Richard Baxter once said, “I preached as never sure to preach again and as a dying man to dying men.”1 In continuation of the series on preaching, I believe it’s essential to examine the centrality of God’s Word in the life of the Israel.
First, we will look at fact that God is a speaking God who continues to speak through His Word. We will then look to other texts in this series from Psalm 19, Psalm 119, Nehemiah 8 and more. The point is clear – Preaching Still Matters!
The Speaking God and His Word
that Speaks – Exodus 19-20
From the very beginning, God has demonstrated Himself as the speaking God. He spoke in creation (Gen 1). All throughout the first chapter of divine Scripture, the phrase, “And God said,” is repeated. This same God spoke to Moses in the burning bush (Exod 3). In Exodus 3:4, the Word of God reveals that “God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” All through the history of Israel, God spoke through prophets as He prepared the way for the coming of Jesus – the prophet greater than Moses.
Albert Mohler writes, “The Bible bears witness to itself as the written Word of God, a claim that springs from the fact that God has spoken. In the Old Testament alone, the phrases ‘the Lord said,’ ‘the Lord spoke,’ and ‘the word of the Lord came’ appear at least 3,808 times.”2 The fact that God has spoken in creation and in divine ways to men such as Moses is easily verified through the many biblical and extra-biblical historical writings. However, God’s communication to humanity is not a thing of the past. In fact, He continues to speak through His Word. Mohler goes on to write, “This confession brings the preacher face-to-face with the Scripture as divine revelation, for the authority of Scripture is none other than the authority of God Himself. As the Reformation formula testifies, ‘where Scripture speaks, God speaks.’”3
In Exodus 19-20, God provided Moses with specific instructions regarding the event surrounding the giving of the Ten Commandments upon Mount Sinai. The people did as God directed them, and then Moses went up to the top of the mountain where God gave the tablets of stone to him with the recorded Law of God. Although the Law of God had been in effect from the beginning of creation, which is evident in the moral law that was in effect in the Garden of Eden, God wrote down the Law for the people at Sinai as a testimony of His truth and His character. The people of Israel centered their lives upon the Word of God. They received it from Moses, they broke it in rebellion, they were held accountable to it by Moses and the prophets who would appear in later days. God’s Word was to be seen as definite, immutable, and authoritative. This is why God wrote it in stone. When Moses came down the mountain, he returned to the people with God’s Word – not Moses’ word. God presented the people with the Word, and the people said, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do’” (Exod 24:3). The Ten Commandments, God’s Word to the people, were intended to govern the lives of God’s people.
Philip Ryken writes, “God did not give Israel the Ten Commandments until chapter 20. Chapters 1-19 come first, and they tell the story of salvation by grace – God fulfilling his covenant promise by brining Israel out of Egypt. Then comes chapter 20, in which God gives his people a law by which to live.”4 The people of Israel never matured to a point where the Ten Commandments were too old fashioned to govern their lives. No matter what geographic location they found themselves in or what modern advancements they enjoyed, from the days of the Tabernacle to the Temple – Israel was always bound to the law of God. The prophets, beginning with Moses, preached it to the people and that ultimately led to the day when the prophet greater than Moses preached the law of Christ – the fulfillment of God’s law. God spoke in His creative acts. God spoke through tablets of stone to Israel. He spoke through the prophets to the people of Israel. He spoke through Christ as the “Word who became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). God continues to speak through His Word today. Just as Israel centered their lives upon the Word of God – we must do so in our present day through faithful preaching and teaching of Scripture.
It should be noted that in Exodus 24:1-3, Moses came and reported to the people all that God had instructed. Moses apparently took seriously the idea of rightly handling the Word of God in his special day and circumstance. Moses didn’t come down and give an overview. Moses didn’t come and tell stories about the flashing of lightening and the rolling of thunder. Moses came and reported to the people all of God’s Word. The task of Moses is the task of the New Testament preacher today – our job has not changed.
For the glory of God alone!
Pastor Josh Buice
Quoted by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preachers and Preaching, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), 86.
R. Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008), 41.
Philip Ryken, Exodus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 597.