Monday, September 20, 2010

Holy People are Presence People

Moses in Exodus 33:16 Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
When you read Exodus it's mostly a book about The Tabernacle yet most people make the ten commandments the big deal...  the jealous God who saved his people out of the hands of the tyranical Pharoah is about imtimate relationship more than he's about passing decrees. We're called to be holy (distinct) people which means we're people with whom God goes. We say "I know whom I've believed" and "the holy Spirit dwells within" me (2 Timothy 1).


  1. "about intimate relationship more than he's about passing decrees"

    In what sense "more"?

    The 10 commandments do have a pivotal place in the book. The law is 'good', and comes before the Tabernacle. God with us may be the goal (I'd disagree slightly and say that the goal is presence in the land), but the 10 commandments are the qualification for that. A qualification we fail to meet, but a qualification nevertheless.

    Which is "more" important, the foundation or the house built on it? The question makes no sense! But the law is the foundation on which God's presence is built.

    Of course in the OT the foundation is rotten, because humanity cannot keep the law so the presence of God is temporary and partial (incidentally, behind thick curtains is not what I'd call "intimate relationship"). But in the NT the law is fulfilled, and Christ is the cornerstone in the temple of God.

  2. I do agree with your big point though. Sorry if I didn't give that impression. See my post on Exodus, which is one of the better things I've written this year.

  3. I guess it's just really struck me that, attempting to put the perhaps exaggerated emphasis on the 10 commandments aside, when reading Exodus they're not that pivotal. The bigger deal at Sinai is "don't touch the mountain or you'll die" in the previous chapter... and it's "let them go to serve/worship me on the mountain" (not obey my 10 commandments).

    I'm not saying they're not important, but perhaps they're sometimes overemphasised - and especially in the way when people say the word "law" they think of them - when it's a whole lot bigger category, and one that is probably more about The Tabernacle than those words...

    I'm also pondering the Biblical Theology side of it... how much more attention is given to the 10 commandments scripturally, by comparison to the vast amount of attention to The Tabernacle / Temple. And I wonder whether our skewing of this leads us to the "God as law giver and decree maker" more than "God of relationship" view that I keep running into, especially among "conservative evangelicals".

    Pondering really.

  4. Argh... I wrote a long response and blogger ate it.

    In short it said:
    1. Can't we integrate 10 commandments, "don't touch the mountain", "worship", and "God as relationship"? 10Cs are God coming close and speaking to us (him in relationship with us) so bringing wrath against sin (so don't touch) and indicating the heart of worship (love of God and neighbour).
    2. Actually, 10Cs run though all of chapters 19-40. Things to note are:
    (a) that they are the only thing God says to people of Israel unmediated by Moses.
    (b) they have the central place in the tabernacle itself
    (c) the saga of them being written, broken and written again is intimately linked to the whole question of whether God will go with his people in the Tabernacle.
    (d) The author frames all Moses's significant trips up the mountain with accounts of the tablets. References to them have important places in literary structure.

    Try tracing the 10Cs/tablets through 19-40 and work out what is happening with them at any one time, and then seeing how that links to "God as relationship" and I think pivotal may not seem such a bad word after all.

  5. Its a fair comment and needs some thought on my part!