I said I would post my notes and the community group questions on my blog so here you go. I would really love to continue the conversation.
The Northgate Church
February, 19th 2006
My house is full of anticipation. Kathy is pregnant and it’s a pretty exciting, stressful, and fun time. Many of you are parents and many of you are expecting as well. And it’s weird how excited you get about the Baby. I don’t even know this guy yet but already I can’t wait to meet him.
Kathy and I are trying to figure out all the stuff that we are going to have to do to get ready for our little boy. We bought a crib and changing table. We are talking about fixing stuff in the baby’s room, paint, decorations, re-doing the ceiling everything. And we’re trying to save money and get as ready as possible for anything that might come along.
And I know this about my son, as soon as I meet him, he will change my life forever. He’s going to rock my world. He’s going to be the coolest. I am really, really excited to get to know him. And I’m sorry but I know he’s going to steal the cutest baby in the world crown. And Kathy keeps getting bigger and the baby keeps moving around more and more, and it’s not comfortable for Kathy but it really is amazing what’s going on inside of her.
My mom is really excited about him too. She’s going into grandma mode and that’s pretty cool because that means free stuff. But she was in California when we found out we were having a boy so I called her and told her and the first thing she did was go shopping. It’s great living close to family. But my whole family is getting excited about our Son. My brother is talking about all the Seahawks stuff that he’s going to buy for him; my sister’s talking about baby sitting. It’s really cool.
I can’t wait to hear his cry. I can’t wait to see his face. I can’t wait to hold him. I can’t wait to teach him how to walk. I can’t wait to wrestle around with him. I can’t wait for his first word. I can’t wait for so much of the stuff he’s going to do, and all along the way I hope to never lose this amazement. I’ve never met my son before, but I know it’s going to really great. And all the anticipation, all the work, all the stuff that we did to get ready for him will be worth it. Because he will finally be here.
But at the same time there is this incredible fear and nervousness that I am dealing with. What if I’m not a good father? What if something’s wrong? What if I drop him? What if I lose him? I’ve never even baby-sat before, I’ve never changed a diaper, I’ve never had a kid puke on me. I am terribly afraid of my Son, because I don’t really know what to expect. I’m anticipating the great times and I’m nervously anticipating the unexpected stuff.
Today we are continuing through our series, “Feeling Deserted”. The title of today’s message is Anticipation. We are going to look at the Israelites coming to Mount Sinai. Israel and God are going to meet here. The Israelites have seen God’s works, but they have never heard God, or seen God. But God wants to speak to them and we are going to look at how they get ready.
So let’s look at Exodus 19
At Mount Sinai
19 In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you a will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.
So God is ready to Show up to the Israelites. Exactly three months after crossing the Red Sea, he wants to speak to them. He wants them to know that they are his treasure. God wants the Israelites to hear it from his mouth. They have seen The Plagues, and they saw the destruction of the Egyptian Army, they ate the Manna, they drank the water. They have seen God move on their behalf in battle, but now they are actually going to hear God.
God talks about them like his children, “I carried you out and brought you to myself.” I held your hand through this whole ordeal, and I holding you and protecting you now. All I ask is that you follow my covenant. And I will continue to protect you; you will all be my children, and my priests.
The reason that God wants to speak to them is because he wants the Israelites to know who he is. And by doing this he is in essence adopting them to be his children. He says, “if you heed my words and follow my commands, you will be my most treasured possession in the whole world.” When I was thinking about this idea of God getting ready to speak to them, I couldn’t help but think about what God was feeling. I bet God was pretty excited about this. I know Israel was anticipating this God moment, but what about God, whose very heart is that of a father, about to meet his children for the first time. That would be so cool. Imagine what his heart felt.
When Moses goes back to tell the Israelites what God has told them, they respond, yeah absolutely. We will do everything God commands. If you know about the story of Israel you know that this was a pretty weak promise on their part. The Israelites constantly rebelled against God, even since they crossed the Red Sea we have seen them grumble and complain.
But Moses Goes back to the Lord and:
9 The LORD said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said.
10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.”
