Texts: Exodus 3:1-15; Exodus 12:1-36; Exodus 20:4-5; Exodus 32:1-6; Exodus 33:12-23
Opening Question: “Does it make sense to worship we know not what?”
This week we will be looking at the subject of worship as it is found in the book of Exodus. And opening question that could be used to help focus our discussion is one that asks if you are worshipping something you know not what? In other words, are you worshipping knowingly, in an informed fashion, or are you worshipping by instinct and without intelligence?
In the book of Exodus, we encounter early instances of the Children of Israel worshipping and, discovering more and more about the character and nature of the God who saved them from slavery.
- The first story is the one in Exodus 3:1-15, the story of Moses and his encounter with the burning bush out in the desert. This is a rather strange story, but it is quite informative about worship and God:
- What do you learn from the comment about “holy ground?” What does it say about God, and by extension, the things associated with God?
- What do you make of Moses reaction, not only taking off his shoes, but also his self-effacing comments?
- What was Moses’ self-perception at the point of his encounter with God?
- What caused the sense of reverence, awe, and even fear in Moses? Do you think that should be part of worship today?
- Another story with worship overtones in the book of Exodus is the story of Passover and the death of the firstborn son, found in Exodus 112:27.
- What would be the significance of the Hebrew word for worship used here (it means “to bow down”) almost always appearing in a verb form?
- Notice how the ritual of worship was connected to deliverance – the firstborn was spared if the family obeyed the commands of God. Can you create a link between worship and deliverance?
- A truly awesome experience took place at Mt. Sinai when God came down to give the 10 Commandments. The experience left the Hebrews shaken, actually asking Moses to speak with God to ensure that no such events occurred again. There are several things to learn from this encounter in the desert:
- Notice the prohibition against the worship of any other entities, gods. Why do you think this is the very first commandment given? Is God being selfish here?
- What kind of list of modern “gods” can you construct? Are these worse than the ancient gods?
- In Exodus 32, there is the incident of the creation of the Golden Calf, an express contravention of God’s commandments. Several teachings can be drawn from this, too:
- What event opened the way for this grand expression of false worship?
- Notice that when Joshua, who was coming down the mountain with Moses, heard the noise from below, he suggested there must be war in the camp. This would not suggest a sense of awe and reverence down there.
- Why did those who had met with God at Sinai so quickly resort to idol worship? How do you think something like this could be prevented?
- What was the role of leadership in the grand rebellion?
- In Exodus 33, there is a very touching interchange between God and Moses, one in which Moses asks to “see God’s glory.” God, in a sense, acquiesced in that He hid Moses in a cleft of the rock and then passed by so Moses could see Him from behind.
- Can you explain why seeing God’s face was not allowed?
- What do you make of God accommodating the request of Moses?
- Notice the highly relational language in this passage, Moses wanting to know and see God.
- It is interesting that God’s glory, majesty, and holiness did not diminish God’s willingness to associate with Moses, though there were some barriers that had to be overcome.
- Can worship still take place in an atmosphere of familiarity?
- What do you think could be done today to keep alive a sense of awe and reverence to God?
- How do these stories and incidents in Exodus help us be more informed in our worship of God?