The Foundation of A Gospel that Gathers

Stephen Murray, Speaker

Exodus 19 | March 5 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
March 5
The Foundation of A Gospel that Gathers | Exodus 19
Stephen Murray, Speaker

Well, good evening, friends. It is a great joy to be with you this evening, to be with you these last few days. It’s a quick trip for me. I got in on Friday and I leave again on Tuesday, 25 hours traveling either side of that, but it is fantastic to be with you.

This is a 10-year friendship, 10 years of partnership with Christ Covenant. I’ve known Mike for 10 years and it’s a joy to stand up here and see how much has happened in those 10 years. Back then we were starting one little church plant in the city of Cape Town, now we have five churches and four church plants about to start. Many of those planters are supported workers that you guys are supporting.

I was talking to somebody in the lobby this morning and they were lamenting the fact that they wished they could give more to missions, and I just wanted to encourage them, and encourage you, that the bits you do give make a real world difference on the ground for people. There are men entering the ministry, planting churches, as a result of this particular friendship and partnership. So I do thank you and praise God for this partnership in the Gospel.

If you’ve got a Bible, you can turn to the Old Testament book of Exodus, Exodus chapter 19. Exodus 19, verse 1.

“On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. 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 descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 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, 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.” 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. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.”

“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. And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 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. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.””

“After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.” 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. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 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, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”

“The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 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. Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.” 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.’” 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.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.”

This is the word of the Lord.

It’s also God’s help as we study this together.

Our Father and our King, this is Your truth and we come as people needing to be fed with this truth. So this evening I would ask that You would do that very thing, that You would feed us, that You would fill us up with the truth of Scripture, that You would show us Your Son Jesus, and that we would be changed by what we see. We know this is not an intellectual exercise so we need Your Spirit to work in us to bring about that Gospel change, so we ask for that mercy this evening. Help us now, in Christ’s name. Amen.

So you might have seen in some of the slides, both this morning and this evening, of the theme for this mission conference that we’ve been engaged in over the weekend is the nations are scattering but the Gospel gathers. Now having spent some time in international airports a couple of days ago, it is pretty evident that the nations are scattering. So standing in passport control in the line in Newark airport on Friday morning they were, having come from Cape Town, there were people standing in the line with South African English accents, there were people with Canadian English accents; I’ve been around enough to be able to tell the difference between Canadian and American. There were people with British accents. There were people speaking Arabic. There were people speaking Afrikaans, which is a kind of Creole Dutch language we speak back in South Africa. There were people speaking languages from the Indian subcontinent, I don’t know if it was Tamil or Hindi or Gujarati or any of those, I’m not smart enough.

Racial, ethnic, linguistic diversity everywhere. Nations are scattering. And wars and natural disasters, economic crises, are accelerating that very process. But all of that scattering, what it’s doing is it’s opening up opportunities. It’s opening up opportunities to proclaim the Gospel.

So right now, for example, you can disciple Somalians in Cape Town even though Mogadishu is 3000 miles from Cape Town. You have several neighborhoods in my city where you’re more likely to bump into a Zimbabwean or a Congolese or a Nigerian or a Malawian person than you are a South African. We have wealthy British and German and French folk who make their summer homes in our beachside suburbs in Cape Town. We have all of that even though, relatively speaking, Cape Town is quite a geographically-isolated city. Like I said, it takes 25 hours to get there.

If all of that’s happening in Cape Town, can you imagine the rate at which it is happening in other global cities of this world. So the nations are scattering. We have this opportunity to preach the Gospel, the unchanging Gospel, to these scattering nations, to these people. This, friends, as we’ve said, is a Gospel that will gather. We have confidence that it will actually do what we said on the missions statement it will do.

We have Revelation 7 at the end of your Bible. You go and you look there and you see this heavenly throne room, the final ingathering of every tribe and nation and people and tongue around the throne of God, worshiping, and their wearing white robes, robes that have been washed by the blood of Christ, of the Lamb. They stand fully consecrated together in the presence of their redeeming God. The glorious Gospel of the crucified Messiah has gathered them all in. So it’s going to happen. We’re confident about this.

So what I want to do this evening is I want to spend a few moments thinking about two key foundations to this Gospel that gathers. To do that, we’re in this place here, another place in the Bible where you have a great assembly of people standing before God in consecrated robes. Exodus 19. Now it’s a passage that often gets kind of skipped over because there’s the big thing happening after this, which is the giving of the 10 Commandments, but it’s really a passage that we shouldn’t skip over because a closer reading of this passage shows a part of the Bible that perhaps more than many other places in the Bible gives us this very vivid and very moving picture of who God is and what His intention is toward us.

