The Knowledge of the Holy

September 11, 2022 ()

Bible Text: Exodus 3:1-22 |


The Knowledge of the Holy | Exodus 3
Brian Hedges | September 11, 2022

Let me invite you to turn in Scripture this morning to the book of Exodus, Exodus 3. It’s the second book in the Bible. We’re going to be in Exodus 3, and if you’re following along in one of the Bibles in the chairs in front of you it’s page 46.

While you’re turning there, let me tell you about a man from the 17th century named Blaise Pascal. He was a Frenchman and an intellectual, a mathematician. He was a brilliant man, something of a philosopher as well. He was brilliant as a child, a child prodigy who was learning, on his own, Euclidean geometry by the time he was 12 years old. His father actually didn’t want to teach him math; he wanted him to focus on languages. But Pascal was just figuring it out on his own, and he was a brilliant kid.

He eventually became a mathematician and was also the inventor of the very first calculator, the first calculating machine. But he was also a Christian. He was Roman Catholic, and he had an awakening in his early years based on some of the teachings of St. Augustine. He aligned himself with the Jansonist movement of that time.

Something remarkable happened to him on Monday, November 23, 1654, at 10:30 p.m. that night, for two hours. No one knew about this until nine years after he died, but he had an experience with God, and he kind of wrote out a stream-of-consciousness journal type of entry, but he didn’t show it to anyone. He actually sewed it into the coat that he wore, and someone discovered that nine years after he had died. His biographer calls it Pascal’s “night of fire,” calls it “a searing conversion experience.” It was really something like a second conversion experience for him. I’m just going to read a portion of it to you. He said,

"Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob; not of philosophers and scholars. Certainty; certainty. Heartfelt joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ, God of Jesus Christ; my God and your God. Thy God shall be my God; the world forgotten, and everything except God. He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels. Greatness of the human soul. O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee. Joy. Joy. Joy. Tears of joy."

It’s a remarkable testimony of a man who encountered the true and the living God in the quietness of solitude, all on his own, to be shared with no one during his own lifetime, but it has come down to us through the centuries. Pascal’s biographer, Marvin O’Connell, calls this “a testament to the experience of divine power that had overwhelmed him and completely altered the direction of his life.” It was a turning point for Pascal; it was, as O’Connell says, “the memorial of which Pascal carried concealed on his person till the day he died, the memorial of the pact between him and God.”

I wonder if you have ever had an experience something like that. Maybe you wouldn’t use the same words, maybe it wasn’t quite as intense, but you had some kind of a personal encounter with God, where you knew that your life was changed as a result—your own searing conversion, your night of fire.

That’s possible for you. That’s possible for every one of us, and in fact it’s what we are made for. We are made to know God, and often we go much of our lives with very little thought of him, until that moment when maybe we’re not even seeking after him and he comes for us, and there’s an opportunity. There’s this moment where our lives can completely change. That happened for Pascal, and it happened for another man whose story we’re going to look at together this morning.

That man was Moses. He had his own night of fire in an experience that we know as the burning bush, in Exodus 3.

We’re actually studying together the book of Exodus. We started about two weeks ago. This book, though not often looked at outside of Sunday school, this is a book that is perhaps the most dramatic, action-packed book in the Old Testament. It is a remarkable narrative of God’s grace and redemptive power for his people, the children of Israel. It’s a book that, as we’ve already seen, gives us the stories, the images, the vocabulary, the language of salvation. It gives us the images we need for understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ. So we are studying through it a chapter a time together.

Today we’re in Exodus 3. By the end of the message I want us to try to see everything in Exodus 3, but I’m going to begin by just reading the first 14 verses. You can follow along in your Bible or on the screen. Hear God’s word.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

This is God’s holy word.

I want you to see three things this morning as we look at this searing conversion experience in the life of Moses, his own night of fire. I want you to see: 1. The Fire of God’s Holiness (vv. 1-6), 2. The Nature of God’s Saving Plan (vv. 7-12), and 3. The Revelation of God’s Name and Character (vv. 13-22).

1. The Fire of God’s Holiness

In these first six verses, let’s just try to get a sense of the setting, the time, the place. Here is Moses. We know from other parts of Scripture that he is 80 years old. Forty years have gone by since Moses left Egypt on the run in Exodus 2. If you know the story or if you were here last week you know that Moses was raised in the courts of Egypt. He was schooled in all the wisdom of Egypt. He was a prince of Egypt. There came a moment when he saw the suffering, the oppression of his people and he sought to deliver one particular man, and he killed an Egyptian in the process. Moses the prince of Egypt became Moses the vigilante. When that was discovered, he fled for his life and became Moses the fugitive. Then he went to this land of Midian, where he is Moses the exiles, the sojourner. He says, “I have become a stranger in a strange land.”

