Sunday June 24th
A man arrived home from work promptly at 5pm as he always did each day but as soon as he stepped through the door, his wife started yelling at him.
"Why don't you ever wipe your feet before walking into the house? ..... Where's the shopping I asked you to do on the way home? ..... Why don't you ever buy me flowers anymore?"
This goes on for nearly 2 hours - nothing he says or does seems to be good enough for her. By 7 o’clock, he decides to try a diplomatic approach.
"Darling," he says, "Please - let's start over. Let me go back outside and shut the door. Then I'll open the door and come in again. And we can pretend I've just come home. What do you think about that?"
"OK," she replies reluctantly.
So he puts on his coat, goes outside, shuts the door, waits about a minute, opens the door, and steps inside with a smile on his face. He announces, in a musical tone, "Oh darling, I'm home."
And his wife says, "And just where have you been? It's after seven o'clock!"
In Exodus chapter 34 God allows Moses to start over with a new copy of the 10 Commandments:
Now the Lord said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. 2 So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. 3 No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.” 4 So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.
God is being very gracious to Moses here, because Moses had smashed the original copies of the 10 Commandments to pieces in anger when the people were worshipping the golden calf. But God is a God of second chances (and third and fourth and fifth chances) which is exactly how He describes himself to Moses:
5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. 6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
This same description of God’s faithfulness and love is found in quite a few other scriptures, such as Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8, Joel 2:13 and Jonah 4:2. The point of these verses is that God’s mercy is continually available despite the dismal failure of His people to follow His commandments. He will not abandon His people even when they abandon Him.
Now look at the request that Moses makes on behalf of the people:
8 Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. 9 He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.”
Moses specifically asks God to “go along in our midst”. But back in chapter 33 God specifically said that He would not do this, because the people were too sinful, too “stiff-necked”
Exodus 33:3 “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way.”
God told Moses that He couldn’t go along for the journey with this sinful, stiff-necked bunch of Hebrews, but now Moses points out that their sinfulness is the very reason why they so desperately need the Presence of God.
Moses knows that God has a soft and tender heart towards them, despite their repeated failures. And God confirms that with His reply:
10 Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you.
So God says, “Alright, I’m going to do this thing for you, but you better understand that this is serious process! If I do what you’re asking me to do, there are some things that I expect from you also:
11 “Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. 12 Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13 But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— 15 otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.
God is always willing to give us another try, but He warns the Israelites that they can’t just keep repeating the same old patterns. If they want Him to be their God, He will renew His covenant with them. But they can’t be in covenant with Him if they are going to make covenants with all of the pagan groups that they will meet in the Promised Land. And especially if they start worshipping their pagan Gods!
Verses 17-27 summarize their part in the covenant:
28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
So Moses completes his task, look what happens next:
29 It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
Matthew 17:1-2 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John the brother of James, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.2 And His appearance changed dramatically in their presence; and His face shone [with heavenly glory, clear and bright] like the sun, and His clothing became as white as light.
2nd Corinthians 2:18 but we all with unveiled faces are being transformed into this same image from glory to glory.
My Grandmother who raised me did not drive so as a child we had to walk and take the bus or someone would pick us up for a ride. It was often frustrating because when you rely on others you can’t just get up and go, you have to wait! Since I was eighteen I have been driving and I just love being able to go where I want when I want.
My wife is from the island of St. Lucia and when we travel there we rely on others to get us where we need to go. It is one of the most difficult places to drive because of steep hills and narrow roads and we want to save money by not renting a vehicle. We traveled there this past April and we said, “enough is enough,” we are renting a car, and we are just going to learn to drive on the difficult roads. It was so nice to arrive on the island and just get going and go wherever we wanted when we wanted.
Here in Exodus 33, the Lord says to Moses, “Get going, you and the people you brought from Egypt.” It is nice when the waiting season is over and it is time to get going, it is exciting! The children of Israel had been going around in circles, but the time was over. We get stuck in circles but if we ever learn from our mistakes and develop our faith and trust in God, we will get going. God saved us and has called us to greater things! He wants us to get past ourselves and be used to drive out the enemies in our land. All we have to do is put off our stubborn and rebellious ways and start dressing in His likeness.