So I’ve got two very simple points for you this evening. Number one, God is not your buddy. Number two, yet He still wants to be your buddy.

God is not your buddy but He still wants to be your buddy.

Here’s the first one – God is not your buddy.

Generally, I think that when somebody gives you a command or in instruction, the relative social status, your relative social status to that person has a big bearing on how seriously you take that command, right? So for example, if my 11-year-old daughter, if I come to her and I say, “Clean your bedroom,” she very quickly without hesitation, with great joy, replies, “Yes, sir, Daddy dearest, sir.” If… Why are you laughing at that? If her little brother comes to her, her 8-year-old brother, and says, “Clean your bedroom,” she rolls her eyes and says, “Whatever.” The relative social status between the parties makes a huge difference.

So how are we to think of ourselves in relation to God? I think Exodus 19 leaves us in no doubt on that front. Notice a couple of details in the text with me.

Israel having been rescued from Egypt moved to the base of the mountain, to the base of Mount Sinai. Now straightaway as you see that happening, that fact that they’re meeting with God at a mountain, it should make us intuit that there is a discrepancy between the two parties. If you stand on the front stairs of the church that I pastor, we look straight up onto Table Mountain, the entire downtown of Cape Town is under the shadow of Table Mountain. About a third of the way up is a road where the cable car station is for those who are too lazy like me to hike up and want to take the cable car. You go up there and if you stand on the road and you look up, you get an enormous sense of your smallness. There’s just rock going right up into the sky.

Now something like that is happening here, as Israel comes to Mount Sinai. To make that even clearer, look how God instructs Moses to prepare the people for an encounter with Him. So down in verse 10, “The Lord said to Moses go to the people, consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready for the third day because on that day the Lord will come down on Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. They are to be stoned or shot through with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person, no animal shall be permitted to live. Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

Now after Moses had gone down the mountain, the people, to the people he consecrated them, they washed their clothes, and then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day, abstain from sexual relations.”

So God says to Moses, “Consecrate the people.” That is, set them apart for sacred use, that’s what it means. They are to undergo certain ritual cleansings to symbolize this consecration. Their consecration.

Now think as an Israelite for a second here. All this washing that you’re doing with your clothes communicates something to you very clearly. It communicates that you can’t just come any old way to this God. You’ve got to be cleaned up. You’ve got to be consecrated. As I am, as I stand there and I’m doing all this washing, it’s impressed upon me that I’m not fit to go and stand in the presence of this God. But it’s even more stark than that in the text because God says to Moses, “Don’t even let people touch the base of the mountain, and if they do touch the base of the mountain, well, then execute them. Put them to death.”

Then it gets a little bit strange. So don’t just execute them, make sure that when you execute them, you don’t touch them. So it’s a kill them from a distance, basically. Throw stones at them; you’ve got to be a good aim. Throw stones and shoot them full of arrows because if you touch them, well, then you won’t be consecrated. You will be unclean before the Lord.

Now we read a passage like this and I think this unsettles a lot of people with our kind of modern sensibilities. You touch the mountain and you die. There are other passages like this in the Bible. Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. They burn incense to God in worship but they don’t do it exactly the way that they’re commanded to and before they can even start to smell the incense, fire comes out of the presence of the God and consumes them dead.

2 Samuel 6. The ark of the covenant is being transported by oxen. The oxen stumbles and the ark starts to fall and a guy by the name of Uzzah he reaches out as any of us I think would have done and he tries to steady the ark and the minute he touches the ark, God strikes him down dead because of his irreverence, the text says.

Lest you think, well, that’s in the Old Testament, all the crazy stuff happens in the Old Testament, we don’t even really go there in our quiet times because we don’t know how to make sense of that. Well, lest you think that, first of all, read your Old Testament, but second of all, go to the New Testament.

Look at the book of Acts, Acts chapter 5. Ananias and Sapphira, who get struck down for not being completely honest about their donation to the church.

All of these accounts actually take place within the context of some form of worship. I think the message is pretty clear – God cannot be worshiped any old way. That’s not just a suggestion, polite suggestion, it’s a life and death matter.

Now we recoil at that, I think. I as a pastor, I sit down and I look at this text and I start reading it, oh, that’s a bit heavy. Someone touches the base of the mountain and they got shot through with arrows. Why is God so harsh? Why do I recoil? Why do you recoil?

