite yet yours. They are already there, but it only through obedience that you will realize it.

1. You’ll be my treasure. God’s treasure. Treasure means, “The private, personal wealth of an ancient king.” God has already treasured them because He saved them. But He wants them to obey INTO that relationship.

      1. When you love someone, you want to please him. You find out what he likes and wants. Essentially, you are obeying his will. This is the obedience God desires. He desires the obedience of love.
      2. Legalism and Antinominanism are essentially the same. Neither understands the grace of obedience.

2. You’ll be a holy nation.You will really be different. When the Gospel gets the human ego sorted so you aren’t whiplashed back and forth between thinking too highly and too little of yourself, the ego is shut up. “You don’t think more of yourself or less of yourself. You just think of yourself less.” No pecking order, no biting and devouring each other. Money, sex, and power operate completely differently when under the power of graced obedience.

What is a holy nation? Read the Sermon on the Mount.

3. You’ll be a kingdom of priests. You’ll have access to God. You’ll be mediators between God and those who are outside. If you know you are a treasure, and you live separately as a holy nation, you WILL BE an light which brings the world to God.

This is all completely different from the Canaanite religions in the area. Mt. Sinai is God’s chosen ziggurat. Local religions climbed to the top of the ziggurat to get to God. At Sinai, God came down to the Israelites. 

Everything about how they approach God is the exact opposite those around them.

God does more than just take them out of slavery, He also brings them to Himself. 

2. The Terrifying and Beckoning of God (vv. 9-19).

    1. Cf. Heb 12:18-21– Fire, darkness, gloom, trumpets, death
    2. God is not a warm fuzzy:
      1. A wrestler
      2. A hurricane
      3. Ezekiel 1: Can’t even be described
      4. What is so terrifying about God?
      1. The terrifying nature of God does not have to have visual and auditory accompaniment. But He does it to get our attention because we are so far in denial of who we are and what we do. If we really saw just how depraved we are, we would die. It is incredibly traumatic when your self-image is questioned and destroyed. If we doubt ourselves when we are around people who are superior to us, what would it do to us to be in the presence of God? 
      2. Sermon on the Mount shows us the terrifying nature of God. It points an arrow at our hearts and removes all cover. It shows us how we want others to behave around us, but we know we cannot do it ourselves.
      3. Why is God always in a cloud?
        1. Not to hide or to separate Himself, but to accommodate His glory so that He can come down and be with His people.

3. The Going Down of Moses (vv. 20-25).

    1. Moses is the mediator. Perhaps the people have been lax and are getting too close to the mountain and God sends Moses down to them to warn and to save them so they do not die.
    2. Heb. 12:21-24 A new covenant and a better word spoken than of the blood of Abel… Abel’s blood cried out against his brother, but Christ was the ultimate mediator because HIS blood cries out, “Grace!”
    3. Mt. 27: The thunder and lightening and darkness and death (that we see at Sinai) comes down on Jesus on the cross. Now there is no need for even the cloud to mediate the glory of God.