Category Archives: Exodus

Israel: A Nation is Born

Title: Israel: A Nation is Born

Text: The Pentateuch

Introduction: The Pentateuch is the name given for the first 5 books of the Bible. Often times you’ll hear it called the Law or as it is known in Hebrew, the Torah. It is these books that give us a foundation for understanding our faith and religion. We understand better who we are through these books. We understand how we got to where we are through these books; that is, our beginnings and our journey. The world makes more sense to us when we get this background information. These five books provide the foundation for the rest of the story.

We’re in the midst of a sermon series entitled: His Story. We’ve looked at Creation and the perfection of the Garden of Eden. We next covered life in the Fall. Last week we covered the Patriarchs from Abraham down through the 12 sons of Israel. And that is where we pick up this morning, with the 12 sons and how they grow into a nation.

Let’s walk through these five books this morning to see a nation come into existence.

I. Genesis

exp.: Genesis presents the stories of Creation, the Fall, and presents God’s plan of redemption through Abraham…

  • Abraham (had Ishmael & Isaac)
  • Isaac (had Esau and Jacob)
  • Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel, had 12 sons
  • The 12

Israel had 4 wives. The one he apparently loved the most was Rachel. She died while giving birth to Benjamin, his 12th son. The two boys she gave him were his favorites. And Joseph, the oldest of the two, was doted upon without hesitation in front of the others. Joseph’s apparent arrogance didn’t help matters either.

You see, Rachel was the wife he loved the most, but she was the wife who bore Israel no children. And for a woman who was barren – a common theme we see throughout His Story – the shame was almost unbearable. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was considered barren. Rebekah, Isaac’s wife was, too. And it appeared, Rachel was, too. So here is this man who loves this wife more than the others and when she has a son, he is most cherished. She dies giving birth to another son. You can understand why Israel might have favored these two more than the others. They were growing up without a momma.

But Israel’s favoritism and Joseph’s arrogance led to a lot of heartache. Some of the older 10 brothers wanted to kill him, but sold him as a slave to some of their distant cousins, Midianites, descendants of Ishmael, who were headed down to Egypt.

Summed up: God used the mess of their family to get Joseph down to Egypt, where the whole family would eventually come to be saved. At first he was a slave, then a prisoner. But God took him from the lowest of places and raised him up to be 2nd in command of all of Egypt. And though it seems harsh, it would be Joseph’s unfortunate circumstances of slavery and imprisonment that would provide for him a move to be 2nd in Command of all Egypt. His family in Israel would have to come to him for food during a horrible famine and Joseph would keep them there, providing for them – saving them.

t.s.: And there they would stay for 100’s of years as they multiplied and filled the land. Let me show you:

II. The Exodus

exp.: According to Exodus 1.5, there were 70 people in Israel’s family that moved down to Egypt. rd 1.5-7; this sounds like the covenant with Adam and with Noah – be fruitful and multiply… But a ruler would rise to power who did not know Joseph and was bothered by their increase in numbers. So he enslaved them. Basically, Exodus 1 covers 400 years of history. Chapter 2 covers 80 years, the 1st 80 years of Moses’ life. From Exodus 3 through Leviticus and to the middle of Numbers covers about 15 months.

At the age of 80, Moses returns to Egypt to lead his people out of Egypt as a free people. There in the wilderness they would get organized. They would learn what it means to be God’s people. They would be structured for mobility. They would be given ample opportunity to grow in their faith.

God will perform incredible miracles before them to help them come to faith in Him.

  1. The 10 plagues
  2. The Cloud by day and the Pillar of fire by night.
  3. The parting of the Red Sea; crossing on dry ground and then, drowning Pharaoh and his army.
  4. Bitter water turned into something they could drink.
  5. Manna
  6. Water from the Rock
  7. At Mt. Sinai, they beheld the glory of God in the peals of thunder and lightning, smoke, fire, trumpet blasts…

…where God gives his people his commandments and laws. For these first few months the Israelites set up camp and God would be outside their camp. They’re probably camping in their tribes and clans, but there seems to be no order or structure to their set up.

The picture was clear: God was saving his people. Now, he would do what he must to make them a people worthy of being called his people.

God called Moses to come up to the Mountain at Sinai to receive his commands – commands these people needed to learn. By the way: this was their request. They begged Moses to intercede for them. God was too ‘scary’ for them. They were too terrified to get anywhere near God. So, they begged Moses to intercede for them. He would go and visit with God and then come back and tell them what God said.