I think there are two options really. Either God is mean and capricious, and we are right to recoil at these sorts of accounts in the Bible, or we, I think, might be missing something. Missing something in our own experience and understanding of God. There is something deficient in our conception of God and by extension our conception of ultimate reality, really.

Now it could be option number one. So it’s like God, maybe God is just this really mean-spirited, pedantic God with an absolute disregard for human life. The problem with that view is the Bible. So you read the Bible and it is just overflowing with compassion and mercy and grace that He continually pours out, page after page after page after page after page after page after page. Human beings reject Him, they sin against Him, they worship false gods, they break His law, they bring misery and suffering upon themselves, and yet page after page after page, and I could keep going for the length of the rest of the sermon, He draws near to them. He offers them forgiveness. He shows them mercy. He looks upon them with kindness and compassion.

In fact, the great high point of the Bible’s story line is God incarnate giving up His life to save sinful, unconsecrated, unclean you and me.

So option number one really doesn’t make any sense of God.

Which leaves us with option two. That recoil that you and I sense is based on deficient understanding that we have of who God is and who we are in relation to Him.

So let me give you a very rudimentary illustration of what I mean. Now I need to be careful with this illustration because there are some holes here if you push it too far, but I do think the general idea holds.

So say one night you sit around what we call a braai. Now in America you call it a barbecue, in South Africa we call it braai. It’s not quite the same, it’s more kind of cooking straight on an open fire with wood. We don’t do any of that low and slow stuff, we just do hot and fast. You’re sitting around a braai, or a barbecue, on this warm summer’s night with a bunch of friends, and I know this happens because I’ve been to North Carolina in the summer, but a little mosquito comes and lands on your knee, and you just swat it dead, without a second thought. You kill it. Dead. Guess what? Nobody at the barbecue bats an eyelid. Nobody. Not a single person bats an eyelid. You don’t bat an eyelid. You don’t recoil. Nobody recoils. Why? Are you uncaring? Are you a callous human being? Cold individual?

It’s not that. The reason that you swat the mosquito dead without even the slightest pinch on your conscience is because there is a gulf between you and that mosquito. There is a qualitative and a quantitative gulf in being between you and the bug. It’s the size of that gulf that makes all of the difference.

If you don’t believe me, think about it this way. Swap out the mosquito for a dog, where the qualitative and quantitative difference is a lot smaller. It’s still big, but it’s a lot smaller. Swat the dog dead at the barbecue and see how that goes down with your friends.

Now I’m trying to make a pretty uncomfortable point here, but necessary point. The gulf between sinful humanity and a holy God practically makes mosquitoes and humans look like peers in comparison. God is so beyond you in ways that you cannot even begin to think about as you sit here this evening. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. You are none of those things.

You’re never going to understand the law of God until you come to terms with this. You’re never going to understand worship. You’re never going to understand your own faith. Can I say you will never truly appreciate the faith that you have until you see the size, the size of the gulf between you and God.

So what you need is you need to be shaken up to this reality.

That’s exactly what the mountain does.

So look down to verse 16: “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning with a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. Everybody in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 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, and the whole mountain trembled violently.”

So thunder, lightning, fire, trumpet blasts, the ground quaking. You stand there in front of all of that and you look at this and you think, well, whatever sense of significance or importance I might think that I have, it just kind of melts away in the furnace that is the Creator God of this universe. In some ways, it’s a pretty crippling and horrifying scene. Your body trembles.

You see, friends God’s not your buddy. Domesticated versions of God where He’s basically just like you but with super powers, they are a grotesque distortion of who He truly is. When you comprehend Him, when you meditate on the infinite, eternal, unchangeable One, there is a part of you that actually should tremble in your bones.

You go back and if you read 17th century Puritan literature, you’ll notice that whenever the Puritans reflect on their inadequacy before God, when they reflect on that gulf, they often use the word “worm” to describe themselves. Sir John Owen in one of his sermons he said this. He said the most glorious exaltation that a creature can have brings him not one step nearer the essence of God than a worm, for between that which is infinite and that which is not infinite there is no proportion.

