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

Part II: God's Sustainment Of Israel In The Wilderness Amid Humanly Helpless Trials
K. God's Elaboration And Application Of The Ten Commandments
1. God's Elaborating And Applying His First Two Commands On Worshiping Him
(Exodus 20:22-26)
  1. Introduction
    1. When God has expectations of His people, He wants them to understand them so they can perform them.
    2. Now, the goodness of God causes Him to explain Himself, and this fact is seen in His explanations and applications of His first two commands on worshiping Him (as follows):
  2. God's Elaborating And Applying His First Two Commands On Worshiping Him, Exodus 20:22-26.
    1. Following the delivery of the Ten Commandments, the Lord enlarged and applied them in Israel's life so that there would be no possible misunderstanding as to what He intended, and this elaboration is known as the "Book of the Covenant" in Exodus 20:22-24:11, Bible Knowledge Com., Old Testament, p. 140.
    2. The first part of that "Book of the Covenant", Exodus 20:22-26, details specifics of what God meant on His first two commands that deal with the correct worship of the Lord, Ibid.
    3. God based His expansion on the commands on proper worship with a reminder of how He had appeared in awe-inspiring display on Mount Sinai, Exodus 20:22. This reminder set the tone for God's explanation on the proper worship of Himself, for, in keeping with that awesome display, the true worship of God exalted Him above all other gods and all those who worship Him, and that in every WAY (as follows):
      1. In worshiping God, God's people were not to become distracted with materialism, Exodus 20:23:
        1. Though God told Israel at Exodus 20:4 not to make any carved image for worship, He had not clarified the forming of images made out of metals that man thought were valuable.
        2. Hence, God clarified that He did not want His worship to be corrupted with the idolatrous love of metals prized by man that would compete with the worshiper's appreciation of Himself, Ex. 20:23.
      2. In worshiping God, His people were to exalt Him alone in public or in private worship, Ex. 20:23:
        1. God said He would not tolerate the establishment of a molten image alongside Himself in public worship, nor a molten image to be made for the people in their private lives, Exodus 20:23.
        2. Hence, whether in public or in private, God wanted His worshipers to revere Him in truth!
      3. In worshiping God, His people were to focus on His grace versus human merit, Exodus 20:24a, 25:
        1. The Lord indicated that in contrast to the attention-grabbing designs of the pagan altars (Ibid., p. 141), His people were to heap up piles of dirt for their altars regardless of the occasion of the sacrifice or the expense involved in the animal that was used, Exodus 20:24a.
        2. Stones could be used in place of dirt, but God's people were to avoid using any tool to dress up the stones lest the worshiper to be impressed by the human craftsmanship in the worship, Exodus 20:25.
        3. This all meant that God wanted absolutely no human merit to be exalted in His worship -- God's grace, His unmerited favor alone was the basis of all acceptable worship of God! (Eph. 2:8-10)
      4. In worshiping God, His people were to worship in truth in contrast to false paganism, Exodus 20:24b:
        1. Pagan worship in Moses' day was performed at specific geographical locations (often hilltops) where the people held that local deities dominated as the gods of those specific places.
        2. God, being the Creator of all geographical locations, determined His people were to worship Him at those places He chose for them that His worship not be confused with such false pagan beliefs!
      5. In worshiping God, His people were to submit to His will that He might bless them on His terms rather than having them think they could manipulate God to bless them due to their efforts, Exodus 20:24b,c.
      6. In worshiping God, His people were to avoid unholy distractions by leaders like their use of steps that exposed their nakedness under their gowns to the onlookers looking up from beneath, Ex. 20:26; Ibid.
Lesson: By the acceptable worship of Himself, God meant that His people were not to be distracted by materialism, pagan beliefs, man-authored ideas and works or unholy and distracting acts or dress styles of worship leaders, but that in public or in private, He alone be their heart's focus of adoration!

Application: May we exalt our Lord in spirit and in truth as we worship Him, and exalt Him ALONE not only above all false idols, but above any distraction that can compete with our focus on Him!