Bible Study — Exodus 20:18ff.


18 And all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, “Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

1. What did the people do when they saw the thunderings and lightnings, heard the voice of the LORD, and saw the mountain smoking? What did they say to Moses? Why?

2. What is the significance of this passage? Cf. Deuteronomy 5:22ff.; 18:15ff.; John 1:15ff.; Hebrews 12:18ff. How was Jesus like Moses? How is Jesus our Mediator and Advocate? Cf. 1 John 2:1-2; John 14:6.

3. Can we stand in the presence of the LORD God in our own righteousness? What does God’s holiness demand? Cf. Exodus 33:17ff.; 34:6ff.; Isaiah 6:1ff.; Psalm 130:3-4; Romans 3:9ff.; Galatians 3:10ff.

20 And Moses said unto the people, “Fear not; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. 22 And the Lord said unto Moses, “Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel: ‘Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 Ye shall not make with Me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings and thy peace offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen. In all places where I record My name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25 And if thou wilt make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered thereon.’”

4. What did Moses tell the people? Why, according to Moses, did God speak His commandments to the people in this way?

5. How is the word “fear” used in verse 20? How should we fear the LORD God? Why does Dr. Martin Luther begin his explanations of the commandments with the words “We should fear and love God that …”? Is there a difference between a godly fear and the fear of the world?

6. How does this relate to the three uses of God’s law (a curb, a mirror, a guide or rule)?

7. What did God command Moses to say to the people? How was God’s appearance on Mt. Sinai and His voice giving the 10 Commandments to keep the people from making other gods of silver or gold? How does this apply to us today? Cf. Psalm 115.

8. What instructions did God give regarding the worship and sacrifices of the children of Israel? What kind of altars were the people to make? Why? What is the significance of this?

9. What kind of sacrifices were the children of Israel to offer? What are these sacrifices? Cf. Leviticus 1-9.

10. What does God promise in verse 24? How does this relate to Numbers 6:22ff.? How does this relate to our worship today?

11. Why were the people not to go up on steps to the altar for sacrifice? Think of the pagan altars, often built on high places, towers or ziggurats. Does ascending steps to offer sacrifices, or building ornate altars indicate that man is cooperating with God and doing his part in appeasing God?

12. Based on these verses, what applications can we make in regard to our worship?

A. Are we worthy to come into God’s presence?

B. How only can we come into God’s presence? Cf. John 14:6.

C. Can we add anything to the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus for the sins of the world?

D. Who blesses who in worship? Do we bless God? Does God bless us?

E. What kind of fear should we have toward God?

Other questions or comments?

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