But, while Moses was up on the mountain of God, the people lost faith. Moses didn’t return for a long time and so they asked Aaron to make them another god of gold, a calf. Big mistake!

God was so angry with them that he was going to destroy them. But, Moses interceded for them and God relented from destroying them.

Summed up: In the book of Exodus the people are set free and brought out to the Wilderness of Sinai. There God gives them the 10 commandments and establishes a place for Him to dwell in their midst. The rest of the book is filled with instructions for constructing the place where God’s presence would dwell among the people. This place is called the Tabernacle. In this book, the tabernacle is built and the Glory of God moves into the Tabernacle.

t.s.: There is still so much for them to learn, though. A lot is happening here and very quickly. Which brings us to the book of Leviticus

III. Leviticus

exp.: The book of Leviticus is basically more instruction. The Laws that would make them different and distinct from all other people are given in Leviticus. God gives them his precepts, laws and commandments to follow so that they would become more like him and image him to the world… they would be distinct and different from all other people in the world. Then, they could be with him: he would be their God and they would be his people.

You see, up to this point there was just one problem preventing him from dwelling in the midst: their sin. You see, God is perfect and holy. They are not. And the two don’t mix.

The one thing the laws of Leviticus would demonstrate to them was their sinfulness and their great need for atonement.

Think about this: since the beginning of creation man has rebelled against God and done things his own way. From the first bite of the forbidden fruit to Abel killing his brother to …. Man’s standard has been to rebel against God. Man’s standard is sin. God’s standard is holiness. When I say ‘holiness’ think: perfection, clean, uncommon, unblemished, unmarked, pure, and righteous in every way. The law was given to show his people that they were sinners, imperfect, common and unclean, blemished, marked, impure and unrighteous in every way. – They were the antithesis of Him. To be with Him, their sin would have to be removed – it would have to be atoned for.

So, laws were set in place to show the standard of perfection. The punishment for rebellion against God’s law was death. But, to demonstrate God’s great love for his people, he gave them the sacrificial system to pay the penalty and take the punishment for them. The idea was that they didn’t have to die; a substitute could be sacrificed on their behalf. Then, through faith in God through that sacrifice, they could be holy and have a relationship with Him.

God instructs them to build a ‘place’ for him. Really, no place can contain him, but they need something to demonstrate the presence of God. So instructions are set for a Tabernacle to be built. This Tabernacle will be a holy place and the inner part where God dwells will be the most holy place (holy of holies). This is all very new to them. Their whole lives have been spent in slavery. They’ve only known what has been passed down through oral tradition. Now, God has saved them and set them up so that He might dwell with them; that He might Tabernacle with them, that He might pitch His tent in the midst of theirs.

So a standard is set and a redemption policy is put in place to accommodate their failure. We read about this in Leviticus 16 – it is called the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Their sinful state is described in 17-18. And by the time we get to 19, we see the holiness of God and the call for His people to be holy. Rd 19.1-2; 1And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. And the call is repeated throughout Leviticus: Be Holy as I am Holy.

Transition: Once God teaches them of his standard, then he moves to set them in place so that He might dwell in their midst. And that leads us to the book of Numbers.

IV. Numbers

exp.: It is here in Numbers that they get organized. God has taught them that He is holy and they must be holy to be with him. And then to demonstrate this, he moved them around Him. No longer was he outside of where they camped – or I guess better understood, no more were they outside and away from him…now they were around him…literally, surrounding him.

Let me show you what I mean:

  1. Exodus 33.7-11: The Tent of Meeting

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

  1. Numbers 2
    1. East: Judah, Issachar, Zebulun
    2. South: Reuben, Simeon, Gad
    3. Levites around the Tabernacle
    4. West: Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin
    5. North: Dan, Asher, Naphtali

And by his commands, sin was to be taken outside the camp. They would take a shovel with them outside of the camp to go to the bathroom. If someone was sick or unclean, they would be sent outside the camp.

Once everything was set, they celebrated the Passover – for the 2nd time. So, they’ve been out there for a year, learning about what it means to be God’s people. After the Passover, God said it was time to move out and head to their new home – The Promised Land! And he gave them specific instructions on how they would travel.