The key to moving forward in life with God is found in Exodus 33:11; “”Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses' face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” You can’t walk with someone whom you don’t know or understand. God working in and through our lives can only transpire to the degree of our friendship with Him. All the great men and women in the Bible had one main thing in common, they were friends of God.
In the latter part of verse 11, it says Joshua would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting. He was the one to take Moses place and lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land because He was like Moses spent quality time with God face to face, which is the main qualification of becoming a legend of faith
I remember when I went to my second college, it was far away from home where I didn’t know anyone. Initially, it was exciting, but it soon got frightening, I always had my grandmother who raised me to rely on and now I had to take care of things on my own. It was good for my personal growth but I made bad choices that could easily have been life-altering regarding my future. Thank God that He saved me within a year of when I moved out, for I had hit rock bottom, and if it wasn’t for Him I would likely not be around.
Moses in Exodus 33:12-23 is having a conversation with the Lord, humbly admitting that he cannot move forward without the presence of God going before Him. This is the key to moving with God, humility! The fear of the Lord where one is afraid to move without God.
We too often move ahead and only cry out to God when we think we need Him. Is He is just our lifeline when we are drowning? God should not be like a life insurance plan when we only really turn to Him when we are close to dying. Many believers attend church, give tithes and offerings, pray sometimes, even read scripture occasionally, but regarding the Lord directing their lives, they are far from it.
Moses is telling the Lord, you are telling me where you want me to go but you are not telling me whom will be with me. The Lord assures him that it is He himself that will be with him. Moses in verse 13, asks the Lord to continue to look favorably upon him and help him know His ways and understand Him fully and remember that the nation is His very own people.
This conversation is amazing between Moses and the Lord, it is how friends communicate not acquaintances. The Lord had referred occasionally to the children of Israel as Moses’ people, not His, it came from being so disappointed in their behavior. So it is funny how Moses reminded the Lord that they are truly His people.
Moses humbly acknowledged that without the presence of the Lord, he is no different than anyone else, it is His presence alone that sets them apart. The Lord responds saying “I indeed will do what you have asked, looking favorably on you, for I know you by name.” “Moses responded, then show me your glory.” The Lord’s goodness passes before him, and Moses covered by the crevice of the rock and the hand of God witnesses the Lord pass by him from behind.
Without the shed blood of Jesus, no man could see God face to face. Now that we are in Christ we can experience the fullness of His Glory face to face, communing with Him as His beloved sons and daughters, His personal friends. Let us like Moses each day ask our Heavenly Father to go before us, and that His presence and favor be upon us, as we manifest His glory throughout the earth.
Sunday June 10th
Here’s a little riddle for you about cows:
Do you know how long cows should be milked?
The same way that short cows should be milked!
In Exodus 32 the people of Israel are going to literally have a cow – one that they made for themselves!
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Look how quick they were to just abandon Moses and all that he had taught them about worshipping the true God of Israel. But that’s how people can be – very fickle!
Now the heat is on Moses’ brother Aaron, and he falls into what one writer calls “Male Answer Syndrome”, which is defined as “a tendency of men to answer a question even when they don’t know the right answer.”
I mean, think about it – there is only one correct answer that Aaron can possibly give, and that answer should be “No, I can’t do that, it would be wrong.”
He should have reminded them of what God had already said in Exodus 20 verse 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below…”
But instead of giving THAT answer, Aaron gives THIS answer:
2 Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5 Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Here is how the Jewish Bible commentary explains all of this:
“The Jews needed a tangible representation of the Divine presence in their midst.” They had seen the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire and they wanted some form of visual reminder that God was still with them.
Now remember that, during all of this time, Moses was up on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments.
So God tells Moses to go back down immediately because: "Your people have messed up!"
7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’”
Moses, as a human being, has been completely unaware of what’s been going on down at the bottom of the mountain. But God, who knows all things, is VERY aware of what’s happening among the people that He has chosen and rescued from Egypt. And God offers Moses an interesting choice:
9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. 10 Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
God is offering Moses a reboot! He’s saying, “Listen Moses, you and I both know that this group of Hebrews has been nothing but trouble – grumbling, complaining, rebelling, and now they’re building idols to worship!
