Turning Away from God

Exodus 30-32

Exodus 32 8 a NIV
Since I was 14 years old (24 straight years, yikes!), I have scheduled a week of my summer to go to our annual youth camp – now known as FUEL. Most of my closest moments with God have come during those weeks. It started the first year and I knew I had to experience it again.
I would come home with a great passion and zeal because of that closeness I experienced with God. Sadly, when I went back to home/school/life, I was surrounded by a group that just wasn’t as close to God as I felt. They were often church folk that knew of and had experienced God before but just had lost that once held passion. Although I was just close with God, my passion was often quickly drained.
This is where we find Moses in Exodus 32. He has just spent an extended period of time in the presence of God on Mount Sinai. Outside of the Garden – it is an unprecedented closeness between God and mankind. We see how quickly things change as Moses comes down the mountain and reunites with the others.
Realize these same people: saw the 10 plagues, crossed the Red Sea (on dry ground), received manna from Heaven and drank from a rock. They were set free by God and had a unique dependance on him. In a moment of boredom, or impatience, we see them move on from their God.
Moses finds them dancing like pagans around a man made “god” – they gave out of their valuable possessions and made an idol.
God is so mad he considers destroying the nation and Moses is so mad he destroys the first tablets with the commandments on them.
Like Genesis chapter 3 (first sin by Adam and Eve), we see a favored group of people fail to trust and obey. Both times they rationalize their behavior (read: make excuses) and both times we see a loss of privileges and harsh punishments.
We may find it silly to worship a calf – but what do we worship?
We often only think of idols as the “big” sins – we know those and we would never do that, right? But an idol is anything we place between God and us.
So, I ask again: What do you worship? What do you show love, adoration and devotion?
The list will differ based on the individual. A few examples – is it the pursuit of money and stuff? Is it social media, Netflix/Disney plus or video games? Shopping, sports, comfort, food… etc?
Just like those who came before us, we have a habit of giving our worship to something other than the only one who deserves it. We are good at making excuses.
If you have made it this far, I challenge you to look at your life – remember the closest times you have had with God and strive for that closeness. Don’t let the things of this world put out your fire and steal that passion.

 

John Wincapaw

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+30-32&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Exodus 33-35 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

What Kind of Heart Do You Have?

Hebrews 8

Hebrews 8 10

The messes people get themselves into.  Moses had gone off to the top of the mountain to be with God.  Out of that mountain God called out to Moses and laid out a wonderful plan for his people.  God told Moses that He had done wonderful things for His people, Israel, and that His people had seen with their own eyes what He had done to those miserable Egyptians.  Through those terrible trials with the Egyptians, God had been like an eagle and had bore His people, Israel, on His wings and had brought His people to Himself.  They were safe.  They were free.  They had a wonderful future ahead of them.  He described those blessings to them.  Israel would be His very own treasured possession, they would be a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.  Oh, the life, safe in the arms of the God of the universe!  It was theirs.  All they had to do was…. if only…why couldn’t they have done what He asked?  Oh, the messes we get ourselves into (Exodus 19:3-6)!

It would have been simple.  Very simple.  If only.  Instead they decided to build that stupid calf.  Not only did they build a calf, but they used their own treasured possessions to build it.  They gave up their own treasured possessions of gold to build a calf which would cause them to lose their position as the most treasured possession of God Himself.

All they had to do was simply obey God’s voice.  Instead they decided to obey the voice of sin.  Aaron described them well.  He told Moses, “you know these people.  All they think about is evil.”  (Exodus 32:22).  All they had to do was simple…simply listen to the voice of God Who had delivered them out of the worse mess they had ever been in while they were in Egypt.  All they had to do was listen to the voice of Him who loved them the most and keep His commandments.

God’s anger burned hot against His people! Moses’ anger burned hot against the people!  Then things really turned crazy!  Moses came down that mountain with his hands full carrying the commandments of God, written by God Himself, on two stone tablets front and back (Ex. 32:15-19).  It doesn’t say, but I think Moses’ might have thought he could straighten out the people by showing them those stone tablets containing the commandments of God.  Instead, they became part of the carnage.  When Moses saw what the people were doing, dancing and singing and worshiping a stupid calf, he threw those tablets made of stone and they broke in a million pieces.  He then took that golden calf, burned it and ground it to powder, then scattered it on the water and made the people drink it!  Their precious golden calf made by their precious golden jewelry was gone forever!

But God was not through with them yet.  God sent a plague on the people because they (correction – Aaron) made the calf.  We reap what we sow.  (Exodus 32:35).

End of story, right?  Nope.  God was not through with them yet.

Let’s fast forward to Hebrews 8.  Amazingly God was not through with the house of Israel and the house of Judah yet.  Here, Paul tells us that God is establishing a new covenant with them and with us.  The first one, written on tablets of stone long ago, will be replaced with one written in our minds and on our hearts.  Until the commandments and promises of God are written on our hearts and become flesh, we cannot become new people.   We are simply stone people. This new covenant, of which Jesus is the high priest, will not be displayed on tablets of stone which can be broken into a million pieces, but will be in our hearts and minds. Our old heart of stone will be removed, and a new heart of flesh will be given to us (Ezekiel 11:19).  This new covenant will change our minds and hearts because Jesus, the new high priest, is able to save us to the uttermost (completely and at all times).

What kind of heart do you have?  One of stone which serves sin and will break in a million pieces when sin is exposed?  Or one of flesh which loves and serves God who considers us His most treasured possession?

Luke Elwell

The Israelites Mess Up Again, Shocker! (Exodus 31-34)

By Josiah Cain

Tissot_The_Golden_Calf

There is a lot to cover in these chapters and a lot of cool and terrible stories take place. Of course, in normal Israelite fashion, we find the people of God disobeying orders. They make a golden calf statue to worship while Moses is away on Mt. Sinai. God tells Moses that the people are messing up and Moses then pleads with God not to destroy them; if it wasn’t for Moses the Israelites would not have made it very far. So Moses goes down to see what is happening and ends up destroying the tablets that God made and the golden calf the people made. Moses then orders the Levites to kill the people who disobeyed God and this is the same event that made the Levites the priestly tribe for the rest of Jewish history. In total 3,000 people ended up dying that day at the hands of the Levites but that wasn’t enough for God; God later in the evening sent a plague to kill some of the Israelites and finally all the punishment was over. The Jews really can’t seem to keep themselves out of trouble.

There are many things that I don’t envy about Moses, like the time he killed that Egyptian, but if there is one thing I am jealous of, it would be the way he talks to God. It says in chapter 33 that God talked to Moses face to face. What? How cool is that! Can you imagine talking to God face to face?!? It is incredible to think that Moses literally heard the voice of God and sat in the same place as God dwelt. I would give anything to commune with God in this way. Reading the way that God and Moses communicate just builds my anticipation for the coming kingdom even more.

Moses actually spent so much time with God that his face started to glow. I can’t imagine what this would have looked like but it was enough to scare some of the Israelites apparently. I wonder if we will have glowing faces when we spend a bunch of time with God? It did stink for Moses though that he had to hand carve the Ten Commandments again. I would still trade 40 days of no eating and stone carving for that much time with God.

Thanks for reading again and please take to heart the lessons that we can learn from the Israelites. If we follow God’s rules then everything works out for us in the end. I also think that we can learn patience from this story. The only reason they made the statue in the first place was because they were worried that Moses wasn’t coming back. We need to wait because God always has things under control.