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Sermon Discussion + Prayer: "Mercy from First to Last"

Overview of Mercy From First to Last (Exodus 33:1-23):
In Exodus 33, we behold the faithful God extending goodness and mercy to an unfaithful people. After the Israelites broke the second commandment, God announced that he would not go with them anymore and began meeting Moses in a small tent far outside of the camp. There, Moses offers a stunning prayer for the people based solely on God’s unmerited favor. In response, God mercifully restores his covenant relationship with Israel. We can take heart in knowing that God will also be merciful to us, because he does not change. Furthermore, we have been given a greater sign of his goodness and a deeper assurance of his mercy in Christ crucified!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Take a moment to read Exodus 33 as if for the first time. How does this passage prove God’s “willingness to show mercy to the unworthy and the idolatrous”?
  2. Looking at verses 1-6, CJ mentioned that God was merciful in not going with the people since his holiness would consume them in their sin. After their repentance and Moses’ intercession, God renews his promise to go with them. Considering your own life, why is repentance from sin necessary before we can expect to experience God’s presence and glory?
  3. Read verses 12-16 again. What does the nature and location of the “small tent” represent? How does that compare to God’s promises of dwelling with us today?
  4. Moses’ prayer requests are rooted in God’s undeserved favor (vv. 12-16).  How does knowing that your every request is based on God’s undeserved favor encourage you to pray audaciously? For your family? For our church? For our neighbors?
  5. Whether alone or with your community group, take a moment to pray, and pray audaciously! Pray for God’s favor, his presence, and his glory to be shown in the lives of those around you.
  6. How are you regularly marveling at the mercy of God?
  7. Moses leveraged his favor before God on behalf of the Israelites. This week, who will you tell about the greater Mediator, Jesus Christ, who leveraged his favor before God on their behalf?

Praying the Passage:

After creating an image of God in disobedience to the second commandment-so they might have a god they could see and touch-they would no longer have the presence of the true and living as they experienced Him since leaving Egypt and at Mt. Sinai. “but I will not go up among you…”
Heavenly Father, may your response to the sin of your people remind me of your abhorrence of sin. May it stir my hatred of sin. And may it remind me that my sin deserves no less. But rather than separate yourself from me, you sacrificed your Son in my place, that you might draw near to me, and I to you.

And notice the location of the tent: V7-“…outside the camp, far off from the camp…”
This location reminded the Israelites that God was distant from the people and not dwelling with the people because of their great sin.
Lord, when I read Romans 8, under the New Covenant: For I am sure that neither...anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, may such overwhelming kindness compel me to joyful obedience and faith-filled peace...under any circumstance!

Moses believed that a mere angel going before him was no substitute for God himself going “with” him...So, he prays, Lord, on the basis of what you have said, “I have found favor in your sight”, I am an object of your undeserved love, election, saving and calling: V13-“…please show me now your ways…”
Lord, I am convicted by the occasions of my going my own way without you...without depending on you, and without desiring and insisting on your active presence. May I now be eagerly inspired to always abide in you, acknowledging you in all my ways, with the confidence that you will never leave me or forsake me.

Remember it was the honor and glory of God among the nations that informed Moses prayer...
Alec Motyer – True prayer does not seek – rather refuses – glory for self…True prayer is concerned for the Lord’s good name.
Lord, thank you for inviting us to bring our needs to you in prayer. Help me to always be motivated by, and to consider the specific ways in which my requests please and honor you, and bring glory to your name.

v.19 “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”
That is a summary of what the Lord has done in rescuing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and now renewing the covenant with them following their “great sin.”
Exodus is all about the mercy of God toward the underserving and the ill-deserving.
Father, thank you for the way the book of Exodus gives us a glimpse of your perfect holiness and infinite mercy. May we as a church family always remember that every glimpse in Exodus is brought into full display in the Gospels. Help us as Sovereign Grace Church to live in the wonder that that deliverance was a foretaste of an even more dramatic deliverance through a more glorious mediator and deliverer...our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!