Study Notes

Exodus 19:1-20:26

19:1-2 Camped In Front Of Mt. Sinai

Israel moves on from Rephidim, where they had fought the Amalekites, and camped in front of Mt. Sinai. Remember that Mt. Sinai was where God had met Moses in the burning bush.

19:3-8 Eagles' Wings

God begins to instruct Moses in what to tell the people. He was to tell them, "You've seen the miracles, the incredible deliverance I brought you through." He calls that deliverence, "I bore you on eagles' wings."

Obviously, this wasn't literal, but was a good picture of flight out of Egypt. God carried them, protected them, and delivered them - this wasn't anything that they could have done themselves. I believe that this should help us in our prophetic interpretation of Revelation 12.

Rev. 12:14 And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

With the Exodus account in mind, I believe that we would be safest not to read this as many people have, with it being a plane or massive United States airlift. We have seen in Exodus that there doesn't have to be any literal wings for God to use this expression.

Brought You To Myself

God was bringing the people to Himself. Not just delivering them from their bondage so that they could have a great time, being free and partying it up and living carnally. He brought them to Himself.

The same is true for you. God didn't save you just to help you avoid going to hell.

Col. 1:13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

We are now in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. He is our king, our ruler, our master, and our owner. He delivered us to bring us to Himself.

We Will Do!

The people make a commitment to do what the Lord says. Unfortunately, within six weeks, they'll be having an idolatrous orgy around a golden calf.

19:9-15 In A Thick Cloud

The Lord says that He will come in a thick cloud. Clouds obscure the light of the sun. The Lord is protecting the people by obscuring Himself with clouds. Later, in chapter 33, Moses will ask,

Exod. 33:18 Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!"

God's response is

Exod. 33:20 ..."You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"

So the Lord will descend in a thick cloud to obscure His face and His glory. David wrote,

Ps. 18:11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.

Consecrate The People

The word "consecrate" is not something we tend to use in everyday language. It means to sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate, be set apart. The people are to be consecrated for the next two days: clean clothes, and no marital relations.

The washing of their clothes was a symbolic act, representing their character and condition being washed. The three days of celibacy was that they would be denying their flesh, and consecrating themselves for the Lord.

19:16-25 Warn The People

This must have been quite a frightening sight. Moses reminds them about this day in Deuteronomy 4.

Deut. 4:10-12 " {Remember} the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.' And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form - only a voice.

The writer of Hebrews also makes reference to it:

Hebr. 12:18-21 ...a blazing fire, and... darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and... the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which {sound was such that} those who heard begged that no further word should be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, "IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED." And so terrible was the sight, {that} Moses said, "I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling."

Praise God that the church is not under that covenant of Law. Because we have been cleansed from all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, Hebrews says,

Hebr. 4:16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Warn The People

God tells Moses to go warn the people not to come up on the mountain. Moses says, "But God, I already told them that." "Tell them again, Moses."

Funny how God knows our hearts better than anyone else. I find that God has always been faithful to warn me before I take off in some dangerous direction.

20:1-17 You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me

The word "before" there means literally "before my face." It was a Hebrew idiom that meant "beside Me," or "in addition to Me." So this commandment does not mean that you can have other gods, just as long as God is first. It means you are not to have any other gods at all.

No thing, no one, no idol, no pastime, no hobby, no nothing is to be a god in your life at all.

Is God your first and only God? Do you make decisions based on God plus a multitude of other factors? Paul told the Athenians,

Acts 17:28 Him we live and move and exist

Is that the way you live? Being led by God and God alone? God won't share your priorities with anyone else. You are to be so incredibly devoted and in love with Him that everything else looks like hate. That is why Jesus said,

Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was,

Matt. 22:37-38 ...He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment.

Don't allow any other god in your life. Not a thing, not a person, not a hobby, not a job, not a club, not an idea - nothing at all.


Only God.