And they do, just as God had established. From now on until they enter the land, they would move this way; they would camp this way with God dwelling in their midst. Look at Numbers 9.15-23; And in Chapter 10 they take off. By the next chapter they’re complaining again! Even Miriam and Aaron get in on dogging Moses in Chapter 12. By Chapter 13 they arrive just outside the Promised Land. Finally, freedom from slavery and the opportunity to experience Eden Restored, God dwelling in their midst, and a land flowing with milk and honey. All they have to do is follow God into the land.

Then God does something very interesting: he orders Moses to send in spies to spy out the land. One man from each tribe. I’m sure you know the story by now: the 12 came back with the most wonderful stories, but 10 of them had fear in their eyes. We can’t do it. They’re too big! Remember the Nephilim of Genesis 6? Well, they’re here in Numbers, too. 10 of the 12 Spies told the people to turn back and surrender to Egypt. If they go into the Promised Land, they’ll all die. Better to take their chances in the desert – to die trying to get back to Egypt by way of the desert. If they continue into the Promised Land, their children will become prey to these Giants in the Land.

Man, they upset God one time too many. He told Moses once again, Get out of the way. I’m gonna kill them all! I’ll raise up a new nation with you. But Moses pleads with God and intercedes for the people once again. We pick up where Moses has interceded for them. Look at Numbers 14.20-23; 28-35;

So God gives them just what they asked for. They will all die in the desert and their children, all of those alive 20 and under will enter the land. Only Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who encouraged obedience and trust, would enter into the land.

app.: And that is just what happens. One by one, beginning with the 10 that led the people astray, they all die.

t.s.: Over the next 40 years all will die who were in the Census – that is, 20 years old and older. Only Caleb and Joshua will enter the land.

V. Deuteronomy

exp.: Deuteronomy means 2nd Law. This book is about this 2nd generation preparing to enter into the Promised Land that their parents and grandparents rejected. Moses presents the Law to them again and leads them to make a covenant with God.

Application: there are so many points where we could apply this story to ours.

  • The Holiness of God. How often do we forget how awesome and great God is in His Holiness? How often do we treat Him with contempt by making Him common in our eyes?
  • The sinfulness of man and the need for forgiveness and atonement. Do we realize the wickedness of our hearts? Do surround ourselves with so much of the world and sinfulness that we become callused to our own depravity?
  • We as God’s people are to image God to a lost world just as they were supposed to do. How are we doing in that?
    • Do the leaders lead people astray because they’re scared or don’t like what they find as God is leading? Leader: are you more like Joshua and Caleb or more like the 10 whose names we don’t remember?
    • As a follower, are you pressing onward in faith? Or, do you find yourself grumbling and complaining against the leadership, the ministry, or God himself? How are we doing with that?

I worry, though, in pressing for application, that we would forget the point of these stories all being tied together; it is too easy to forget about the Snake Crusher and the Lion from the Tribe of Judah who would be King when you get lost in the stories, chapter after chapter and book after book. But really, God is reminding them all along; they’re just not listening. And the same goes for you and me.

Conclusion: It truly is amazing to see this storyline being written throughout all of history. Here today we’ve seen a nation come out from Egypt and be set free from their slavery. Moses led them. But this Moses was not the Snake Crusher. He’s not the lion of Judah, but rather a descendant of Levi.

Look at Deuteronomy 18.15-18; yes, there will be many prophets who will rise up and lead them, sharing God’s Word with them. But here is a prophecy about the One who is coming. A reminder that He is the one who will crush the head of the serpent and is Abraham’s son, and is the lion from the tribe of Judah and will be a prophet like Moses – a rescuer, ruler and redeemer, as Stephen calls him in Acts 7. Don’t miss that now. Stephen is reminding them that they have been looking for this Promised One… ‘the Prophet’ as he is known. Peter does the same thing in Acts 3.22 when proclaiming Christ in the Temple.

Each Gospel points out that the Israelites were looking for this Promised One (Mt 17.5; Mk 9.7; Lk 9.35) Jn 1.1-25; 5.45-47; Jesus is very plainly telling them right here that He is the One they’ve have been hearing about all of their lives. He is the one they have been waiting for.

If you’ve not heard, let me share with you, his name is Jesus. He fulfilled all of these promises and more we’ve not even looked at yet. He is the one this story is all about.

Let’s pray…

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Filed under Deuteronomy, Exodus, Genesis, Israel, Leviticus, Numbers, Sermon

Exodus 32

Title: We Need A Hero!

Text: Exodus 32

Introduction: We’re in the book of Exodus this morning. I’ve decided to leave Mark for a couple of weeks. I’ve planned to reach the resurrection by Easter Sunday morning taking in a couple of other texts along the way.

