Passage: Exodus 19:1–19:25
Community Group Questions: Exodus 19 "Meeting God"
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- Exodus 19 is about Israel’s official meeting with God at Mt. Sinai. Have you ever had to prepare for an extremely important meeting? Share the story with the group. How did you prepare? How did you feel in the hours leading up to that meeting? Now, discuss what it must have been like for Israel to prepare to meet with the living God. Read Exodus 19:1-25 aloud as a group and discuss your initial impressions of this chapter.
- Exodus 19:1-6 shows us the “immanence” of God. Immanence is the theological term describing God’s closeness to his creation, and his intimacy with his creatures. Now that God had rescued Israel from slavery, he intended to live in a close, covenant relationship with them. God explains to Moses that he intends to treat the people as his “treasured possession,” a “kingdom of priests,” and a “holy nation.” Discuss each of these terms. What do they teach us about God and his people? What do these terms teach us about God’s intention to draw near in intimate relationship with his people? Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. How does Peter apply the terms from Exodus to Christian believers, and how should this encourage us in our walk with Christ today?
- Exodus 19:7-25 especially emphasizes the “transcendence” of God. God’s transcendence is his “otherness.” It describes the fact that God is awesome in holiness, purity, majesty, and greatness. His being and his ways are “higher” than our own. He is “an infinite cut above” his creation. What things does God use to communicate his awesome transcendence in this account? What should you and I learn about who God is in his greatness by exploring this chapter of Scripture?
- Do you think the “boundaries” God put around the mountain, the death penalty for those who violated them, and the theophanies (thunder, lightening, cloud, trumpet blast, earthquake, smoke, fire) are over the top? Is God cruel in setting such boundaries and terrifying the people through these awesome manifestations of his presence, or are these boundaries and manifestations somehow gracious of God?
- Do you think modern evangelical Christians respect the transcendence of God to the degree the Bible calls us to? What would our worship, our prayers, our speech about God, and our lifestyle look life if we really took seriously the awesome majesty of the God we claim to serve?
- This text seems to hold out a contradiction. On the one hand, God says to his people “Draw near!” (be close to me, as my treasured possession, etc.). On the other hand, God says to his people “Stand back!” (don’t even touch the mountain, or you will be executed!). How does this contradiction drive us to the role of Moses (see 19:9)? How does Moses’ role point us to Jesus? How does a relationship with Jesus make it possible for sinful people to draw near to an infinitely holy and majestic God?
- The people are told that they must “wash their garments” (vs. 10-11). Assuming they were camped in a barren desert, where would the people find water to wash their clothes? (review the story in 17:1-7, and Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 10:4). How does this detail in the story give us a further clue that Jesus is the key to drawing near to God, and that we need to be washed and spiritually clothed by him?
- In your life, would you say that you struggle more with comprehending the “immanence” of God or the “transcendence” of God? How does this passage help you, and what steps do you need to take in your life to grow in relating to God in all his fullness?
Prayer idea: Spend time worshiping God for who he is, thanking him for various attributes of his character. Next, confess the areas of our lives where we have resisted the immanence of God by pushing him away. Confess those ways in which we have denied the transcendence of God by treating him to casually. Finally, thank Jesus for drawing us into the presence of God through his saving work on our behalf, and ask God to show us how to draw close to him with a sense of holy reverence.