The God of Compassion and Mercy–Exodus 34

It was time to set the record straight. God was ticked. Like any parent, when their child behaves poorly and recklessly, God wanted to make clear such behavior was unacceptable. But, he also reaffirmed his covenant with his people. 

This time Moses carved out the tablets. This time Moses traveled alone. He and God came to terms to bring back the liberation God started with the Exodus from Egypt. 

It is never God’s choice to be separated from his chosen. It is always our choice to walk independent of his leadership. Without fail, when we do, we end up miserable and alone. When we repent and return and submit to his lordship, as with Israel–God becomes the Lord of compassion and Mercy. He reaffirms his commitment and picks up the journey. 

We must remember he loves us and seeks for us a full and meaningful life here and for eternity. 

God Bless You

The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,“Yahweh! The Lord!The God of compassion and mercy!I am slow to angerand filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.But I do not excuse the guilty.I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”

Moses immediately threw himself to the ground and worshiped.

And he said, “O Lord, if it is true that I have found favor with you, then please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession.”

 

Face to Face–Exodus 33 Final

It would be daunting to be the intercessor for the Israelites. As God aptly described, they were a stubborn and rebellious people. But, their care and liberation made Moses depend daily on leadership from God. That dependence drew him so close to God–that they spoke face to face as friends.  

Moses relationship with God not only shaped him, but, it shaped Joshua, his successor.  Joshua saw Moses before and after his chats with God and knew better than anyone of the significance.

It also shaped the people. They became reverent not only to God, but also to Moses. They watched and stopped their activities to honor their leader’s visits with God. 

In our lives, we need to realize the impact our daily walk has on us, our friends and those we deal with every day. They watch and as we allow him to lead, they become open to doing the same. When we are friends with the Lord, they cannot help but either desire the same, or at least envy the difference. 

That is why, our role as his ambassador is real and critical. The More we look like him, the more others will either desire that relationship or at least envy its effect. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and know I am grateful for the amazing family and friends he has blessed me with. 

God Bless You

Whenever Moses went out to the Tent of Meeting, all the people would get up and stand in the entrances of their own tents. They would all watch Moses until he disappeared inside.

As he went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and hover at its entrance while the Lord spoke with Moses.

When the people saw the cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, they would stand and bow down in front of their own tents.

Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterward Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting.

Mourning–Exodus 33 Part 1

Plagues, death and punishment were expected by the people after their sin at the foot of Mount Sinai. But, the one thing the people were not ready for–was the idea that God was giving up on them. The idea that God did not want anything to do with them sent Israel into mourning. 

They had no idea that their actions could impact God’s feelings for them. The primary reason–they did not care. Up to that moment, it had been all about them. Their liberation, their safety, their food and water and finally their worship. Now, for the 1st time they realized, they were the problem and they mourned. 

God does care. He wants for his own to enjoy a full and meaningful journey. But, we have to live lives that honor him and allow him to lead and prepare us for eternity. He does not appreciate spoiled little children so self-centered that they can’t even comprehend the impact their choices have on others. 

We should live lives that honor God. We do not want to be known as a stubborn and rebellious people–that God needs a break from. 

God Bless You. 

The Lord said to Moses, “Get going, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt. Go up to the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I told them, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’

And I will send an angel before you to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

Go up to this land that flows with milk and honey. But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way.”

When the people heard these stern words, they went into mourning and stopped wearing their jewelry and fine clothes.

For the Lord had told Moses to tell them, “You are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I were to travel with you for even a moment, I would destroy you. Remove your jewelry and fine clothes while I decide what to do with you.”

Restart–Exodus 32 Final

Moses had truly matured into a servant leader. This upstart prince turned shepherd was literally all that stood between God’s wrath and Israel. There was no undoing the dreadful acts of the liberated slaves, so Moses returned to God’s presence to simply explore a way to restart. Remember, the story is greatly affected by God’s knowing all things. You see, God was not surprised by his chosen children’s sin—he was simply saddened. God gave Israel every possible physical sign that he was present—and focused upon protecting, providing and preparing them for their return to the promised land. Despite his effort, the people were simply unable or unwilling to relinquish their need to control and allow God to make them great.

