Sunday July 8th
I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but the Nike company was founded by a guy. That explains why its tagline says "Just do it!"
Because if "Nike" had been founded by a Woman, its tagline would have been:
"Just do it...if you want to...
I don't want to force you...
It's your life...
You don't listen to me anyway…
Just Do Whatever You Want...”
All throughout the book of Exodus, God has been giving instructions to the people of Israel through Moses regarding the construction of the Tabernacle, along with its equipment and the priest’s clothing. Now it’s time for them to “Just do it!”
So we see this in Exodus 36:1
“Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”
God has given His people the skills and God has given them the instructions. Now they are told to “perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”
Another way of putting it would be - you know what to do…now…just do it! And they do, as we see in verse 2-7
Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it. 3 They received from Moses all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. 4 And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, 5 and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” 6 So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. 7 For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.
That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it!
The people were bringing so much gold and silver to donate for the construction of the tabernacle that the workmen asked Moses to tell the people to stop giving!
I’m hoping that the same thing will happen to our building fund for the new Welcome Center – but we haven’t reached that point yet – so please feel free to keep on giving! We will let you know when you’re giving too much!
I want you to think about what is happening here in relation to something that happened back in chapter 32:
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.” 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.”
Do you remember that episode? The Golden Calf!
The thing I want to point out is that in both instances the people donated generously, but one time it was for an ungodly purpose and the other time it was for a Godly purpose. What does that tell us?
We each have a certain amount of resources that we’ve been given. It’s really up to us whether we’re going to devote those resources towards the building of the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of our own little world.
Every single dollar that you and I spend carries with it an indication of what is important to us. It’s been said that the most accurate barometer of your spiritual state is your checkbook.
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 6:21
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
And even though the people of Israel were often disobedient towards God throughout their history, in this instance they were faithful, at least in their giving.
And the next few chapters also show the people doing exactly what God had asked them to do.
In Exodus 37 the Ark of the Covenant and the furnishings for the tabernacle, such as the lampstands and the table for the bread, were made exactly as God had instructed.
In Exodus 38 the curtains and the altar for the tabernacle were constructed exactly as God had instructed.
And then in verses 24-31 we see an accounting of the total cost of all of this work:
24 All the gold that was used for the work, in all the work of the sanctuary, even the gold of the wave offering, was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. 25 The silver of those of the congregation who were numbered was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary; 26 a beka a head (that is, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for each one who passed over to those who were numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men. 27 The hundred talents of silver were for casting the sockets of the sanctuary and the sockets of the veil; one hundred sockets for the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.28 Of the 1,775 shekels, he made hooks for the pillars and overlaid their tops and made bands for them. 29 The bronze of the wave offering was 70 talents and 2,400 shekels. 30 With it he made the sockets to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and the bronze altar and its bronze grating, and all the utensils of the altar, 31 and the sockets of the court all around and the sockets of the gate of the court, and all the pegs of the tabernacle and all the pegs of the court all around.
Okay, so let’s do the math so that we can get a sense of this in terms of today’s dollars.
Based on the known ratio of three thousand shekels to one talent, and the fact that each talent weighed roughly 75 pounds, we can estimate that a total of 2193 pounds of gold, 7544 pounds of silver, and 5310 pounds of copper were donated by the people towards the work of building the tabernacle.
In today’s money, that gold would be worth about 58 million dollars and that amount of silver would be worth another 4 million dollars!
Just to show how accurate these figures are, the amount of silver, which is 301,175 shekels, is linked to the head count of the Israelites: half a shekel was given by every male over the age of twenty (603,550 men according to Numbers 1:46)
So those two chapters, 37 and 38, take care of the building and the furnishing of the tabernacle, and then in Exodus 39, the garments for all of the priests are now made according to the instructions that were given back in chapters 28-29.
And then finally chapter 39 closes out the whole building process, starting in verse 32, with these words:
32 Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was completed; and the sons of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did.
Notice that there was nothing lacking, nothing unfinished!
