Three Momentous Moments
& Three Common Mistakes
Exodus is not just a book with stories for children, it continues the weighty foundational role and themes of Genesis. Does God keep His promises? How will He redeem His people? What kind of God is He? What is their relationship with Him? I suspect Exodus may well be under-preached in light of its significance. It is a book that is quoted and alluded to repeatedly in the rest of the Old Testament, and in the New Testament as well. Here are three momentous moments not to be passed over followed by three common mistakes:
1. Passover in chapter 12
Here is the moment that the Jewish people would look back on for centuries to come. With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, the LORD delivered His people from captivity in Egypt and launched them on their journey to home. The hardened heart of Pharoah was baked solid as God prepared to deliver His people, with the showdown between the LORD and the gods of Egypt being decisively won. And at the very heart of this key moment in human history? A perfect and innocent lamb slain to provide blood protection for the people who trusted God’s word. The LORD himself protecting them from the destroyer.
2. Sinai in chapters 19-20
Delivered safely into the wilderness the kingdom of priests arrived at the place where God would meet with them. It was an impressive encounter, perhaps too much for them to bear. The kingdom of priests seemed to shrink back in fear (as Moses tells us later on), and the first boundary markers of the Law were established for them, along with a simple earthen altar. If God had called His son out of Egypt, then the familial imagery seems to move to the marital at Sinai – covenant commitments both ways, but would both prove faithful?
3. Glory in chapters 32-34
The revelation of the Law given in Exodus and Leviticus has a progressive development, apparently instigated by failure on the part of the people. Despite chapter 24 and their fellowship with the LORD, they were unfaithful to Him in profoundly flagrant ways before the Golden Calf. God’s anger raged hot, for He is Jealous, but Moses interceded for His presence to go on with them. Amazingly, while on the mountain with the LORD Moses dared to ask to see His glory. How could he have confidence to make such a request? Earlier in the same chapter we are told of his regular face to face conversations with the LORD whose tent was pitched down near the people. But the LORD up on the mountain could not be seen. Yet Moses got that wonderful encounter with the trail of God’s glory. And what did God reveal? A stronger power than that image of power, the golden calf? Absolutely. He was given a divine glimpse of God’s goodness and covenant loyalty and mercy. Not a weak God, for He does deal with sin. A powerful God whose power of character overwhelms our conceptions of raw force.
So much to preach, and this post has only scratched at the surface!
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Now for the Mistakes
Genesis is such a critical book! I suspect it simply isn’t preached enough. The rest of the Bible is built on the foundation of Genesis, and so preaching it enough and preaching it well are very important.
Here are three mistakes to avoid, although many more could be added:
1. Atomistic Reading
This is where a text is snipped from the flow of the context and becomes a stand alone. Typically this leads to a Sunday School type of preaching that treats each narrative as complete in itself, and with its own “moral of the story.” Cain and Abel has to flow out of Genesis 3, and into the two genealogies of chapters 4 and 5. Abraham does not offer us a set of stand alone tales, but a sequence of growing faith, obedience and connection with God. Joseph’s brothers show consistency between snapshots, making them more than 11 faceless foils in the story of Joseph. Be careful to study and preach each unit in context.
2. Moralistic Reading.
This is where a text is snipped from the artery of life that is God’s involvement in specific history, turning the text into a tale with a moral, a lesson for the day, a suggestion on how we can live better. So we should try to avoid infidelity like Joseph did, or not give away our wives like Abraham/Isaac did, or not get caught up in tempting conversations like Eve did. But actually the goal is not our independent successful functioning: that was what the serpent was pushing for. The goal is surely more God-centred than that. Eve didn’t trust God’s Word and God’s character, but God himself works the resolution to the sin problem and invites us to trust Him and His Word. Abraham was on a journey of faith as we are. Joseph lived as if God were with him, even though he had very little indication that he was!
3. Impositional Reading.
This is where a text is seen, but not heard. It is where a text acts as a trigger to recall sermons heard and points previously stated. The preacher reads the text and looks for a sermon, instead of studying the text and looking for God. Impositional reading will always lead to superficial preaching. Probe, question, examine, query, ponder, mine, and wrestle with the text. Do that with God in conversation and see if the preaching of Genesis suddenly becomes a spring of living water instead of stale old picture book fables.
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program. Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum. He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor. For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]