Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Wedding ceremony: Promises sealed in blood (Exodus 24v3-8)

DOWNLOAD MP3: Exodus 24

In Exodus 24 we’re in the middle of the giving of the law, what we're expecting from God might not be very attractive... but we find ourselves at a wedding. Moses comes down the mountain and v3: ‘told the people all the LORD's words and laws’  

And: they responded with one voice, "Everything the LORD has said we will do."’ They hear the word of God and they respond with faith. Result! That’s what the word of God does – it produces faith in the hearer – a gift from God when his word is proclaimed. Beautiful when that happens – you’re reading the Bible and you believe it!!

The Triune God is present through his word – and in the presence of God they make their vows. They trust Jesus who saved them out of Egypt as he calls them to a distinctive life, until he comes to save the world. Next day Moses reads the words again and they response the same way, and then Moses throws blood on them.... 

Why? What is going on? They have faith in God’s word but wont be faithful. They grumble against God. They’ll run adulterously after other lovers in Exodus 32 in giving their hearts to a golden calf. They are more loved than they can begin to imagine – the LORD has fought for them, to have them out of the clutches of the tyrant Pharaoh but their hearts are stubborn and adulterous towards their God.

Because the love of God is real he is jealous for his people. It’s even a name reveals for himself in Exodus 20v5: “I the LORD your God am a jealous God.” And Exodus 34:14: “the LORD whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” He is not ambivalent to (spiritual) adultery – and in his jealous love, he rightly burns in anger against their unfaithfulness. Sin isn't just rule-breaking it's a matter of the heart.The rebel heart and the sinful flesh must be put to death. Either they die or a substitute dies in their place, Here, v5, a burnt offering – the blood of bulls.

In the presence of God they have made their vows, promises sealed in blood. We were at a wedding yesterday in Southampton on our way up to Arborfield – a Christian marriage, whose integrity isn’t finally in the ability of Brian and Becca to be faithful to one another, but in Jesus whose blood was shed for them.
Their hearts will wander but Jesus blood will never fail them.
And that’s the only way marriage works isn’t it?
I’m not saying you can’t do marriage if you don’t believe in Jesus, but I’m just not sure how it’s possible. Without the gospel of Jesus I wouldn’t be called daily to die to my sin, to lay my life down for my wife, and wouldn’t have the forgiveness and power for such a cruciform life…
The integrity of God’s marriage to his people doesn’t depend on their faithfulness but upon the death of the divine husband, Jesus. All of this points forward 1400 years to the death of Jesus in history.
There we see that we’re not Christians because we’re devout enough.
It’s not that we have more faith than other people.
We are not Christians because we can be like the Queen of Diamonds in Alice through the looking glass – taking a deep breath, closing our eyes and managing to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
No – we are Christians because of the blood of Jesus.
Or, as John Calvin put it:
 “without the gospel, everything is useless and vain, without the gospel, we are not Christians”
At the wedding ceremony of Exodus 24 promises have been sealed in blood, so next the food – to intimacy secured by blood....

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