Post Title: You Go Up, Moses
You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel. - Exodus 19:4-6
At the foot of Sinai, the mount of revelation, the people fail in their high calling. Though they hear God speak, they tremble and prefer to continue walking by sight and not by faith. They tell Moses, “You be the priest, go up the mountain to hear from the LORD, and we will listen to all you have to say.” The word listen in Hebrew has the connotation to obey.
The irony and the spiritual lesson here is that at the moment of Israel’s most significant spiritual opportunity, they suffered their greatest spiritual defeat.
While Moses approaches God and goes up the mountain to receive the Torah for his redeemed people, what do they do? They create and worship a golden calf. The sages note with sorrow that this is the greatest sin in the history of Israel.
Israel falls back, and in falling back they fall down. That should be a sobering thought to each of us in the new covenant, especially to those of us in vocational ministry. Rather than judge, we should see ourselves in the mirror of their experience. How do we respond at the moment of our greatest opportunity—at the moment of divine visitation, supernatural demonstration, and Godly revelation?
Peter correlates this Exodus terminology with the church, for you and me. These texts that we are dealing with have, in a very measurable way, changed my life. God has brought us out of Egypt, saved us through the power of the blood, for his purposes and for his sake. And he applies to us the same terminology that he applies to Israel because we have been grafted in.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 2:4-5
This understanding can literally change your whole outlook on life.
Peter makes it very clear that our salvation is all about being joined together into the construction of a tabernacle (mishkan) in which the Spirit of God can dwell. His glory filled the tabernacle; now, his glory fills his people. We are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy nation of priests offering spiritual sacrifices. In other words, to engage in ministry on behalf of the owner of the house.
This is exciting stuff. Paul uses the same terminology in 1 Corinthians 3. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (vv 16-17). Do you see how powerful this image is to Peter and Paul? They knew the story and the texts from Exodus by heart. It is part of their lives and extraordinary that they would apply it to you and me.
That is why Pentecost (Shavuot) is essential to kingdom people. Without it, we fail to understand our high calling fully, and we fall prey to the temptation to delegate our spirituality to professionals. Ultimately, without it, we are missing some of the most meaningful truths about our great God. I want to give you three characteristics of God and his intent that the feast of Pentecost teaches us.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.