Now it’s 40 years later, he’s 80 years old, and what do we find Moses doing in verse 1? Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness. He’s a shepherd. Moses has become a shepherd.

Whatever dreams Moses had initially had of delivering his people were long gone. For 40 years now he’s been a shepherd, and this would have been a humiliating, humbling thing for anyone raised in Egypt, because the Egyptians despised shepherds. We know that from Genesis 46:34. But this was God’s school. This was God’s preparation. Moses is in the wilderness being trained to be the shepherd for the people of God.

One day Moses, as far as we know not looking for God at all, is out leading the flock, and he comes to this place, Horeb, the mountain of God. It’s called the mountain of God because this is where God will reveal himself, first to Moses and later, as we know from verse 12, to the whole people of Israel. Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. So this becomes a place of vision for Moses.

In verse 2 we read that “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” The angel of the Lord is kind of an enigmatic, mysterious figure in the Old Testament, mentioned some 56 times. This is a messenger from God who, on one hand, seems to be distinct from Yahweh, distinct from God, and yet in some ways identified with God. Even in this passage we see that the angel of the Lord is the one who appears to Moses, but when the voice begins speaking it is the voice of God himself. The best that we can ascertain, this angel of the Lord is a theophany, an appearance of God in the Old Testament, or maybe what we would even call a Christophany, an appearance of the preincarnate word, the eternal second person of the Trinity, who reveals himself to Moses.

He does it through a sign, a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Moses looked, “and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” This was a phenomenon. This was something strange, unusual, unexpected. Here is this fire that seems to be self-sustaining, not consuming the bush but burning nevertheless. Moses, mystified by this, in verse 3 says, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

Don’t miss that. This is so important. Moses saw something, he felt something, he knew that there was something unusual about this, and he stopped and he looked. He turned aside to see.

The next verse, verse 4, says, “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’” I emphasize that because so often in life there are times when there are opportunities to meet God, where the Holy Spirit is tugging on our hearts, where God is speaking, where there is this inner restlessness, there is a sense that God wants something from me. There is an encounter at that moment with the transcendent, the mysterious, the divine; but sometimes we are so busy that we don’t stop and we don’t turn aside to see. We can miss those opportunities.

The great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in a book written for preachers, gave wonderful advice. He gave this for preachers and pastors, but I think it’s good for anyone. He said, “Always respond to every impulse to pray.” Make it an absolute rule: every time you feel an impulse to pray, respond. Stop what you’re doing and pray and seek the Lord, because the Holy Spirit is calling.

There are some of you this morning that it may be that God has his finger on you right now, he has his eye on you. He’s been tugging, he’s been pulling, he’s been making you restless, he’s convicted you of some sin or he’s shown you some need, and you know that you need something more than you have right now. You may be a Christian and what you need is something like a second conversion experience, or you may not be a Christian but you’re seeking, and you don’t know if there’s a God, but you know that you want something more. If that’s you this morning, turn aside and see. Stop. Listen. Pray. Seek the Lord. Investigate and see what God does.

Moses does that, and a voice calls out to him, saying, “Moses! Moses!” As soon as Moses comes face to face with God, something happens. God requires something of Moses. “Take the sandals from off your feet, Moses, for the ground on which you are standing is holy ground.” The reason it’s holy ground is because God himself, the holy one, is there. What Moses has in this moment is an encounter with spiritual reality, a divine encounter with God himself, where he comes into the presence of the holiness of God.

Holiness is a word we don’t use all the time. What do we mean by the holiness of God? The best I can describe it is this: the holiness of God is his utter transcendent otherness. It’s God’s uniqueness; it’s the fact that he’s different than we are. It is his stunning splendor, his radiant beauty, and his moral purity and perfection.

What Moses experienced here was something that would have been absolutely stunning to him, and you and I when we come into the presence of the supernatural also feel this.

There’s actually a story from the life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, this preacher I mentioned a few minutes ago. He was a minister in Wales in the 1920s and ’30s. He saw many miraculous conversions, people who were brought to Christ. One time there was a woman in the town who was a witch, and she came to his church out of curiosity, and she was converted, she was saved. She went out of witchcraft and sorcery and became a Christian. She said that this was what arrested her. She said, “When I came into your church, I recognized the presence of power, and it was similar to the power I was used to dealing with, except this was clean power.” She had an encounter with the holiness of God.

This is what every one of us needs. We need to come into contact with the true and the living God. When this happens, it will upset us, it will disturb us, it will change us, it will force us onto a new path. We may initially feel dread, but that dread then gives way to awe and wonder and love and praise and, like Pascal, we say, “Joy.”