Today, the church is much the same. Despite his continued provision and protection, we are quick to turn our backs and take control. When we do, God is not necessarily surprised, he is simply saddened at our unwillingness to trust him. But, like Moses, the Holy Spirit intercedes and draws us back to God. He comforts, corrects and guides us to the truth that God in charge makes our lives amazing.   If we will repent of our retaking of control and allow God to again lead, we too can restart and experience his blessing.

God Bless You

The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to the Lord on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.”

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves.

But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!”

But the Lord replied to Moses, “No, I will erase the name of everyone who has sinned against me.

Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about. Look! My angel will lead the way before you. And when I come to call the people to account, I will certainly hold them responsible for their sins.”

Then the Lord sent a great plague upon the people because they had worshiped the calf Aaron had made.

The Consequences–Exodus 32 Continued

There had to be a day of reckoning. After only 6 weeks from when they heard God speak and saw him make a covenant, the Israelites totally abandoned God. They violated each command related to worship and became so unruly that their enemies considered them a joke. As Moses approached them, the consequence of their sin became real. First Moses destroyed the tablets that God prepared that listed the terms of the covenant. What heart break to see God’s handiwork destroyed. Next, their “God” was melted down and the people drank it in their water—What a waste of gold, what a waste of time. Moses showed how ridiculous it was to worship an idol–mere feet from the true and living God. Third, Moses separated and killed the people that truly abandoned God—3000 lives were ended. Finally, Moses had to return and bargain for the people’s lives, rather than lead them to their new home in triumph.

 God simply wants our trust and willingness to follow. Circumstances in life sometimes cause us to question where God is in our lives. We are tempted to worship what we can see and follow what we can touch. Sadly, there are consequences for those choices. Those consequences often destroy what we have attained and give God’s enemies cause to laugh. More importantly, it wastes time, money and effort that could be spent furthering the kingdom of God–rather than making God a laughing stock. If we will simply trust him and follow him, we will see his glory and experience his blessing throughout this amazing Journey. Failure to follow him will only drag us down, ruin us and could ultimately lead to our demise. As the Hymn says, “Trust and Obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but, to trust and obey.”

God Bless You

When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

25 Moses that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.

27 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

God Changed His Mind–Exodus 32 Part 2

When one considers the lengths that God went to in order to free the Israelites, it is not difficult to accept that he would destroy them for simply abandoning him. 

Still, even this horrible betrayal  showed that God’s pick of Moses was the right one. He stood as a barrier between God’s wrath and the people. What’s more, he convinced God to spare them. The people’s sin was great, but, somehow, God’s grace was greater. 

In our lives, Jesus acts like Moses. He stands between God’s wrath and us. No matter the sin, through Christ, God forgives us and leads us. We then are called to be like him and walk in his footsteps. We represent him to the world. As we do, others will see him and choose also to follow. 

We must, like Moses, seek God and trust him to withhold his wrath because he loves us. 

God Bless You

 

Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are.

Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.”

But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand?

Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!

Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself with an oath to them, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. And I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.’”

So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.

 

The Golden Calf–Exodus 32 Part 1

Stress is a funny thing. As a race, when we are placed under stress, we revert back to the most survival like behavior. For the children of Israel, that meant worshiping false idols like they saw in Egypt. 

Ironically, the people could see God working up on top of the mountain.  They heard his voice, he fed them daily, he led them by pillar smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night. Still, after only six weeks, they abandoned their freedom and chased selfish warship of a golden calf.

We are little different than the children of Israel. When stress becomes great, we revert back to the people we were before Christ took control. Instead of a calf, we worship cars, entertainment, sex and power. Our altar is a flatscreen TV or computer screen. 

As we will see, both then and now, such worship is futile and destructive. We, as his children, must cling to him, and worship him. As we do, he  can bless us protect us and guide us. It takes faith, courage and discipline, but he will even provide that if we allow it. 

We must decide to trust him in all circumstances or we will become slaves to sin and stupidity. Worship NO other God before him

God Bless You

When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”

So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.”

All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron.

Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!”