December 12 I Sunday
“The LORD said to [Abraham], ‘Know for certain that… your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and ill-treated there. But I will punish the nation…afterwards they will come out with great possessions.” —Genesis 15:13-14
The book of Genesis records Abraham’s life and how God called him to let go of all he knew and be set apart. God would raise him and his descendants after him to be a new type of tribe—one that would bless the nations around it. When we read the book of Exodus, we see God’s fulfillment of His promises to Abraham. The Israelites were enslaved and oppressed in Egypt, but God came to set them free, just as He said in Genesis 15.
The Israelites were brought out of Egypt and led into the wilderness. At Mount Sinai, God told Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Make them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (Exodus 19:10-11). God gave strict orders not to allow any animal or person to approach or even touch the mountain. On the third day, God descended on the mountain; there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. After, God declared, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). In the Hebrew, He was saying, “All that I am, I will be to you. I am the One who delivered you. I am the One who brought you out.”
Then, God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. When the people heard the trumpet and saw the thunder and lightning and the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They told Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not let God speak to us or we will die.” Moses told them, “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” (Exodus 20:19-20). In other words, what God was doing was actually for their protection, to instill in them a healthy reverence for who He is and to keep them from sin.
After God finished speaking, He did something remarkable by inviting some of them up the mountain so that they could share a meal together. Exodus 24:9-11 says, “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel…they saw God, and they ate and drank.” From the onset, God established the importance of table fellowship with His people. He sets the stage for a covenant relationship that is to take place over a shared meal, because life happens at the table.
Prayer: Sovereign God, thank You establishing the importance of table fellowship. Open my eyes to see whom I can invite and share a meal with this Christmas season.