The book of Exodus (the 2nd book of Moses) is all about how God brings his people out of Egypt, from slavery to Mount Sinai and freedom, to give them his law and establish them as his people. They strike a covenant with God in chapter 24, agreeing to his commands listed in chapters 20-23. They celebrate this covenant by sacrificing burnt offerings and peace offerings to God (24). God then calls Moses back up onto the mountain and gives Moses the requirements in detail for making all of the items used in worship, from the Altar to the Ark. He furthermore, supplies the gifted men needed to accomplish such a huge task. Finally, he sets the Sabbath as a token or a sign of the covenant between them throughout the ages (25-31).

In our story today, God finishes giving this information to Moses and gives him also the two tablets, telling him to go down to this rebellious people, for God is about to destroy this people for their rebellion and rejection of him. The people had Aaron fashion them a golden calf and were offering burnt offerings and peace offerings to it. They have worshipped a god of gold rather than Yahweh. They’ve created a graven image and it appears they’ve been engaging in sexual immorality (2 Cor 10.7). God will now destroy them and begin again with Moses. But they have one thing going for them in our story: Moses intercedes for them and God relents from this calamity.

Now this story is so interesting to me, because there are questions that abound:

  1. Why didn’t God just kill them?
  2. Does God actually change his mind when Moses ‘reminds’ him of a couple of things: namely, the covenant with Abraham and the reputation of his name?
  3. Was Moses gone that long, that the people actually forgot about God and their covenant with him?

I hope to answer these questions as we make our way through this passage today and others, as we encounter them.

Transition: Now that we’ve read the passage and reviewed it with some context, I’d like to list a few points I believe Moses is making here.

I.     Man has a natural tendency to fill a vacancy in his soul (1-7)

exp.: That’s really what we learn from the Israelites. These people have never known freedom. Ever. Sure, their ancestors did, but these folks probably never knew the wonderful existence of an Eden type of Goshen they lived in. Chapter 1 teaches us that centuries have passed. The amount of time that has passed from the 70 who came down from Israel to Egypt to the time in our story is about the same amount of time that the 1st settlers came over from England until now. That long!

These folks have had enough time of being slaves and making bricks that they have built for Pharaoh store cities: Pithom and Raamses. Their toil has been hard and unbelievably cruel. Haugen, as copied by Blackburn in his book The God who Makes himself Known: The missionary heart of the book of Exodus.

Brick making operations are big business in several developing nations. Usually resembling a rustic fortress, most are surrounded by walls 7 or 8 feet high– to keep brick poachers out, and to keep slave laborers in. Coating everything within the walls with gray– red dust and soot…. The kilns required extra labor, because someone has to stoke the charcoal first constantly to keep them at their optimum temperature. This is one of the worst jobs in an operation defined by awful jobs–excruciatingly hot, dirty, and sticky, the workers covered with charcoal dust that mixes with the dust of clay and dirt until sweat soaked skin begins to harden and crack.

Before the bricks are ready for the kiln, they must be shaped and pre-dried in the sun. All day long, slaves performed the backbreaking labor of packing wet clay and straw into molds that formed the bricks. They slapped the clay into the molds forming row after row, then other workers, usually children, carry the bricks on their heads to set them out in the sun to dry. When they are dry enough to fire, the slaves carry them to the kiln to be baked. Hour after hour, day after day, weeks that flow into months, months that turned into years… some of these slaves have been in this dirty, tedious, painful work for decades with no relief in sight. Until now.

Even as they’ve been set free for but a couple of months (the period of time from chapter three through Leviticus and most of Numbers is about a year. In Numbers 14, the rebel for the last time, before God banishes them from the Promised Land and they wander in the desert for 40 years), so they’ve only been free for a couple of months – they don’t know what it’s like to not follow someone. Honestly, I think it is innate.

Here is a truth we learn: A Vacancy creates a Vacuum. The Israelites needed someone to go before them; So they say to Aaron: Up, make us gods; the word is Elohim. Moses was Yahweh’s representative. Moses is gone! Who knows if he’ll ever come back? We need to make us something to take his place.