C.S. Lewis described this in his book Miracles. He said,

"It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. “Look out!” we cry. “It’s alive!” Therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back - I would have done so myself if I could—and proceed no further with Christianity. [Listen to this.] An impersonal God—well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth, and goodness inside our own heads—better still. A formless life force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap—best of all. But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed; the hunter, king, husband? That is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly. Was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ('man’s search for God') suddenly draw back. 'Supposing we really found him? We never meant it to come to that. Worse still, supposing he found us?'"

Has that happened to you this morning? Not a theophany in the sense of seeing a burning bush, but an encounter with the real presence of God through his word, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through the mysterious presence of the Holy Spirit? Moses experienced that, and it changed his life. If you experience it, it will change your life as well.

2. The Nature of God's Saving Plan

But it not only changed Moses’ life, it changed the whole course of history for the people of God, because in many ways this is the turning point in the book of Exodus, even though we’re only at chapter 3. So far in chapters 1 and 2 we’ve surveyed something like 400 years—400 years where the people of Israel have been oppressed, where they’ve been enslaved, where they’ve not been free. Moses is now 80 years old. But something happens here that shifts the direction of this narrative.

You can see it if you look at the literary structure of the first section of Exodus, Exodus 1-6.

a oppression by Pharaoh (1:1-22)

b Moses comes to Pharaoh’s house as a baby (2:1-10)

c Moses departs from Egypt (2:11-25)

d TURNING POINT: God speaks (3:1-4:17)

c’ Moses returns to Egypt (4:18-31)

b’ Moses comes to Pharaoh’s house as an adult (5:1-4)

a’ worse oppression by Pharaoh (5:5-6:13)

(Adapted from David Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament)

There’s kind of a chiasm there, where you have oppression by Pharaoh in chapter 1, then even more intense oppression from Pharaoh in chapters 5-6. In chapter 2, as we saw last week, Moses comes to Pharaoh’s house as a baby in this little ark in the Nile River. He comes back to Pharaoh’s house as an adult early in chapter 5. At the end of chapter 2, as we saw last week, Moses departed from Egypt. He will return to Egypt in chapter 4. But right there in the middle, the turning point right at the middle of this literary unit in the book of Exodus is this divine encounter, where God speaks to Moses.

Did you know this it the first time that God speaks in the book of Exodus? We’ve seen him working behind the scenes, faithfully, in his providence, keeping his promises, but it’s only here that God reveals himself. It’s only here that God speaks to Moses, and what he says is not just life-changing for Moses. What he says encapsulates the whole plan of redemption and deliverance and salvation for the people of God. In fact, I think we can just say that in these verses, verses 7-12, you have the doctrine of salvation in a nutshell.

In some ways this could be an entire sermon, and I’m not going to give you an entire sermon. I’m going to give you a compressed sermon in a few minutes, but I want you to see how the whole doctrine of salvation is right here. I want you to see this because I want you to read your Bibles and read your New Testament with eyes peeled for this. Here would be an assignment for you: go home and read Ephesians 1. Go home and read Colossians 1. Look for the language that’s used there that echoes the language that you have here in Exodus 3.

You see several things here about salvation.

(1) You see the need for salvation, as God when he speaks to Moses says, “I have seen the affliction of my people. I know their oppression. I know their sufferings.” He sees the condition they’re in, and that’s why they need to be delivered.

As we’ve seen so far in this series, this oppression of the children of Israel, their slavery in Egypt, it is a picture of the spiritual slavery that is characteristic of all of our lives outside of Christ, where we serve hard taskmasters. We need to be delivered.

(2) The motive for salvation, God’s motive, is both his compassion and his covenant. His compassion in that he sees them, he hears them, he knows them. It’s an echo of the language in chapter 2:24-25. God heard their groaning; he remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God saw the people of Israel; and God knew. Well, here is God’s compassion again, and it’s bringing God right into the picture, bringing him into action.

And God’s covenant, because he reveals himself again and again in Exodus as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why? Because he made promises to them. This is the family he had chosen, and he had promised them that he would give them blessing, that he would bring them into this promised land. Here God is, keeping his promises.

(3) We see the recipients of salvation. They are described as “my people” in verse 7 and in verse 9. Just note that they are God’s people before he redeems them. Here are the roots of Paul’s doctrine of election, all the way back in the Old Testament.