14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”
Moses comes down from the mountain after his conference with God and prepares them. This whole passage is really about getting ready to hear God speak. Getting in a place where God can show up and speak to you. You know I mentioned our soon coming son and the excitement that Kathy and I are going through and all the preparation. Man, if God told me that he was going to come over, you better believe that I would clean up, that I would make the bed put away all the laundry. Mow the lawn. I would do whatever I was told to do. And What are you doing to get ready for God to come? How are you preparing? Are you cleaning up? Are you getting your life put back together? Are you making peace? Are you loving people? Are you seeking forgiveness and healing from your sins?
It’s true that our faith is a come as you are kind of faith, but our hope is that you don’t stay there. We want to give you tools and means to get to where God wants you to be. Following Jesus is an adventure and you wouldn’t hike Mount Everest with out some prep work ahead of time. Prepare for what God is going to speak to you.
16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain b trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. c
20 The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the LORD said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the LORD , must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them.”
23 Moses said to the LORD , “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’”
24 The LORD replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD , or he will break out against them.”
25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
The Ten Commandments
20 And God spoke all these words:
And all these words that God spoke were the Ten Commandments. You know it wasn’t until I was preparing this message that I realized that God didn’t just give the Ten Commandments to Moses on the stone tablets. The whole nation heard God give the Ten Commandments. They all knew what God was saying because they all heard God’s voice. This is the only time that I know of where God spoke to all the Israelites.
God’s Holiness is about to descend upon this mountain. It was so holy that anyone who touched it would have to be killed. That seems a little extreme, but when you’re dealing with God who is perfect and holy and just, even if you’re a good person you don’t come close to matching up to God. I don’t think this is about God being mean, but it’s about reverence, don’t take God for granted. Don’t just think you can bust up mount Sinai, and do whatever you like.
But how do we know God’s here, the blast of a trumpet. This trumpet wasn’t just like Miles Davis playing great Jazz, or the symphony playing some concerto . The Trumpet was used as a warning. Trumpets were used to announce a king’s presence; they were used to declare an enemy’s presence. They were used in battle as signals.
This trumpet was used as a signal that the greatest king of all time was about to make an appearance. And everyone in the Israelite Camp better pay attention.
Could you imagine if you were there what it would have been like? You’re out with your family cleaning out your tent. Maybe you’re trying to wash up your clothes. Take care of some last minute details; make sure you’re totally ready for this moment where anything could happen. Some people who got all this done already might be talking and laughing, and you see Moses and Aaron walking around the camp checking to see that everyone is ready for this moment. And then all of a sudden this startling blast . . .
And a Dark Cloud covers this mountain that you are camped in front of, and fire starts to burn on the mountain. The Closest thing that we have to understand this is a Volcano. But this wasn’t Lava on the mountain. This was fire. God in all his power, all his majesty, and all his glory has descended onto Mt. Sinai. If you weren’t freaked out by the sound of the Trumpet, when you looked up and saw the mountain on fire and covered in smoke you were definitely afraid.
But, all of this stuff that happens wasn’t to just scare people away from God, but to show just how powerful he truly is. How awesome God is. How Dangerous God is. In the Chronicle’s of Narnia there is this Christ Figure, Aslan, and the Children ask Mr. Beaver, “Is he safe?” And Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe, oh no he isn’t Safe. But he is good.”
That’s the image that I get with this story, the dangerous nature of God. Some of us don’t like that image, because we have this image of God as this Sky Fairy, who gives out hugs and gum drops to us, and his son Jesus who is our eternal prom date. But that’s not the picture of God that we get in the Bible. God and his son Jesus are very, very, very powerful and risky and dangerous. God might actually ask you to do something that is going to make you uncomfortable. God might actually bring you to a place where you can’t rely on yourself anymore. God might actually challenge you, if you let him speak to you. But the thing you need to remember is that he’s dangerous, but he’s good. And some of you are clocking out right now because you don’t want God to challenge you, and I guess you’re a coward.
I think I’m speaking to the men here today, because I want you to hear what God would have you to do. I want you to get out of your comfort zone and speak to the God who is going to make you uncomfortable. I want you to obey the God who is going to give you the ride of your life. And by calling you a coward, I’m hoping that I can stir within you the same kind of response that I would have of indignation, “No one calls me a Coward.”