  • Their desire comes from what they see; they credit Moses with their delivery; Now, they see him no more! Aaron will need to take his place and they’ll need a ‘god’ to go before them.
  • They use what God has provided and fashion for themselves a god that they can see, one that can go before them. Isn’t that so human like? Paul nails this condition in Romans 1. That is also where we see much of America today – this rejection of God’s image and a perversion of worshipping the created things.
  • They use Aaron, the priest to accomplish this task; which, again is a twisted perversion of his purpose; These are the ‘elohim’ who brought you out of Egypt;

Why a calf? It symbolizes the fertility idols often represented. It is that time of the year, they see cows calving and so they think: a golden calf. This also contributes to the idea immorality was a part of their celebration. The wording in v6 intimates immorality: rose up to play. We also find this quote in 1 Corinthians 10 where Paul calls these people idolaters and sexually immoral.

app.: Man, we sit here today and know how foolish these people are! Right? But, are we not at the core of our beings just like them. Now, we know we can’t form or fashion a God with our own hands. But we still do! We take our wants and wishes and make them into what we want them to be! They become our gods.

t.s.: the first lesson we learn from this passage is that Man has a natural tendency to fill a vacancy in his soul. 2ndly,

II.    Man needs a mediator to intercede to God on his behalf (8-24)

exp.: This is an example of intercession for us; Moses intercedes for them; I know this creates a dissonance in your soul, but hang with me. This confusion or dissonance comes from the question: How can God be Sovereign and yet, change his mind?

  1. I believe God to be sovereign. Period. In moments like this, I understand God ordaining circumstances to teach us and show us Biblical Truth; in this story, God is demonstrating for us intercession. From Genesis to this point in the Bible, we’ve not seen something like this before.

Ill.: What isn’t happening is God deciding to kill them all! But, Moses says, Lord, you can’t! Remember Abraham? Oh, yeah, God might say, I forgot about that covenant. Thanks for reminding me, Moses. No, God hasn’t forgotten. He’s teaching us something here. In theological language, what we have here is a type of Christ. A mediator. Moses is demonstrating in the flesh and imperfectly (I might say) just what Christ has come and accomplished only perfectly for us.

  1. But notice even more, the personal relationship Moses has with God. God is personal and personally involved in our lives, just as he was with Moses and the Israelites.

A word of caution: Don’t detach the personal side of God and make him like some automated teller. This is a huge danger for us as theologians. You and I have a tendency to impersonalize God when we begin to comprehend his sovereignty.

ill.: The prayers of a new believer are usually personal and intimate. But, as time shapes our theology and we gain an understanding that God is sovereign, we usually become more distant, less personal, less intimate, fewer tears, just ‘matter of fact’ lists. We see him less and less as ‘Father’ and more and more as ‘Master’. I believe God wants us to ask him, petition his throne for healing and changes of direction and intervention into our lives, our children’s lives, our parents’ lives, the lives of the lost people we know. God wants a personal relationship with you.

app.: that’s the point here: God is a personal God. This was Jesus’ point, too. He said: When you pray, Pray: Our Father

app.: if you miss everything else in my message today, that’s ok, just don’t miss this! God wants a personal relationship with you.

t.s.: But there is a problem…and it is the 3rd truth here in our story.

III.   Man is insufficiently capable of remedying his own predicament. (30-35)

exp.: in our story Moses intercedes for the people, God relents, and turns away from the destruction that should come.

Ill.: Russell Moore tells the story of a church that set up on their website a confessional so that their people could come to that webpage, confess their sins and feel forgiven. In his story he said it was a Baptist Church. Oh, if it were only that easy! Just go to a webpage and fess up! Then you’ll be absolved!

Rd v 30; How, how can he possibly make atonement? Rd v 31-32; I don’t think this is the Book of Life which has the names of those who are saved in it. It could be, mind you. But I lean toward it not being. I found multiple references to stories of books being kept of a people. When a person was born, their name was recorded in a book, a registry for that village. When a person died, their name was blotted out. I think what Moses is saying here is – I know that this people has sinned a sin worthy of death. Instead of blotting out their names from your book by putting them to death… let me die for them instead. Let me atone for their sins by dying in their place.