How about I just wipe them all out and we start over? I’ll start again with you the way I did with Abraham and with Noah. I’ll find you a new wife and start fresh with your new descendants. What do you think about that?”
But Moses actually has grown to LOVE these people, despite all of their complaints and issues, which is the mark of a true leader. So he answers God this way:
11 Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.
Moses’ argument is basically, “Yeah God, but that would look pretty bad to the Egyptians if you wiped out the entire Hebrew nation after rescuing them, don’t you think?”
Now it says in verse 14 that God changed His mind, but I wonder if God wasn’t just testing Moses, to see what he would say, the same way that God tested Abraham but never really intended to let Abraham sacrifice Isaac.
15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. 16 The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets. 17 Now when Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.” 18 But he said,
“It is not the sound of the cry of triumph,
Nor is it the sound of the cry of defeat;
But the sound of singing I hear.”
Joshua has been faithfully waiting for Moses, somewhere up on the mountain. He hears all of the commotion down below and tells Moses, “It sounds like a battle is going on down there!” But Moses knows the truth, because God has already warned him, so he tells Joshua, “That’s not a battle you’re hearing, it’s a party!”
19 It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.20 He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it.
If Moses had truly talked God out of His anger, maybe he should have planned to deal with his own anger too. Because he goes off the rails when he sees what the people have done. He smashes the Ten Commandments, melts down the golden calf, mixes the melted gold with water, and makes those rebellious Israelites drink it!
Then he has a few choice words for his brother:
21 Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?” 22 Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
Did you catch that hilarious lie? “I don’t know how it got there! I just threw a bunch of gold jewelry into the fire, and the next thing I knew – this calf appeared!”
Yeah, right! Now Moses is going to lay out a challenge:
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies— 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. 27 He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.”
The sons of Levi pledge their loyalty to Moses, and then they help carry out Moses’ judgment against the other Israelites who participated in the idol worship. But where were these guys when the false worship was going on? Why didn’t they speak up then or try to put a stop to it?
After his anger has cooled down, Moses prays to God for forgiveness for the rest of the people:
30 On the next day Moses said to the people, “You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the Lord, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32 But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” 33 The Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, My angel shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.” 35 Then the Lord smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made.
This whole story is one of those that we can too easily file under the category of – “That’s what those Hebrew people did back then, but I’ve never worshipped any golden calves!”
The thing is - idolatry can take a lot of different forms.
And I want to give you an interesting perspective that one writer shared. He wrote this:
We try to make idolatry hit home by naming some modern practices or things as idols: a hobby, a job, a person. A contemporary idol is something or someone that replaces God in our lives. We set something else in God’s place. Idols replace God. That’s how we typically talk about idolatry.
But that’s not the way the story of the golden calf describes idolatry. God isn’t simply being replaced with the image of the golden calf. There’s something else going on. Let’s examine this more closely:
At Aaron’s request, the people give up all their golden jewelry. Aaron melts it down and forms a calf. But the calf isn’t supposed to replace the God of Israel. Instead, the people perceive the calf as a way to worship the God of Israel.
This is what they say when they see it: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” The calf isn’t actually a replacement for God; rather, it is meant to help the people in their attempt to worship the true God. The calf simply functions as a focal point for God’s presence in the midst of the people.
Aaron is very clear about this. He says to the people in verse 5, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” When he says “the Lord” he uses the same name that God gave to Moses at the burning bush—YAHWEH. This golden calf is in some strange way supposed to help the people of Israel worship Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…the God who just saved Israel from Egyptian slavery.
To these people the calf is simply a creative aid for the worship of the Lord; it helps them make God feel present, tangible, and real. For them it served the same purpose as having a worship team or waving banners. It was intended to get them into God’s presence, or more accurately, it was intended to make God’s presence appear before them.
But this is what idolatry does - It ultimately distracts us from a true relationship with God. It’s an exciting spectacle that distracts us from the reality of the true God who is always present, who is always near us, who will never leave us nor forsake us.
