Welcome to the first BONUS BLOG! We had so much to unpack from chapters 32-34 of Exodus, so please enjoy this inductive study.
We see in chapters 32-34 of Exodus the flagrant breaking and disregard for the commandments of God. Moses had gone up the mountain to receive the tablets of the Ten Commandments, and in that time, the people of Israel had asked Moses’ second in command, Aaron, to build them an idol so that they may worship it. Aaron agrees and melts down their earrings and jewelry to produce a golden calf. They proceed to dance and sing and feast around it, saying “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” This travesty is revealed by the Lord to Moses who is still on the mountain. The Lord tells Moses that He will destroy Israel for this, but Moses intercedes on behalf of the people.
Moses proceeds down the mountain and dashes the stone tablets against it when he sees the wickedness of the people. At his command, the sons of Levi gather together with swords and strike down 3,000 of the people who had instigated the breaking of their covenant which is followed by plague. Following this, Moses orders that the people leave Sinai and do it without wearing any ornaments. We are then told of the Tent of Meeting where Moses would speak face-to-face with God. Moses intercedes with the Lord once more and asks Him to continue to lead his covenant people, otherwise Moses would not move. The Lord agrees and, when Moses asks to see His glory, he is hidden in the cleft of the rock as He passes by.
After this, Moses climbs back up Mount Sinai and works out another set of tablets before the Lord who renews His covenant with His people, declaring He will bring Israel to the promised land and do signs and wonders which they have never seen before. Moses comes down the mountain, his face shining so brightly that the people asked him to wear a veil any time after speaking with the Lord.
There is so much that we can focus on here and much to be discussed, however let us keep in mind Pastor Dave’s reminder to focus on the big picture in scripture. Moses served as a familiar and physical reminder for the Israelites of the way God had worked, not to mention the pillars of cloud and fire which were the presence of God Himself. Yet the they showed remarkable short-sightedness after watching Moses disappear up the mountain and assuming he was lost to them.
All that Israel had to do was sit tight until God had finished his work with the tablets and all would be well. They had ceased their grumbling, they had water, mana, and quail – but the people hankered after a physical image of God and were not satisfied to simply wait. They were eager to return to their time of simple ignorance. Their impulsiveness and impatience demanded that Aaron make an idol for them to worship. We see in these few chapters the anger and indignation that the Lord felt, and it is fitting.
After all, if our Holy God does not hate sin, He is not Holy at all. Worse still, Israel had just agreed to these covenant terms and wholeheartedly endorsed them. They had seen the incredible works done for them, the wonders performed, and the care given, yet as soon as the Lord was out of sight, they lost who they truly were and turned to idol worship. It would be one thing for a foreign people to do these things, but the expectations are clearly higher for those who had seen these mighty things firsthand. 2 Peter 2:21 says “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
How does this make you feel? I think it is safe to say that, while we believe in God and try to follow his commandments, we find it so easy to forget what he has done and how we ought to live. Though how can we hope to live up to the law that the Lord has given us?
Enter the Gospel!
The Good News is that we have something the Israelites did not: we are the physical temple of the most Holy God! We have His Spirit in us and it is this Spirit that convicts the world of sin, who teaches and enables us to please God. In the book of Hebrews chapter 10 it says "This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My laws in their hearts and inscribe them on their minds." Again in Philippians 2:13 it tells us “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
The path is narrow and the way difficult that leads to eternal life, but praise God for giving us His only Son and working in us through the Holy Spirit - It is by the death of Jesus Christ that our debt of sin was cancelled– He took the penalty of our sin! It is by Him that we can please Him, and we do not need to look longingly up the mountain for His presence. We are His living temple, His prized possession, and He is all we should ever worship and adore. Again in Hebrews 12:24 - “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
Let us read one of the verses of In Christ Alone –
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on him was laid --
Here in the death of Christ I live.
What does the death of Christ mean to you? How has it saved us?
Thank you Lord for being so patient with us, for forgiving and healing us, and for bringing us along in your goodness. We thoroughly thank and praise you for making us your people, and we ask that you continue to direct and guide us into deeper knowledge and intimacy with you.
In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found) - Adrienne Liesching
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.