(4) We see the meaning of salvation, which is both deliverance and inheritance. “I have come down to deliver them,” he says in verse 8, “and to bring them up to a land flowing with milk and honey, this good, broad land.” It shows us that salvation is both deliverance from sin, it’s deliverance from the negative things in our lives, but it’s also bringing us into a new kingdom, a new family, a new kind of life. He gives us not just forgiveness and pardon, but he also transforms us and he brings us into the family of God, and he gives us an inheritance. He makes us heirs of Christ, right? Heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, as Romans 8 says.

(5) Then, get this: the purpose of salvation is worship. You see it in verse 12, where God says that he’s doing this so that “they will come and serve me on this mountain.” That’s really important, because that word “serve” is a word used many times in Exodus. It certainly carries connotations of worship. But get this: it’s also the word that’s used in Exodus 1:13 to describe the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. “So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves.” It’s the same word.

I’m kind of drawing this from Tim Keller, a contemporary preacher who’s been very helpful for many of us. Tim Keller makes an observation that every time in Exodus when Moses comes to Pharaoh and says, “Let my people go,” it doesn’t stop there. It always stops there in the movies, right? You’ve seen the old Ten Commandments movie with Charlton Heston—it’s just, “Let my people go!” But it doesn’t stop there in Exodus. Moses says, “Let my people go that they might serve me,” or, “that they might worship me.”

Actually, the book of Exodus has two halves. The first half, chapters 1-18, is all about the deliverance of the people of God from Israel. The second half, chapters 19-40, are all about God’s self-revelation to his people as he makes a covenant with them, as he gives them his law, as he gives them the instructions for the tabernacle. That tabernacle is built, and then God comes and dwells with his people. The book ends with the glory of God filling the tabernacle. They don’t ever put that in the movies. Nobody wants to see a movie about a tabernacle being built, right? But that’s half the story, and it’s important, because it shows us that the purpose for redemption is not just to get us out of the sin problem, it is to bring us to God, it is to bring us into fellowship with God, union with Christ. It is to restore the relationship so that God will be glorified through our worship or through our service.

Again, I owe this to Tim Keller. I think this is such an important insight. The freedom of salvation is freedom that we only discover when we are serving the true and living God as our master. Here’s how Keller puts it. He says,

"The first principle of the whole book of Exodus is your journey of liberation, your exodus out of slavery, isn’t done until it finds its destination in absolute and utter worship and service to God and God alone. You’re only free if God is your master. If God is not your master, the ultimate center of your life, you are enslaved to something else, something that’s not the real God, something that’s not worthy of you putting the highest allegiance of your soul into it."

What do you worship? We all worship something. All of us at times worship false gods, false gods that disappoint, false gods that break our hearts, false gods that do not satisfy. We have before us the fountain of living waters with the invitation to come and drink, and what do we do? We dig broken cisterns that can hold no water. That may be drugs, it may be money, it may be approval, it may be your work. It could even be something innocent like your family. It could be anything that you’re living for that you place greater priority on that than you do on God. If you do that, it’ll eventually destroy you. You serve any other master, you’ll be a slave; but if you serve the true and living God, the God you were made for, you will be free.

There’s an old English poet—some of you will recognize this—John Donne, who wrote one of the most famous poems in the English language, called “Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God.” I won’t read it all, but it’s essentially a description of the bondage and slavery that he felt and his need for God to liberate him. The last three lines go like this (it’s a prayer). He says,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

If that’s a little too high-brow for you, here are words from another great poet, Bob Dylan, who said,

You’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it may be the devil
Or it may be the Lord,
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

God’s plan of salvation is that we will serve him, that we will know him, and that in serving him we will find true freedom. That’s the plan of salvation, the nature of salvation: God glorified by liberating us, by bringing us into his glad service.

3. The Revelation of God’s Name and Character

The foundation of all this—the foundation of our hope and our confidence—is the revelation of God’s sacred name and character in verses 13-22. Moses makes this daring request in verse 13.

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

The reason Moses asks is because in the ancient world someone’s name represented not just their identity, but it explained their character. The names of God in Scripture explain who God is; they explain the character of God. We have many different names of God, don’t we? El Shaddai, God All-Sufficient, and many others as well. But here God reveals his name, and in this self-revelation of God from verses 14-22 we learn several things about God. Again, it’s worth an entire message, but I’m just going to give you the headings with brief commentary. Let this sink in, who God is and how this revelation of who God is is the foundation of our hope.

(1) In verse 14, “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’” It is an expression that the scholars tell us suggests God’s self-existence. He is who he is. He will be who he will be. He simply is the God who is, we might say. It suggests his self-existence, his eternity, his complete independence, his utter sovereignty, his complete steadfastness and changelessness. This is the self-existent, eternal, immutable God of the Bible.