The thing is that we can all recognize very easily that God is not a golden calf. That image has nothing to do with God’s presence, even if they thought they were worshiping the true God.
But God isn’t a lot of other things that we sometimes use to try to connect with His presence.
For instance, God isn’t a certain worship song or a certain worship band or a certain style of worship or a certain volume of worship, but sometimes we act like God is only present when the worship is to our liking.
When we think that way, we make worship an idol.
And God isn’t necessarily in our flag waving or our shouting or even our praying in tongues. Those things CAN BE ways to connect with God, but if we start acting as though we MUST do those things in order to feel God’s presence, we turn those forms of worship into idols.
But isn’t speaking in tongues and prophesying good?
Well yes, it certainly can be, but as the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1st Corinthians 13:1-2
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
What are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals made of?
Metal, just like a golden calf!
Tongues, prophesy, and any other act or gesture that is separated from love is nothing but an idol, because it causes us to miss the true presence and image of God.
And what is the true image of God? We were told back in Genesis 1:26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’
Where do you go to find God’s true image? Where do you go to find God’s true presence? Where do you go to know that God is still with you? You don’t have to go anywhere. Turn to your neighbor. Turn towards any other human being. That’s how close the image of God is.
And as John told us in 1 John 4:20
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
Here’s my suggestion as to how to tell whether your favorite form of worship is genuine or if it has become an idol:
Does it make you love other people more?
It’s that simple. Because if you come away from some supposed time spent with God and you can’t get along with your brothers and sisters in Christ, then you weren’t truly worshipping god – you were worshipping your worship time. And that thing you were doing has become an idol in your life.
Let me close out this message with this wonderful quote that sums it all up very clearly:
“True worship is a life-long education in how to dwell with God and our neighbors at every moment of your life. True worship isn’t an enthusiastic moment of escape; instead, true worship teaches us how to be present, truly present, in a world held in together only by God’s grace. True worship is a slow, patient path of discovery where we come to see people, even difficult people, as the image of God’s beautiful presence.”
Priests of the Lord (Exodus 30)
As priests of the Lord, we are called to meet with God daily and offer him prayers. We are not to pray to try to get God to move on our behalf, rather, we are to listen and then pray as God instructs.
Priests are called to be a bridge between God and man. God will bring people and problems to our mind that we are to stand in atonement so mercy can be given.
As a community of believers, those of age are to offer contributions to the work of the Lord. We can no longer just think of ourselves and our own needs, we are part of a global body, each person's need is our personal need. We should never just shut someone out because they ask for help, we should always seek the Father how He would have us respond.
God desires to use us as His Tent of Meeting, so the world can encounter God. To do this we must assure daily that we have confessed our sins so that we are cleansed and consecrated as vessels of God. Taking the time to be consumed in the presence of the Anointed One so that His anointing flows through us in all we say and do. Those who are with God have His sweet holy aroma manifesting from their pores.
Work & Rest (Exodus 31)
We are the Father's chosen vessels, no matter our job, we are to be filled with His Spirit, so that we walk in great wisdom, ability, and expertise. We are called to be master Craftsmen, anointed by God to bring glory to His name in all we say and do. We are working with God in the restoration and redemption of all things.
The mindset that the holy is only what takes place within the four walls of a church building is an old covenant mentality. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." Jesus in the parable of talents says "occupy until I come." Our occupation is our ministry!!!!
So ask the Father each day to anoint you as you go to work and watch and see the wonders He does in and through you.
The 2nd half of Exodus 31 deals with the Sabbath, so we go from work to rest. We need to have the balance of rest or our work will suffer. The Sabbath as Jesus said was made for man. Rest is something we need to receive to have the refreshing necessary to remain strong both spiritually and physically. It is a reminder that God is our source in order to do all things well.
Sabbath is a commandment given by God, the day is up to us, but if we don't follow this command we give the enemy a foothold. No man is above the natural order of the bodies need to be recharged. The Sabbath in the new covenant means perpetual resting in Christ, trusting in the Lord at all times, but we also need a full day of relaxation, where we rest the body and feed our spirit.