Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sermon Idea Number - 7 -

Suggested Titles:

The Lord, the Lord.
The Lord proclaims . . .
Who is God (part two, three . . .)

Passage:

Exodus 34, especially 34:6-7

Passage Overview – some highlights:

This passage set in the larger context of Exodus 34 following the famous “Golden Calf” incident is, like Exodus 3 (see notes there), one of the few places in the stories of Exodus where God describes God’s own identity. God speaks to Moses here – it’s not Moses telling God who God is. It’s God describing God! And, these verses of Ex. 34:6-7 are repeated several other places in the Old Testament showing us that they become a sort of “Credo of Faith” that summarizes who God is. Note as well that since this story comes after the Golden Calf incident, it “proves” in its larger context that God really is a God who forgives and shows compassion.

Important Specific Concepts:

The verses themselves say more than can be summarized here, but note that the larger emphasis is on the “loving” side of God – compassionate, gracious. And yet, the full declaration of God includes rules and obligations and commitments. As we’ve already seen in Exodus – God doesn’t set them free to be do whatever they want or to enter anarchy – God’s rules have demands and expectations and while the first and larger identity of God is “compassionate, etc.” – and that to the thousandth(!) generation – there is also punishment for the “guilty,” but notice – only to the third and fourth generation.

In a sense, God is “both” loving” and “punishing” but the larger context of this story and the “thousandth” generation over against “four” generations shows what God is “more like.”

Also, note that when Moses responds to God he “bows to worship” as all Israelites should do –and, what is more, in Ex. 34:11 he is told to “obey the commands.” This idea of obeying commands will become important because we’ll see God expects the same thing of Joshua (see Joshua 1 or Deuteronomy 6 sermon ideas.) God’s expectations for God’s people don’t change – God consistently expects obedience/allegiance.

Ideas for Illustrations:

Tell a story about someone describing themselves over against someone else describing them. How is a person better qualified to describe themselves.

Perhaps tell a personal story about how in a certain position (parent, teacher, preacher) you (or someone you know) exemplifies certain qualities or characteristics – but at other times has to exemplify seemingly opposite qualities. For example, a fireman is notably kind, helpful, but in certain situations of crisis, when a fireman yells/demands, it’s not that the fireman is no longer kind, but certain situations require a different “kindness.”

Ideas for Wrapping Up - Response - Call:

If God expects obedience from all the Israelites, from Moses here, and later from persons like Joshua, no doubt he expects the same from us.

This sermon would no doubt conclude well with a call to faith for God’s grace.

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