Only By His Grace!
INTERESTING FACTS : The Bible was the first Book ever printed on a press. The first one was printed on the Gutenberg press in the 1450's. The first American printing was in an Indian language in 1663.
DAILY READING : [Exodus 19 - 21]
TEXT : Exo 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: Exo 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Exo 19:7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. Exo 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
THEME : God's Grace
In chapter nineteen, Moses meets the Lord on Sinai. Here, God gives Moses the Law and instructions for Israel. The Lord promises to make them a "peculiar treasure" to Himself if they will obey His commands. During their history, they would have periods of obedience and blessing. Yet, for the most part, the history of Israel is one of unbelief and judgments. As one generation passed and another took its place, the unbelief - except for brief periods of national revival - was one of a continuous spiraling downward away from God's presence. Therefore, Israel nullified the promises made in the Covenant by their disobedience.
The coming of the Lord and His presence on the mountain is a fearsome sight. His holy nature prevents anyone except Moses to be in His immediate presence. God is careful to warn the people through Moses not to come near the mountain. God states no flesh shall see Him and live. Moses, of course, is an exception. Yet, it begs the question why Moses is the exception. Moses himself, as Isaiah would repeat centuries later in a similar statement, admitted he was a man of uncircumcised lips. [Exo 6:30; Isa 6:5] Why then, was Moses permitted to be in God's Presence [though Moses only saw God's back, not His face] when others were not?
When we read of Noah in Genesis, we observe that he found grace in God's eyes. ["But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Gen. 6:8] The Bible is clear on the subject of sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, there is no merit in Moses. Rather, it is all in God's Hands. Later, when God passes by Moses, who is hid in the cleft of the rock, we read - "And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy." [Exo 33:19] This is a statement of God's benevolence and love. Further, Moses has a special call on his life that God had been preserving for His purposes from the day Moses was floating in the small ark on the river. Nevertheless, in both cases only God's grace permits Moses to be in His presence. It is not in Moses hands, or the children of Israel, but God's.
TRUTH FOR TODAY : ONLY BY HIS GRACE!
God delivers the Ten Commandments to Moses in chapter twenty, along with other aspects of "The Law." We learn from reading our New Testament that God gave Israel the Law as a standard by which to measure holiness and righteousness. God added the Law to be a schoolmaster and to lead us to Christ. In Galatians chapter three we read -
Gal 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Gal 3:20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Before God gave the Law to Israel, all of God's people lived by faith. This is the foundation of the covenant with Abraham. That is, when God told Abraham he would be a great nation, he believed God. God then, credited or ascribed righteousness to Abraham. He did not work for it, or earn it. God is too Holy, and Man too sinful for anyone to earn his or her way to Heaven. God has to grant it. It is a gift. This is grace. It is the gift of God, given to us when we believe as Abraham believed. The Apostle Paul wrote -
"For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Rom 4:2 - 5] Paul writes again -
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were."
We learn much about God from reading the Old Testament. In particular, when we read the Law, we realize how holy God is. When we read and understand, this causes us to grasp we fall short of God's Holy Law. This then, leads us to ask for mercy instead of judgment. Finally, God grants pardon and forgiveness - through the atonement of Christ, to all who believe. We must always remember being in God's presence forever in His Kingdom is only by His grace!