If you want more on that, you could look up a sermon from October 2020 that’s simply called “The God Who Is.” We spent an entire message just looking at that. He is the God who is.

(2) He is, secondly, the God of the covenant. You see it in verses 15-17. I won’t read it all, but look at verse 15. “God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.”’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”

Why does God reveal himself this way? Again, it’s because of the promises. One of those promises, made to Abraham in Genesis 15, is that after 400 years of oppression and affliction in Egypt, “I’m going to deliver you and I’m going to take you to this promised land.” Verses 16-17 recount that promise. It just shows us once again that God is the God who keeps his promises. He is the God of the covenant.

(3) He’s also the God who reigns in power and might. Look at verse 18. God is speaking; he says, “And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.”

You see, God doesn’t hide from Moses the difficulty that’s going to come. He says, “I know Pharaoh’s going to refuse. You go to him, and you say, ‘Let my people go, that they may sacrifice to me.’ Pharaoh’s going to say no. But Moses, I’m a God who reigns. I have power, and I’m going to work, and I will compel him to let you go.”

It shows us a God of mighty power, the sovereign God who reigns and rules in wonder and in might.

(4) Finally, number four, we see that he is the God who triumphs over our enemies and turns all things for our good. Four hundred years of affliction and oppression that they had experienced, and now God’s going to deliver them, but when he delivers them he’s not going to send them away empty-handed. Look at verses 21-22.

“And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

That gets fulfilled in chapters 11-12. What is this? Why does God do this? I think it is an act of justice, as the children of Israel receive reparations for 400 years of slavery, forced labor. It is a reversal. One of the great ironies of the gospel—we looked at some of those last week, and here’s an irony again, as there’s a reversal, as the rich Egyptians who have tormented cruelly the children of Israel are now brought low and as the lowly children of Israel are made rich and sent away full. The victims here become the victors, as they carry off the plunder, the spoils of war. They do it without a raising a hand.

Most importantly, this was a provision; provision for Israel, for their lives, to sustain them, and a provision for their worship. They are sent away not just with food and clothing, they are sent away with silver and gold. What is that silver and gold to be used for? The constructing of the tabernacle. It is to be consecrated to the worship of God. God here is giving them everything they need in order to serve and worship him.

It shows us that God is the God who triumphs over evil, who plunders the enemy, and who takes even our afflictions, even our suffering, and he uses it for our good.

Brothers and sisters, the greatest example of this in the history of the world is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. There’s never been an event in the history of the world that was worse than that. Here is the holy, harmless Son of God, separated from sinners, completely righteous, deserving of our worship, deserving of people falling down at his feet; and he’s crucified like a criminal.

The rulers of the world didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t know they were crucifying the Lord of glory. If they’d known, they wouldn’t have done it. But they do it; they raise up their hands against the Son of God. It is a great evil. But in doing it, the apostles tell us they are doing what God predetermined and foreknew would take place, and through that very event God will redeem the world.

Have you encountered the fire of God’s transcendent holiness? Have you been liberated by that encounter, set free from slavery to idols and false gods, whatever they are? Have you discovered the freedom of worshipping the true and living God? Have you come to know his name, this God who has revealed himself in his word and through Jesus Christ?

There was another time when someone revealed himself as the “I Am.” Do you remember this? In John 8, when Jesus is speaking with a number of people, he tells them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

They are mystified by this. They say, “You’re not yet 50 years old; how can you say that you have seen Abraham?”

Jesus responds, “Truly, truly, I say to you; before Abraham was, I am.”

Jesus is this God, revealed to us in human flesh. Do you know him? Do you trust him? He can set you free. Look to him this morning. Let’s pray together.

Gracious God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God of Moses, God of the burning bush, God of Jesus Christ; we thank you that you have revealed yourself in history, that you have revealed yourself in the word, and that you have revealed yourself in your Son, the Lord Jesus, the word made flesh.

We pray this morning that you would help each one of us to respond to your self-revelation in Jesus, to respond in humble repentance and faith. Like Moses, may we in a sense take the shoes from off our feet, realizing we’re on holy ground. May we perceive the changes you desire in our lives and require of us, and may we see the provision that you have made for our complete redemption, deliverance from sin, and then being brought into a new family, a new kingdom, given an inheritance. God, for those of us who have restless hearts this morning, may our hearts find their rest in you. For those who are wrestling with addiction, may today be a day of newly discovered freedom. For those who are weary and heavy laden under the burden of sin, may today be the day where they find rest and peace for their conscience in the gospel.

We ask you to draw near to us, Lord, as we worship and as we come to the Lord’s table. May we come with faith, trusting in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us, and trusting in him alone. May you be present through your Spirit, and may you be glorified. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.