That’s biblical language so it’s in the Bible. David in Psalm 22 describes himself as a worm before a holy God. Everything I’ve said here, it doesn’t negate that there can be deep personal intimacy with God and we’ll get there in a moment, but I worry, I worry that in our kind of modern evangelical churches we don’t know who God really is, and more than that, we don’t feel who God really is. So we sing songs about God being holy, about God being beyond us, but I worry that we haven’t yet begun to grasp just how holy, how other He is. How beyond us He is. We haven’t felt the ground tremble underneath us. We haven’t heard those peals of thunder and recoiled at the lightning. We haven’t felt that all-consuming heat of the fire.

Many of us might have grown up in churches, I know this is the case in South Africa, but I suspect it’s the same here in the U.S., with the conception of God we grow up in these churches, with the conception of God as this big, friendly guy in the sky, a kind of spiritual Colonel Sanders, or a domesticated deity who’s just sort of a personal therapist, BFF.

That’s not how the Bible presents Him and that is certainly not what Sinai communicates to us. Without understanding that gulf, without understanding that gap between us, you lose so much. You lose so very much. You lose a sense of reverence, you lose a sense of awe and wonder. You lose a sense of urgency and motivation when it comes to obedience and to serving Him. You lose a sense of His power, which you so desperately need when you are going through dark moments in your life.

Friends, Christianity is not going to make any sense to you, it’s not going to come alive with vitality and action, if you do not come to terms with the fact that God is not your buddy. He is the infinite holy One. And you’re a worm by comparison.

This is not only critical for us to grasp at a personal level, but it is a foundational starting point for the mission of the Church. If we don’t see the size of the gulf then we will not see the predicament of humanity, we will not see the urgency of missions, we will not see the necessity of proclaiming the Gospel.

You say, well, see, that’s a bit of a downer. You just called me a worm. How do we respond to this truth? Do we just coil up and cower in the presence of God? Is that all there is for us to do?

Well, here’s the second point – God wants to be your buddy.

Twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Job, Bildad the Shuhite, he expresses basically the same problem that we have. So he says, “Dominion and awe belong to God; He establishes order in the heights of heaven. Can His forces be numbered? On whom does His light not rise? How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of a woman be pure? If even the mood is not bright and the stars are not pure in His eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot – a human being, who is only a worm!”

So God tells Moses tell the people to wash, to consecrate yourselves. But you look at that, and you think, well, how is that little drop in the ocean when it comes to making yourself ready for the presence of God? Here’s the key. The key is what God says right at the very beginning as they come and they camp in Sinai.

Verse 3 – “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 descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 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, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.””

Placing is all important here. So before we get the pyrotechnics display on Sinai, before the thunder, before the earthquake, God says to His people, “Look what I’ve already done for you. Look what I’ve already done for you. I’ve made you Mine. I have such glorious plans for you to be My treasured possession, to be a kingdom of priests.”

At least one of the things that the priest does, and you see this later on in Exodus, is he consecrates himself and then he goes, he goes into the presence of God on behalf of the people. But here God is saying you’re going to be a nation of priests. That is, you will be consecrated and all have access to My presence. You’ll come into My presence as a treasured, precious possession.

How? How did Israel get this? They don’t actually get it through obeying the law. Obedience to the law is a means by which they enjoy these great benefits, but it’s not what gets them into the special relationship in the first place. They get in because God in His pure grace brings them in. It is nothing that they did to merit inclusion. God brought them out of Egypt to Himself.

Salvation is by grace in the Old Testament, salvation is by grace in the New Testament. God gives them the law after He saves them. It’s right at the very beginning of the 10 Commandments, not before. Obedience to the law is never a means of salvation, it is a necessary response to salvation.

God brings them in. God brings them into the special treasured relationship. God bridges the gap between His infinite holiness and our sinful brokenness. You know how He does it? Do you know how He does it? He comes down. Did you notice that?

Look at verse 10: “The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 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.””

Verse 18: “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.”

Verse 20: “The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain.”

As an Israelite, you stand there, you look up this mountain because you assume God is up there on the top of it and that was a common conception in the ancient world, that the gods were on top of the mountains. But the God of the Bible, He is even beyond that because He has to come down just to get to the top of the mountain. He’s like, “I’ve got to take a trip just to get to the top of the mountain.”

But He does come down. He comes down. The gulf is beyond us. We cannot close the gap in the slightest, so God comes down. God condescends.

Friends, it is not just God’s infinite holiness that makes us gaze in kind of dumbstruck awe. It is that in His infinite holiness He would condescend to us, He’d come to us. He’d come to you and me as we sit here this evening. Here’s John Owen again. He says the great contest of heaven and earth is about the affections of the poor worm, which we call man, that the holy God should, as it were, engage in the contest and strive for the affections of man is an effect of infinite condescension and grace.

