Lesson 6: October 8, 2017
God’s Covenant with Israel: Exodus 19:16-25
Teaching Strategy: Discuss the questions “How does God ‘meet’ with God’s people today?” and “What do we need to do to prepare ourselves?”
Today’s lesson begins with the Israelites’ arrival at Mount Sinai. God told Moses what to say to the people, including the renewed promise of God’s covenant: “Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6 but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation (vs. 5-6a).” God then directed Moses to tell the people how to consecrate themselves in preparation for meeting God at the foot of the mountain in a great cloud of smoke. Within these directions were strict limits: “Moses said to the Lord, ‘The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, “Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy”’” (v. 23).
Reflecting upon biblical stories of people’s encounters with God raises many timely questions. How does God “meet” with God’s people today? Where are the holy places of our time – space(s) in our churches but also outside them – where we are invited to encounter the divine? What are the spiritual practices, including prayer, meditation, and more, through which we may experience the presence of the holy?
In keeping with Exodus 19, what must we do to prepare ourselves? How do God’s people consecrate themselves in order to meet their God?
Finally, how do such encounters make it possible for us to obey God’s voice? How does the experience of God’s presence empower us to live as faithful followers in a broken world?
Resources to explore:
- Ancient & New: Presbyterians and Spiritual Practices
- A Ministry Set Among the Parks Provides a Spiritual Awakening for Some Christians
- The Fight for Social Justice Starts Within: Only a Vibrant Inner Life Can Sustain the Activist’s Soul
- Consider subscribing to receive devotional guides such as The Upper Room, Still Speaking Daily Devotional; Henri Nouwen’s Daily Meditations; World in Prayer (weekly)
- Consider the power of music to open hearts to experience God’s presence: Breathe on Me, Breath of God; Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart; Holy, Holy, Holy