“all the work of the tabernacle…was completed”
“the sons of Israel did…all that the Lord had commanded”
In verses 33 through 41 there is a description of what that ALL included:
33 They brought the tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings: its clasps, its boards, its bars, and its pillars and its sockets; 34 and the covering of rams’ skins dyed red, and the covering of porpoise skins, and the screening veil; 35 the ark of the testimony and its poles and the mercy seat; 36 the table, all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 37 the pure gold lampstand, with its arrangement of lamps and all its utensils, and the oil for the light; 38 and the gold altar, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the veil for the doorway of the tent; 39 the bronze altar and its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils, the laver and its stand; 40 the hangings for the court, its pillars and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court, its cords and its pegs and all the equipment for the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of meeting; 41 the woven garments for ministering in the holy place and the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.
So the ALL included the tent and the furniture and the garments for the priests, everything that had been discussed since the beginning of chapter 25.
And then the last two verses of the chapter sum it up this way:
42 So the sons of Israel did all the work according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses. 43 And Moses examined all the work and behold, they had done it; just as the Lord had commanded, this they had done. So Moses blessed them.
I think there may be no more beautiful words ever spoken that these:
“they had done it; just as the Lord had commanded, this they had done.”
The Lord commanded it – so they did it!
Isn’t that what it means to say that He is the Lord?
That’s why Jesus asks in Luke 6:46
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
I think that one of the things we need to do is understand the fullness of the meaning of the word “lord”.
Here is a commonly accepted biblical definition:
A name for God that means He has authority, or that He is our 'master'.
There’s nothing wrong with that definition. It’s very accurate. But the word lord actually means more than that.
Look at this additional definition:
A special name for God that his people use, knowing that He will do what he has promised them. That is what this name means.
Do you see how this more complete definition helps us to relate more intimately with God?
If my only way of seeing Him as my “lord” is that He’s my master and I must obey Him, then I may find that what He wants me to do and what I want to do are in opposition to one another. It’s easy to think that’s what Jesus was saying when He asked:
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
So, maybe Jesus is saying, “I thought I was your boss. Why aren’t you obeying me?”
But if we think of the other definition, that “He will do what he has promised”, then maybe what Jesus is asking is more like:
“When I tell you to do something, don’t you trust me?”
Because when my desires are leading me in a different direction from where God is telling me to go…
When my plans are different from God’s plans…
Then what I’m really saying isn’t just “I don’t want to do what my Boss is telling me to do”. We might as well add the full truth, which is “I don’t trust my Boss to take care of me.”
When the people of Israel built the tabernacle exactly as God had instructed them – When they made all of the furnishing and the priest’s garments exactly in the way that God had told them – They were proclaiming that “God knows what He is doing, and we trust Him to take care of us completely as long as we follow His instructions closely.”
Ultimately that what we have to decide for ourselves, over and over again, in each and every circumstance and challenge that we face.
Is Jesus really my Lord? Not just as a Boss who tells me what to do, but as a shepherd who watches over me and takes care of my every need.
How I answer that question is a reflection of how much I trust Him.
And there is no one who is more worthy of my trust!
Here in Exodus 35, the instructions that were supposed to be established previously, were now being taught, for a delay had occurred due to rebellion. God will keep His children in a place of punishment until restitution takes place. We must be right before God and the tribe of believers He has placed around before we can expect to move forward.
Moses calls together the whole community to share with them the Lord's commands. In western society we enjoy the freedom of individual choice, we are hardly forced to do anything. People from other countries long for this type of freedom and are willing to even die trying to cross over America's borders. Yet, regarding the Kingdom of God, it can be rather challenging. Believers come and go as they choose when they feel like it, which makes leading people difficult. How can we move ahead if due to inconsistency people have hardly a clue regarding God's direction?
God, yes, moves in us individually but yet we are connected to a corporate body, so our individual calling is tied into the community of believers where He has established us. Believers need to come together weekly to be in-tuned with God's will. It should not be a choice but a mandatory obligation. Not out of law but out of the desire to be supplied with the necessary grace to succeed in life.
The first instructions which are repeated throughout the old covenant, regard the Sabbath. Despite the Fall, God made a temporary way for people to commune with Him. Sin isn't so much the act it is the desire to live life separately from God. Sabbath is a time to do no work and to focus on one's need for God being present in their life.
