By Published On: February 22nd, 2023Categories: Leader Blog, Meditation for Preparation0 Comments

Photo by Sam 🐷 on Unsplash

Read:  Exodus 19:1-20:2; 20:18-21

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of a 40-day season of repentance, renewal, and preparation we call “Lent.”  During Lent we seek to deepen our understanding of our union with Christ by meditating and pondering His humility, suffering, and death.  It is a season where the magnifying glass enlarges the depths of our depravity and the completeness of God’s love.  Just as Advent finds its climax at Christmas, the season of Lent will find its climax on Holy week when we will celebrate Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Over the next six weeks, we’ll be studying together the 10 commandments and how they reveal God’s holiness, goodness, and power.  In doing so, they also expose our extreme lack of those same qualities.  With every thunderous law given to Moses on that mountain, the weight of our condemnation grows.  God was not giving Israel these commands so they could prove their righteousness.  He was giving these commands to expose their unrighteousness.  Romans 3:20 tells us, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

So how do you feel when God makes you aware of your sin?  Guilty?  Depressed?  Fearful?  That appears to be how Israel felt.  Exodus 20:18 says that the people of Israel were “afraid,” so much so that they were afraid to even hear God’s voice.  But Moses says something extremely important in response to their fear.  He says, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin.”

There is a difference between being “afraid of God” and having a “fear of the Lord.”  Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil…”  This means that you despise and detest the things that God hates and the things that He declares are evil.  The commandments that God gave Moses are not declarations of limitations God wanted to put on His people; they are a list of distinctions between what is good and what is evil.  They are instructors to us, teaching us what God loves and what He hates.  This is not to make us “afraid” of Him.  What is good to God is good for you.  A healthy fear of the Lord means to love what is good for you and to hate what is bad for you, and the only way for you to know those things is by God’s kind revelation.

As you prepare for worship this Sunday and you enter the story, experiencing the thunder and smoke and awe of God’s presence with Israel, remember that it is because of God’s kindness that He gives us the law and commandments.  His aim is not that you are afraid of Him, but that you grow in hatred for what He hates and love for what He loves.  Do not despise the guilt and condemnation that the commandments bring.  Our inner longing for justice and righteousness wants evil to be punished and right to prevail.  Instead, allow that guilt and condemnation to feel its relief in the grace that is offered to you in Christ.  There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: He sent His own Son.

This is how the magnifying glass is supposed to work.  You can’t magnify your complete depravity of our sin without also magnifying the completeness of God’s love that has paid for it.  Hallelujah!