Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part II: God's Sustainment Of Israel In The Wilderness Amid Humanly Helpless Trials
J. Using God's Permitted Reverence-Inducing Trials To Heed Him
(Exodus 20:18-21)
  1. Introduction
    1. There are times when trials or "crucibles" are permitted to arise in our lives by the Lord not because of any actual sin we have done, but to direct us to heed Him that we might obey Him for blessing.
    2. Exodus 20:18-21 reveals this program of God, one we do well to apply for such trials that arise:
  2. Using God's Permitted Reverence-Inducing Trials To Heed Him, Exodus 20:18-21.
    1. While God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments, the people witnessing that event were terrified of the communication process, Exodus 20:18:
      1. We know from Exodus 19:16c that God had descended in a thick cloud upon Mount Sinai.
      2. We also know that loud thunders and bolts of lightening emanated from that thick cloud on a continual basis much like a severe thunderstorm would deliver, Exodus 19:16a,b.
      3. Besides this, there was the long blast of a "trumpet," or shofar, the sounding of a hollowed out ram's horn that bears a piercing sound, and it blew so loud that the people trembled, Exodus 19:16d KJV; Kittel, Biblia Hebr., p. 108 with Zond. Pict. Ency. of the Bible, vol. Four, p. 317.
      4. Also, a pillar of smoke ascended from the mount, for God had descended upon it with a flame of fire, Ex. 19:18a. The traditional and probable site of Mount Sinai is a mass of steep, hard rock, so the heat generated to make the mountain smoke must have been great! (Ibid., Z.P.E.B., vol. Five, p. 448-450)
      5. Mount Sinai then constantly quaked greatly with an earthquake, a fact that would generate fear with any human witness, Exodus 19:18b.
      6. Then, the piercing sound of the shofar kept growing louder and louder until Moses spoke with the Lord, and the Lord's voice answered him, Exodus 19:19!!
      7. When Moses approached God to speak with Him amid all this terrifying fanfare, he entered into the base of the thick cloud where it was completely dark due to the cloud's thickness, Exodus 20:21b.
    2. The people of Israel responded to this terrifying display, asking Moses to relate God's words to them, but that they themselves not hear God speak lest they die from the terrifying experience, Exodus 20:19.
    3. Moses replied that God was not planning to kill the people by this fearful method of communicating, but that He had used this fearful display to motivate them to respect Him so that they not sin , Exodus 20:20.
    4. In view of Scripture revelation elsewhere, we see that since sin leads to judgment, something that God Who is infinitely loving does not want to administer against His own, God produced this display that the people of Israel might revere Him and so avoid disobeying His commandments that He might bless them:
      1. Elsewhere, the Lord is described as a God Who shows mercy to a thousand generations of those who love Him and thus keep His commandments, Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 7:9.
      2. Later, king David wrote that the Lord was "slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy", that "He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever." Indeed, David added that God had "not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us a ccording to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him," Psalm 103:8-11! (emphasis ours)
      3. Accordingly, because of His infinite love towards His own, God caused the people of Israel to be terrified at His Mount Sinai display that they might respect Him enough to obey His commandments. Only then could He lavish His lovingkindness upon them and not His wrath!
Lesson: God caused the people of Israel to be terrified of His accompanying DISPLAY in giving the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai, for He desired that they REVERE Him so as to KEEP those commands; then He could BLESS them versus DISCIPLINING them!

Application: (1) If we face a trial that startles us, and we are not aware that we have done a particular sin that is raising God's anger against us, our FIRST RESPONSE should be to FOCUS on RESPECTING God so as to HEED what we KNOW He wants us to DO! (2) In such cases, we must recall that God's MOTIVE in allowing us to experience such unsettledness is His infinite LOVE for us! He wants to BLESS, not PUNISH us, and so He is causing us to fear Him that we might HEED Him!