Worship is about revelation and response. God takes the initiative and reveals Himself to us. We respond to what God reveals. This pattern is clear: We see God (19:4) and He expects complete obedience (19:5). The problem is, we can’t see God or obey what He commands, so how can we worship? Jesus enables our worship by revealing the Father and offering His obedience in our place.
God reveals Himself in different ways. Sometimes it is miraculous – a burning bush or a cloud covered in smoke and fire. At other times, it is more ordinary – words on a page. When God spoke to Moses on the mountain, it was the same as when the people read the Ten Commandments. In fact, it was better because the people didn’t want God to speak to them. They were too afraid. They wanted Him to go through someone else.
Lightning and fire were too much, so God used Moses. The words of Moses were not enough, so He did even better. He stepped out of heaven and became a man so that we could see and know Him. Not through fear and fog, but in grace and truth. Jesus came so we could see God (Hebrews 1:1-3) and how He would respond in our shoes. Jesus loved His enemies, prayed for those who persecuted Him, extended grace to those in sin, and loved the Father so much that He gave His life in obedience. He revealed God’s character and how we should live.
Jesus perfectly reveals the Father, but we still fail to obey. The Ten Commandments are entry level and we cannot keep them. We worship other things, lie, steal, have sex with people we aren’t married to, and want what others have. Our disobedience earns God’s wrath.
We can’t obey, so Jesus obeys for us. He responds perfectly, lives obediently and keeps all of the commands. His life fulfills the righteous requirement God’s Law demands. Jesus earns the Father’s acceptance and approval.
On the cross, Jesus exchanges places with us. He takes our sin on Himself and absorbs the wrath of God against it. He offers His righteousness to us in exchange for our sin. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21)
The cross reveals God’s judgment on sin and His offer of new life through faith in Jesus. He wants us to respond by faith in Jesus. The Israelites failed because when God spoke, they didn’t respond with faith. Jesus offers salvation from God by rest from our work and trust in His work for us. Respond with faith in Jesus. (Hebrews 4)
1. What barriers has Jesus set aside so that we can draw near to God with confidence (see Hebrews 10:19ff)? What does Peter urge us to do to become “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God” (1 Pet. 2:9)?
2. What does it mean that God is jealous? How does that trait define the terms of this covenant? What was an idol then? What about now?
3. What shift in focus do you see between verses 1-11 and 12-31? How does Matthew 22:37-40 help you understand the Ten Commandments?