You Shall Not Make For Yourself An Idol

People made carvings, statues, pictures, etc. to help them visualize who or what they were worshiping. It is sad that even today, a huge section of the church who claim to worship the true and living God bow down to statues of Jesus, and His mother Mary.

A Generational Curse?

God says here:

Exod. 20:5 "...visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me"

People have taken this to believe that God has such a thing as "generational curses," convincing others that their infirmities are because of their parents' sins, or that their children's sicknesses are because of their own past sins.

But the Lord doesn't hold people accountable for their parents' sins. Part of the Law in Deuteronomy states:

Deut. 24:16 "Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin."

People don't read the rest of the passage in context. The Lord clearly says that He is

Exod. 20:6 ...showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

God visits iniquity upon people that reject and hate Him.

We do of course we do see Biblically that "the sins of fathers become sins of the sons". Isaac fell into the sin of his father Abraham. King Ahaziah sinned in the way of his father King Ahab. King Abijam sinned in the way of his father King Rehoboam. Study after study shows that people are susceptible to fall into sinful addictions and behaviors that their parents committed. The psalmist wrote:

Ps. 106:6 We have sinned like our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly.

The son sins in the same manner as his father. Why is that? These "sins of the father" might be transferred in a spiritual way, as Adam's sinfulness was passed to all mankind. They might be transferred in a biological way, through genetic tendencies. Or they're just transferred by example of the father's ways - the children simply watch and imitate.

As we read Ezekiel 18, much of the misunderstandings about this "visiting of iniquity", "generational curses", and the "sins of the father becoming the sins of the son" can be cleared up. Among much instruction and insight in this chapter, the Lord says:

Ezek. 18:14 "Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father's sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise."

This tells us that regardless of the way that the sins of the father became the sins of the son, this is not a "generational curse" - the son does not have to follow - he has a choice, and can choose to not sin in the manner of his father. If you've struggled with this issue, or have been accused of having a "generational curse", I encourage you to read through all of Ezekiel 18. This chapter makes it crystal clear that the Lord absolutely does not punish the children for the parents' sins.

You Shall Not Take My Name In Vain

Most people who hear this immediately think that this means exclusively that we are not to use the name of God or Jesus Christ when cursing. And of course we shouldn't, but the word in Hebrew that is here translated "vain" means, "emptiness, vanity, falsehood, nothingness, vanity, lying, worthlessness."

Not taking the name of the Lord in vain means that you shouldn't make it mean nothing. "Oh, the Lord told me this." "God's leading me to do this." "God wants me to tell you this." How many people do you know speak like this all the time? Just slap God's name in there and now it's truth - that's taking His name in vain. God said that there were prophets who were...

Ezek. 22:28 ...seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD has not spoken.

He also spoke:

Jer. 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.

Jer. 23:30-32 "Therefore behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who steal My words from each other. Behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who use their tongues and declare, ' {The Lord} declares.' Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams," declares the LORD, "and related them, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit," declares the LORD.

Don't treat the name of God like something to throw around like it's nothing. The Lord will not hold guiltless he who takes His name in vain.

Remember The Sabbath Day

The Jews were commanded to keep the Sabbath day. This was a mandate from God to force them to take a break, a rest one day per week, in this case, Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown.

Certainly the principle of a day of rest each week does aplly to us. But because we are not Jews, this specific day does not apply to us.

Rom. 14:4-6 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man regards one day above another, another regards every day {alike.} Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.

Col. 2:16-17 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a {mere} shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Don't let anyone judge you on the fact that you are mowing your lawn on Satuday, or worse yet, that you go to a church on Sunday instead of Saturday. They are free to worship on Saturday if they wish, but that is not a condemnation that you should allow to be heaped on your head.

However, as you defend your rights as a Christian not to observe the Sabbath, remember that God created your body on a seven day cycle which must include one day of rest.