God said in v 33 – No, each person will pay for their own sin. Rd v 34-35. Doesn’t the plea of Moses have a ring of what Christ did for us?

app.: This is precisely what Moses is doing or better yet, what God is doing through Moses in this chapter – he is drawing for us a picture of our need for a savior to come and save us from our sin. Moses couldn’t be that for them. In the coming year, as they travel toward the promised land, God will outline for them the requirement – the just penalty for their sin and the required sacrifice. Only one person could ever pay that price for them – or for you and me.

t.s.:

Conclusion: That’s Jesus…

 

Application:

  1. The Bible teaches us that we are sinners. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.
  2. It teaches us that our sinful actions deserve a swift punishment of death. There is no avoiding this.
  3. But the Bible teaches us that God, being rich in mercy, sent his son to die for the ungodly, that is you and me. Exodus 34.6-8
  4. He was hung on a cross and died between two thieves. He was assigned a grave, but he would not stay there. Jesus proved he was and is God, by rising from the dead 3 days later.
  5. And by putting your faith in him this morning, you can be assured that your sins are forgiven – that Christ paid the penalty they bring and that you can be set free from that penalty of eternal death – that is separation from God. And spend not just eternity with God, but every day from hear on out.

If you’ve never accepted Christ before, I offer him to you this morning.

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My Philosophy of Ministry

Some time ago, I began teaching a Bible Study Class on Sunday morning. The topic for the summer was Membership Matters. After finishing the introduction, the members of my class asked me to post my lesson online. I thought that was a good idea and so here it goes.

Basically, the introduction to the class is an overall statement of my philosophy of ministry. I’ve never hidden the idea that I am no ‘typical’ pastor. I do not like the ‘Cruise Ship’ mentality of many churches today. Travel to any town and you’re likely to find churches that focus their growth upon one of two different things:

  • A Personality
  • A Program

Some folks go to a church because they like the pastor or the student pastor or any one of the great men serving in the church. Others go to a church were there is a dynamic program. They love the worship service or the Choir program. Maybe they like the youth ministry that a church has. The only problem with organizing your church around a personality or a program is that the dynamic of a church can change with the change of that position or program. If it doesn’t change, then you have churches like the former congregation at the Crystal Cathedral with all of one type of people. When it did finally change, the church went out of business.

Most churches try and follow a successful church, which isn’t always a bad idea (after all, they are successful). But doing that has left a lot of churches with broken down buses or puppets in the attic. The last couple of decades have left a lot churches pursuing the Saddleback or Willow Creek model. Now, I’m not trying to be critical of Rick Warren or Bill Hybels, these men have done an incredible job. However, our mandate comes from Scripture, not The Purpose Driven Church. Not only do we find our mandate there, but we find everything for establishing our purpose.

One more thing (not to rant), but not only is our mandate there, but we find that a local church body isn’t about programs or personalities (with the exception of the personality of Jesus). A local church is an organized group of believers. Read that again! They meet for corporate worship, gather in smaller groups to be discipled, serve the greater body with their gifts and take their message to the world. Simple. As a matter of fact, we find our purpose (as a body) is to ultimately do one thing: Image the glory of God. Let me ‘splain.

In Genesis 1, God created. And, it appears that he loved everything he created (And God saw that it was good (1.10). And everything he created, he created after it own kind. Every zebra was created each according to its kind (1.11; 21).  However, when God came to the time he was going to create man he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (1.26).”  (emphasis mine) But it only takes two chapters for Adam and Eve to mess things up. Basically, the chose a distorted image of what they thought they wanted.

In Genesis 3, the serpent told them, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” And, they fell for the lie.

The next time we see this purpose of imaging God is in the people of Israel. Matt Schmucker writes:  God, in his mercy, had a plan to both save and use a group of people for accomplishing his original purposes for creation—the display of his glory. In Exodus 4 he even calls this nation his “son”(vv. 22-23). Why a son? Because sons look like their dads. And they follow in their father’s footsteps. Sons image their fathers.

This really becomes apparent when God takes his children to Sinai. He gives them his precious ten commandments. Does this one sound familiar: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Ex 20.4).”  But they, too, didn’t listen. The exchanged the image of God for things made of gold (a golden calf).

Only when we see Christ come along do we see the perfect image of God. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1.3).  Paul writes in Colossians: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  And a little further down in that chapter he writes: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (1.15,19).  Now Jesus is our perfect example of imaging God. We’ve failed time and time again, but not Jesus. Hebrews reminds us that we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (4.15).

Now, enter the church. Listen to God’s plan: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8.29).  Did you catch that? We are to be conformed to the image of Christ. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor 3.18).  And again, Paul says: Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Col 3.9).

And that is the purpose that I see for the church: Imaging His Glory. Our ultimate purpose is imaging his character, his likeness, his image, his glory.

This bit of information might lead you to understand why we have set our purpose and process in place.

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