The thing that should mess with us, the thing that should perplex us about this passage more than anything else, is not why do people get shot with arrows when they touch the base of the mountain, the thing that should perplex us most about this passage is why would God come down and take interest in us. Why? Why would He care about the worm? Why would he welcome the worm into His presence? Why would He describe the worm as His treasured possession?

Can I just stop and speak to those of you maybe who are coming here this evening and you lack self-confidence? Those of you who struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Those of you who feel like a failure. You look at your life and what you have done or failed to do and you feel like a failure, like you don’t deserve or can accept anybody’s love or acceptance.

You know the world comes to you and it says, the world comes and says, “Believe in yourself. Look down deep inside, find out who you are, and believe in yourself. Just block out all the noise of all the other stuff that went wrong. Believe in yourself.”

But friends, that is to put a Band-Aid on the gaping hole that we know is deep down inside each one of us. It’s not going to give you self-confidence. But this will. He, who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, turns to little old you, the worm, and He says, “You’re my treasured possession.”

You cannot get that sort of emotional and psychological security from anything else in this world.

God comes down to us.

And Sinai is just the beginning. In the New Testament, God comes down to us in a way that should make our hearts burst. He comes down to us in Jesus. He takes on frail flesh. He walks in our broken, battered shoes. He tastes death itself, death on a filthy Roman cross, an instrument of execution. At the cross God the Son comes down, is sullied with our sin, and is executed and yet through that sacrificial death, He consecrates us completely. From the inside out. Not just a washing of our clothes, not just cleaning externals. He cleans our heart.

Every uncleanness is laid on Him. His perfect spotlessness is bestowed on us. As a result, we never face execution for our defiling sin. We can approach the mountain unscathed, because in Christ the glory of heaven came down to make that possible.

As one of the Puritan prayers in “The Valley of Vision” collection puts it, “It is amazing love that thou hast sent Thy Son to suffer in my stead, that Thou hast added the Spirit to teach, comfort, guide, that Thou hast allowed the ministry of angels to wall me round; All heaven subserves the welfare of a poor worm.”

Do you hear that last line? “All heaven subserves the welfare of a poor worm.” That’s you and me he’s talking about.

In fact, we don’t just actually approach the base of the mountain. Rather, because Christ came down, we are lifted up. So God says to Moses, “I have carried you on eagles’ wings.” It is precisely because God is not our buddy that this sacrificial condescension and treating us like His buddy is the most profound, heart-altering expression of love and glory that we could every possibly conceive of or think about.

This is the Gospel truth that is at the center of human history. This is the Gospel truth that will gather the scattered nations. This is the Gospel truth that we must preach in season, out of season. So it’s your truth. As you sit here this evening, is it your truth? Is your life built on it? Does it wake you up in the morning?

I’ve tried to use all sorts of different superlatives in this sermon. My original degree was in English creative writing so I should be half decent at this, but I don’t actually have the words to describe God’s infinite holiness, the vast chasm that lies between us and Him, and the inexpressible love that He has shown to us in Jesus. But I just hope and I pray that over these last few moments you have been able to glimpse something of that by faith and therefore run into the arms of that saving grace.

I hope and I pray that this vision will serve as the foundation to motivate you, to motivate you to pray for the mission of the Church, to motivate you to support the mission of the Church, and maybe for some of you to motivate you to go in the advancement of the mission of the Church.

This is what we have. We’re doing, as you heard from the guys this morning, we’re doing ministry in all sorts of diverse, complicated contexts. So I thank God that we have this one, in some ways very simple message, and this is what it is, this is what drives absolutely everything, so I pray it’s at the center of who you are and I thank God that it’s the center of this church and through the work that’s going out through this church.

Let’s pray now. Our Father God, we want to thank You for this vision. It is an uncomfortable vision when we look at it, when we see the Israelites trembling and realize that were we to look carefully, we would tremble as well. But it is a glorious vision when we realize that the condescension that was experienced in part there at Sinai was experienced in full by us when Christ came. Because of that, we are beloved worms. We have Your love in Jesus so we thank You for this grace, Lord. I would pray for anyone who may be sitting here this evening who doesn’t understand that grace, Lord, that You would bring it home to them by the power of Your Spirit. I would pray that You would grant that both through this church and the many supported workers and missionaries that come out of here, this grace would be advanced in this world. We ask for Your help with this for Christ’s sake and His glory. Amen.