The Terrifying and Beckoning God

2012 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference


In this 50-minute session from the 2012 TGC Women’s Conference, Tim Keller walks women through Exodus 19 to describe the order of grace and the terrifying, yet beckoning nature of God.

Tim is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He is co-founder and vice president of The Gospel Coalition and author of numerous books including The Reason for God and Prayer.



Tim waked us through Exodus 19 to explain: 
  1. The history and order of grace (vv. 1–8)
  2. The terrifying and beckoning nature of God (vv. 9–19)
  3. The need for Moses (vv. 20–25) 

God took the Israelites to Mt. Sinai, a mountainous desert in the opposite direction of the Promised Land. Tim said, “The history of grace in our lives follows this: He takes us father away from where we think we’re going.” How has this been true in your own walk with Christ? When have you expected a land of milk and honey, only to find yourself in a desert? What did God do in your heart, and how has it impacted your faith today?
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Exodus 19:4-6 (ESV)

4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.5Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;6and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Tim explained how Exodus 19:4–6 illustrates the order of grace:

  1. Grace is first a saving act of God, 
  2. That motivates our obedience, 
  3. That leads to blessing.

Tim said, “God did not give the Israelites the Law to save them, He already saved them…the person who understands this [order] will be motivated by love and gratitude.” 

What motivates your obedience and why? How did this teaching help you understand the relationship between grace, obedience, and blessing?
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Tim quoted Alec Motyer who described the thick cloud over Mt. Sinai as God “shrouding, not abandoning or diminishing, His glory so that he can accommodate himself to live amongst His people, to grace the with a presence which in its awful holiness, would otherwise spell destruction.” 

Describe a time when you were struck with the holiness of God and your unworthiness before Him. How does learning more about His nature and character humble you, encourage you, and remind you of your need for Jesus?
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God dwells with us today through the death and mediation of Jesus. Tim said, “Because Jesus was shaken, we can live unshakeable lives.” How do you dwell with God today? How can you live a more unshakeable life in Christ?
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Oh, that we might grasp the grace of our God who brought us up on eagles wings, by Himself and for Himself. May we know and love our God who saved us from death, not because we were worthy of life, but because He loves. 


To learn more about The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and how you can attend the next event, click here.