A Love Letter

Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

today’s suggested reading

Exodus 19-20, Psalm 91

Today’s Audio

Fifty days after God miraculously rescued His chosen people from 400 years of Egyptian slavery and gave them hope for a future of freedom and flourishing, He asked them to pause at the foot of Mount Sinai.

“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself,” He said. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” Exodus 19:4-6.

Unconditional love, mercy, and patience overflowed from these descriptive words. In the 50 days of their journey into the desert, God’s people had quarreled endlessly like toddlers and grumbled like teens. How quickly they had forgotten how God had miraculously delivered them from their oppressors because He had a plan to bless them in a new homeland. How quickly they had overlooked that God was always with them in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, for He longed to share an intimate relationship with them. How quickly they forgot the sweet waters coming from bitter springs, the bread and quail from heaven, the provision of rest, and victory over enemies.

They were a selfish people, and yet God never gave up on His chosen people. Knowing they needed constant reminders of His power and love, He sent thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in the thunder. The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up (Exodus 19:16-20).

Thunder. Lightning. Thick clouds. Loud trumpet blasts. An earthquake. Smoke. God put on an incredible show to get the attention of His people, so they would grasp the importance of the love letter. He was about to write to them with His finger on two stone tablets.

His words of the covenant declared, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

These men, women, and children had been forced to work all day every day by a people who had conjured up and crafted hundreds of deities to worship. The Egyptians had a god for just about everything, and at the foot of Mount Sinai, God reminded the Israelites that He, the LORD God, is the self-sufficient one. He reminded them of who He is and of their costly deliverance to make them His special people.

The Israelites were walking toward a promised land that was home to idol-worshipping people, who would tempt them to stray from the path of God’s best for them, and they needed to cling to what was true. So, with words that even a small child could understand, He declared in love: You shall have no other gods before me. 

Then came nine other commands on how to live God-honoring lives toward Him and toward others in a new land. He reminded them that He spoke to them. Rescued them from slavery. Was jealous for their affections. Was just. Loved them. Would continue to defend His character. Blessed their rest from work. Promised blessing flowing from honor. Guarded them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

While the Israelites were quick to covenant with God to follow His best for their lives, they failed just as quickly to obey the Ten Words. They suffered from spiritual amnesia and failed to live in awe of Him. They saw their need not only for a physical deliverance from slavery but a spiritual one, too. They needed the first whispered hope in the garden to finally come and crush the evil one, but until His arrival, they would sacrifice animals to temporarily make themselves right with God.

As the law revealed their sin, God set the stage for His perfect Son to become man in order to sacrifice His life to carry His children to their Father on eagles’ wings. This Son of God would become the once-for-all sacrifice to usher in the new covenant of grace and mercy. He would become their hope realized.

God’s people 20 years old and older, the ones who had grumbled against Him and doubted His power to lead them into the Promised Land, would die in the desert during 40 years of wandering, except for Caleb and Joshua. These men were the only ones on a 12-man scouting trip who believed that God would make a way for them to be victorious in the Promised Land, and they would lead a beautiful rescue mission of hope during the Israelites’ first days in their new homeland. As you read or listen to Exodus 19 and 20 and Psalm 91, may you remember that God is in the business of rescue, and we can trust Him.

today’s Song

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Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.