Then prove you’re not. And get into a place where you can listen to God. Get ready for God to speak into your life.
The Band is back up here, and we are going to sing a song, called, Speak to Me. One of the ways that you can get into a place to have God speak to you is through worship, I’ll talk more about that. But listen to the words and sing them from your heart.
Make this song your prayer.
After God spoke this is what the Israelites say. Exodus 20:18
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
They are terrified, because God is so awesome that they think they might die if they hear him speak again. So they want Moses to talk to him and that’s good enough. But that’s not good enough. We want you to speak to God, and we want you to hear from him. And God wants to speak to you. We are supposed to be a kingdom of priests.
You know God is still pretty dangerous. He’s still going to call us to take risks and to follow him and to make sacrifices for him. But he doesn’t just speak to us in these Dark Clouds and Fire and trumpet blasts. Hebrews tells us that we are coming to a different mountain.
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” a 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” b
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?
Man if God is speaking to you, telling you that you’re his child. He loves you, and he has an adventure for you. You better go. Don’t ignore his voice. It’s not the terrifying voice on Mt. Sinai, it’s the voice of Jesus on Mount Zion, saying come, follow me, you won’t regret it.
Do you anticipate hearing from God? Or do you think that’s for another person, another time, that’s the pastor’s job? It’s not. God wants to talk to you just as much as he wants to talk to me or Don, or Dan.
I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t show you ways that God speaks to us today.
So I’m going to give you some take-aways from today’s message. If you feel like God isn’t speaking to you, I have news. He wants to speak to you, and you can get to a place where you hear from him.
Take Aways – Nothing Revolutionary but we need to be reminded from time to time
1. Read your Bible – We are more fortunate than the Israelites in the desert because they didn’t have any of these books. But this is the primary way the God speaks to us today. And when you read – Slow Down, it’s quality not quantity. My Freshman Year at Northwest we had to read the whole bible in a Semester. Guess how much I got out of it. Nothing. I was too busy reading to actually get into my life.
2. Pray – Sometimes you just need to shut up and listen. If you’re thinking “God doesn’t speak to me, I pray and pray and pray, but he doesn’t speak.” Shut the mouth and open the ears. God might be trying to tell you something, but you are talking too much to hear him.
3. Get in a place of Worship – Every Sunday we worship God. We sing songs and we bring God the glory that is due him. But singing isn’t the only way that we can worship God. Some of you can go outside and see God there, and you praise him out in his creation, look at the mountains and say, God, you are so creative. Thank you for all of this creation and beauty that you gave to us, others might worship through work, you thank God for this gifts that he has given you, and you worship him through using them. Whatever it is find a place where you can worship God.
4. Find a community where believers can speak into your life – Hebrews 10:25 Says, let us not give up meeting together as some are in the Habit of doing, but let us spur each other on to love and good works, all the more as we see the day approaching. Find people who can speak into your life and encourage you, and challenge you, people who will hear your dreams and help you accomplish them. God can speak through people, and the cool thing is sometimes those other people don’t even know that God is using them. This takes the forms of community groups, or sometimes it’s your best friends sitting around drinking coffee and talking. But you need this. There are no lone rangers following Christ. Surround yourself by people who can challenge you and spur you on.
God wants to speak to you, and I want to hear what he’s saying to you. I want to know about the adventure that he wants you to embark on. In your listening Guide there are some community group questions, and there is an address to my blog, http://www.jasondeuman.blogspot.com which is an online journal, I would love to hear your responses to those questions, if you have internet access just follow that link, I’m going to post these questions on my blog and I look forward to continuing the Conversation.
Community Group Questions
Who do you think has the most commanding voice? (someone you know or a celebrity, i.e. James Earl Jones)
What do you think it is about that voice that makes it commanding?
What do you think God sounds like?
Has God ever spoken to you? If so was it an audible voice? What did he say?
How can we help you obey God’s voice?
How can we pray for you?
I look forward to any comments you might have.