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lightening storm February 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Exodus 19, 20

The Fear of God

What do these things have in common: being buried in a snowstorm, barely escaping injury from a fallen tree branch struck by lightning, a near fatal traffic accident, or a serious medical diagnosis? They are fearful tests. We wonder if this will be the time we meet our maker. The test certainly gets our attention and may cause us to live more soberly and righteously. This was what it was like when the Israelites met God at Mt. Sinai in the Sinai desert.

Their meeting with God was preceded by a promise from God. The Great I AM, the ever-present, Almighty God, their deliverer from slavery, their protector and provider said,

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites. (Exodus 19:5-6, NIV)

This was a conditional covenant (promise). If the people fully obeyed God and all his directives, they would be his treasured possession over any nation of the entire earth.

Although most of us are not Jewish, true believers in Jesus Christ today have a similar promise from God, only our promise is unconditional. This covenant was established by God and purchased through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1Peter 2:9-10, NIV)

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:11-13, NIV).

The Israelites agreed to obey the covenant. Afterwards, they prepared themselves to meet with God. The Israelites were to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual relations for three days. The washing of clothes did not bring about any righteousness but was probably symbolic and was done out of respect for their holy and righteous God. Abstaining from sexual relations for three days was probably done so that they might dedicate themselves fully to God.

How is it that we prepare ourselves before God? The Apostle Paul provides us the answer in 1Corinthians 6:11b “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” (NIV). By accepting Christ’s blood sacrifice for our sins we are washed and made clean. After we are Christians we still need daily cleansing. The Apostle John states in 1John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin,”(NIV).

On the day of meeting, God revealed himself to the people with thunder, lightening, a loud trumpet sound, a mountain of smoke, and a strong powerful voice. He displayed himself in this way so that they might fear the LORD and keep from sinning (Exodus 20:20). And fear him they did:

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die,” (Exodus 20:18-19, NIV)

Sometimes it takes natural disasters or other calamities to turn us to the LORD. Often it is only then that we are ready to listen. When he had their attention, God proclaimed ten commandments the Israelites were to obey. (Exodus 20:3-17). The first half were commands they were to keep out of respect for God, and the last half were commands they were to keep out of respect for their fellow man (more…). Are you ready to listen to God? First come to God in faith to receive peace, forgiveness and spiritual life (more...)Then read his Word, the Bible, to find out what behavior pleases him or does not please him. Do not waste your life in self-indulgence, waiting for the next disaster. Live your life in awesome respect for the Lord, and then you will be prepared to meet God.

Lessons to live by:

  • Fearful, life-threatening tests get our attention and often cause us to live more soberly and righteously.
  • The old covenant between God and Israel was conditional. The new covenant between God and man, through Jesus, is unconditional and eternal. Praise God!
  • We prepare ourselves to meet with God by having our sins washed by the blood of Jesus Christ and living a holy life out of respect for our LORD (more...). This is living in the fear of the Lord. Read our Bible studies daily to find out what pleases him and obey it.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Exodus 20:20 “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’” (NIV)

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