Honor Your Father And Mother

This is a great commandment. Paul writes in Ephesians:

Eph. 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

What does it mean to "honor" your parents? The word in Hebrew, interestingly enough, is "Cha-BOD." When we read that pharaoh's heart was hardened, it was "Cha-BOD." When we read that the glory of the Lord appeared, it was His "Cha-BOD." The word means "honor, glorify, give weightiness to."

The word used in Greek in the Ephesians passage we just read is "tim-AH-o," which means "to fix the value of, revere, or venerate."

What these two words show me is that you need to give weight and value to your parents. They may be flakey, they may be unsaved, they may have little or no wisdom. But you are called to honor them, love them, respect them, and pray for them.

You Shall Not Murder

This seems like an easy commandment to follow, until we hear what Jesus has to say on the subject:

Matt. 5:20-22 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses {that} of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty {enough to go} into the fiery hell.

If you said "Raca" to someone, you were calling them a senseless, empty-headed person. it was a premiere put-down. Jesus said hatred and bad-mouthing of this sort was tantamount to murder.

You Shall Not Commit Adultery

Again, Jesus tells us that the Law is toughter than we can ever imagine:

Matt. 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

These Ten Commandments are getting more difficult all the time!

You Shall Not Steal

God doesn't put a dollar amount on stealing. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about robbing a bank or taking a box of pencils from work, it's still stealing. This includes cheating on your taxes, fudging numbers here and there to make things work out better for you - anything at all.

You Shall Not Bear False Witness

Not only does God tell them not to, but in Proverbs 19, He includes a promise for the false witness:

Prov. 19:9 A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will perish.

Lying may get you out of a jam, but God sees.

Prov. 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

At least two of the seven abominations involve lying. That's no small sin.

You Shall Not Covet

To covet means to desire. When you walk into your friends' house and see how nice it is and wish that you had a house like this too, you're coveting. The guy at work's got a car that would be so cool... you're coveting. Some lady you know has the cutest and sweetest husband around, and oh, if only you could have a husband like that... you're coveting.

Coveting is like so many other sins that aren't physical, but mental: they lead to physical sin. It leads to things like compromise, theft, and adultery. Don't covet.

The Law

Even with just these Ten Commandments, there is no way to keep them all. You've already broken most of them, haven't you. The first four addressed man's vertical relationship to God, which we haven't kept correctly, and the other six addressed man's horizontal relationship to others, which we also haven't kept correctly. Jesus was asked,

Matt. 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

He summed it up into two: Love God, love people. That's basically it. And we can't even seem to manage these two well.

But the point and purpose of these commandments was not to make the people perfect, but to show the people the standard of perfection, to which no one could measure up.

Gal. 3:21-25 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor {to lead us} to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

The whole idea is to be broken by the perfection of these Laws and cry out to God for His mercy and grace.

20:18-19 Speak To Us Yourself

The Lord here spoke directly to the people, and they freaked out. "Moses, let God speak to you and just tell us what He says, okay?!"

20:20-21 The Fear Of God

Just like we talked about this Sunday, here again we see the importance of the fear of God in keeping from sin.

2Cor. 7:1 ...Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We learned that the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is many things, including wisdom, knowledge, instruction, understanding, that it prolongs life, and is strong confidence. And most climactic,

Prov. 8:13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil...

Fearing God will keep you away from evil. Your strongest defense against the flesh, against evil, against sin, is to fear the Lord. If you fear God, you will live in holiness. No wonder Moses said,

Exod. 20:20 ...the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.

Fear God, and you'll keep away from sin.

20:22-26 An Altar Of Earth

God wanted an altar built out of earth, and not out of human craftsmanship. Man has a tendency to glory in the works of his hands. You walk into some of these ancient church buildings and you see ornate stained glass, paintings, statues, and the like. And people ooh and aah. God only wants you oohing and aahing about Him, not about what Joe Bloe architect, painter, or sculptor made.

He tells them to make an altar of simplicity. Many people don't like our sanctuary. Nothing to inspire awe in you. But I think that's great. Only God is going to inspire awe in you in this humble building.

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