In the New Covenant, in Hebrews 4, we see that we now have stepped into the greater promise of rest which is perpetual, continual, evermore. We can rest in the Lord as we work which lightens the load and removes the burden.
Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together weekly or harden our heart as the children of Israel did regarding entering the Sabbath rest that is now available through Jesus Christ, daily.
The Lord commanded the children of Israel in Exodus 35:4-5 to give an offering but He said "only those with generous hearts." We should not give to God out of a heart of regret.
Romans 12:1 says "to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices.....which is our reasonable service considering all He has done." God will not bless people no matter what they give if their heart is ungrateful. It is all about the heart! Leaders should not manipulate people to give and those giving should not do so unless they have joy in doing it.
Those who have made Jesus, Lord are living sacrifices, their talent, treasure, and time is no longer their own. If giving is a problem then you got to ask yourself, have you really made Jesus, Lord?
The rest of Exodus 35 deals with talent. When we give our talent to the Lord, He gives in return great wisdom, ability, and expertise. We should never fear to give to God because the return is so much greater than what is given. What we have will never be enough but those who give to God never lack.
Our talent will never be good enough, but through God, it will be able to accomplish above and beyond what any human can do.
When we give God our time what could possibly never get done, just somehow, someway, through God's hands, time stands still, and His will is fulfilled.
Our focus should not be on what we lose when we surrender but in what we gain. When we realize that in Him alone do we live and have our being (Acts 17:28), we have truly stepped into the abundant life that Christ has promised.
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.
Why Give? (Exodus 25:1-9)
We have all given something to someone out of feeling obligated or received something from someone that we know they didn’t give it from their heart.
When it comes to giving to God if it isn’t from the heart He does not accept it. We can give financially, volunteer our time, share our abilities, at our local church but God will not honor us if we have impure motives.
The bible says to give cheerfully if we cannot do that we might as well not give at all. It is wrong for Preachers to try to manipulate people to give, for that money will not be blessed anyway.
Finances and service are required for advancing God’s Kingdom but yet having the right heart must be at the core. God does not need our treasure, talent or time, but He desires our heart. What we do with these elements reveal the condition of the heart.
Here in Exodus 25, The Lord told Moses to tell the people of Israel to bring their sacred offerings and to accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. These offerings as it says in verse eight for the purpose of building the Lord a holy sanctuary.
An acceptable offering is one that has no expectation in return. It is a free will offering! I am not giving in order to get, I give because I put my trust not in money but in God and I am grateful for all He is and has done.
Patterned In The Image of God (Exodus 25:10-40)
We are the temple of God our lives are the offering. Our talent, treasure, and time make up who we are and that is what we promised to give when we made Jesus Lord of our lives. Those who truly live surrendered lives are those in whom God inhabits.
The building description of the ark of the covenant, table, and lamp stand, have one main ingredient in common, GOLD.
Gold represents Glory! The physical structure of the temple in the Old Testament has the revelation for us to understand the spiritual structure of the temple in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 3:16 says that don’t you know you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in your midst?
As temples of God, we are called to be filled with His glory. Like gold, we have been mined out of the dirt and purified by fire and now shine brightly with the presence of the living God.
We who walk in covenant relationship with God experience the ark of His presence. He meets and talks with us daily.
2 Cor. 6:16-18, “What agreement can exist between the temple of the living God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And: I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
We see here we must live a separate life, unclean things and idolatry must be done away with if God’s glory is going to fill our lives. Just as the bread of the presence was to remain on the table at all times, God wants to be Lord of our lives at all times. Too many Christian live double lives, in and out, not consistent. It is time to renounce all darkness and live continually in the light. To do this as it says in verse 40 we must be sure that everything in our life is according to the pattern God has revealed in scripture.
Does all aspects of your life line up with the Word of God? This is the defining factor of how much of His Glory exceeds from your being.
