Today was quite a day in our reading. We have arrived at the mountain of God and Moses seems to take a liking to hiking. By my count in today's reading alone he goes up and down the mountain somewhere between 8-10 times with the final time being a 40 day stay on the mountain in the presence of God. For some of you hiking is an enjoyable thing that you look forward to and make plans to do on purpose. For some it is loathsome to even think about. I personally have such bad ankle joints that the idea of hiking is not that appealing since with fairly good certainty I know that by the end of it I will be hobbling down the mountain with a stick for a crutch or my ankle in a splint. But I do love the outdoors and being in a place that just oozes the presence of God and his glorious creation.
God has invited Moses to come and meet with him on this mountain. This was a mountain that Moses knew well. It was the mountain that he was on when this whole journey to Egypt and back started. It was the mountain with the burning bush that was not consumed. Moses is back and this time there is going to be some major fireworks and some major changes made for the chosen people of God. They just didn't know it yet.
Here they are three months into an exodus from slavery in Egypt, in route to the land that was promised to their ancestors well over 600 years ago and yet they are still unsure of their God. They are still grumbling against Him and his servant. God has delivered them in a mighty mighty way and they have seen some of the most wondrous, awe-inspiring miracles recorded in history, but as far as life in the day to day is concerned, it is business as usual.
That is all about to change.
God is renewing the covenant with his chosen people and he is calling them to be a holy, set apart, righteous people who rely on Him. He is taking this time now, before they enter the promised land, to instruct them, through his "mountain man", on who they are called to be and what a holy set apart and righteous people looks like.
Today's reading is probably the most recognizably scripture in the world. Most people have heard of the 10 commandments. What they do with them is a different story but they are very widely recognized. This is the foundation, the core of the constitution so to speak, for all the rest of the laws that will come from God in the coming days, weeks, and years. But it is also a section of scripture that is very powerful in that it establishes the covenant with God again.
Twice we read that in one voice they commit to obey the commands of God. They are in essence saying that they will be a Theocracy. (They will be governed by God and the laws and decrees that he gives them and they will follow God where he leads and takes them.) Like our Democracy (rule by the majority and everyone has a voice at the table) where we place our trust as a nation in the elected officials that we have put forth to represent us in issuing the laws and decrees by which we live by, Israel put put that faith and trust in God. They in essence declared that day that they would follow God and obey what he asked of them instead of the model of the world around them which said that you needed to have a monarch or "man" to lead you and issue the "rules" so to speak.
I wish that I could unpack what a covenant was and what it meant in full detail but in short it is so much more than a promise. It is much deeper than simply committing to do or not do something. It has forever implications. It has life and death implications. We only find a few covenants that were made between God and man in scripture so we should pay attention when we see one. There are many many promises that are made by God in Scripture but very few covenants.
We, as Christians, are under the covenant of the cross, the covenant with Christ. We have committed ourselves, in the same manner that the nation of Israel did, to trust and obey God and to follow him where he would lead us. And sadly just as the nation of Israel to often we find ourselves wandering in the dessert, wandering in our own rebellion from that very covenant. But God is faithful and God is good. His mercies are new each morning and he is committed to us even when we, like Israel, find ourselves chasing other gods in our lives. The god of money, the god of power, the god of popularity, the god of materialism, the god of humanism, the god of indulgence, the god of self, the god of career, or any other "god" that we put in place of the God of Heaven and earth.
I would challenge you to think about the covenant that you made that day when you gave your heart to Christ. How has your life been marked and changed as a result of that day. What areas are you still unwilling to let go of. What "gods" are you allowing to be a snare to you in your life? God is warning us in the same way that He warns Israel before they enter the land in Exodus 23:22-23 "Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you."
We wonder how could this even remotely be a snare to them. They have seen God.... They have literally heard God... (Exodus 19:9) They have witnessed the most amazing show of Gods power in the history of the earth. Yet they allowed (as we will soon read, and as many of you may already know) their culture and the world around them to influence them in such a way that they forgot all about the mountain. They forgot all about God coming down into their midst; feeding them every morning and evening, causing even their most basic of needs to be meet and taken care of on a daily basis.
How have we let the culture and the world around us influence us and cause us to forget the mountain of God? How have we let the "gods" of our own world become a snare to us, to the point of causing us to place other things and people in the place of God in our lives? God is looking for Mountain Men. How often do you find yourself climbing the mountain and sitting at the feet of God feasting? (Exodus 24:9-11)