Tabernacle of God (Exodus 26)
Here in Exodus 26, we see the blueprint for the creation of the Tabernacle. In the New Covenant, the Temple of God is made up of human flesh, patterned like the Old Testament Tabernacle after the Word of God, as living epistles. The Tabernacle had so many specific dimensions and we are to have every part of our life formed into the image of God.
The difficulty with this is that we must destroy that which is not a reflection of Him. Every traditional and cultural frame that does not line up with the Word of God removed. Every hurt and pain surrendered so that healing and deliverance can follow. Then and only then can we carry the full weight of God's Glory!
Removing Darkness (Exodus 27:20-21)
God, the Father tells Moses to command the people of Israel in Exodus 27:20-22 to bring pure oil of pressed olives to keep the lamps in the tabernacle burning continually.
Jesus speaks in Matthew 5:14-16 that His disciples are the light of the world, a city on the hill that cannot be hidden.....so let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
In the Old Testament, the glory of God-centered around a building called the Tabernacle. In the New Testament, those who abide in Christ are the Tabernacle, He is the oil within us that allows us to shine with the glory of God.
Light is used to remove darkness, that is our call, not to escape from the world, but to go into it, countering evil with good, so that the Kingdom of light destroys the kingdom of darkness.
If your light is going dim, humble yourself before God and let the Holy Spirit recharge you, so you can shine brightly once again.
Sunday May 13th
Little Johnny came home from church all excited, and his mother asked him what he had learned in Sunday school.
"Well Mom”, Johnny said, “our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt."
“Oh, that sounds interesting”, his Mom said.
Johnny nodded his head and continued, "And when they got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge over the water and all the people walked across safely. Then, he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. And they sent jet bombers to blow up the bridge and drown the Egyptians, but all the Israelites were saved".
His mother crossed her arms and asked, "Now, Johnny, is that really what your teacher taught you?"
Little Johnny looked down at the ground and shook his head. He knew that you should always tell the truth to your mother. Then he said,
"Well, no Mom, but if I told you the story the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"
I think we can all agree that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt was a powerful supernatural event. But God was just getting started with the journey that He was taking them on. And even more supernatural event were about to unfold here in Chapter 24:
Then He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance. 2 Moses alone, however, shall come near to the Lord, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.”
Just like with the 12 apostles, there was an inner circle who went with Moses, and it included Moses’ brother Aaron, Aarons sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders. We are going to discuss them more in a little bit but let’s see what unfolded next:
3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” 4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
So twice within these six verses, the people proclaim - “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
And then Moses confirms their promise by them with “the blood of the covenant”, and that blood puts the covenant into effect.
If we look at Hebrews 9:19–22 we see this:
“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
The blood signified a cleansing from sin so that the people could enter the covenant, and it reminded them that the penalty for breaking the covenant was death. Jesus proclaimed the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the establishment of a New Covenant at the Last Supper when He said: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28)
So before Laurie takes us through the remainder of this chapter I want to take us back to that list of names of those who were in Moses’ inner circle. Because you may remember two of those names from our study of Leviticus.
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
So these two sons of Aaron, members of Moses’ inner circle, broke the covenant that they had sworn to uphold, and they lost their lives. The question that we need to ask is twofold. First, how did they let that happen? And second how could they have avoided it? The answer is found in the glory! Here’s what happened next:
9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.
12 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14 But to the elders he said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them.” 15 Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. 17 And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. 18 Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like a sapphire stone in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.
2 Corinthians 3:3
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation
Americans grow up in a culture that promotes independence which makes it tough to understand how to operate dependent on the body of Christ. If we are going to move with God as His body, we must learn to walk together with the other parts, or there will not be a move of God.
Exodus 23:1-13; deals with justice. We are to consider others more than we consider ourselves. Every decision we make we need to think it through making sure it is what is best for each person that it affects. The majority of the world is swayed by what is most popular. Children of God are only moved by what is just and right, no matter what persecution may follow.
Passion for God equals compassion for humanity, which produces empathy. Jesus, tempted in all ways, can relate to all people. Those who walk with God identify with the hurt, pain, loss, and anger of others. They don't pass by or cause greater oppression but do whatever it is in their means to help. Knowing that if it wasn't for the grace of God they as well would be in a similar situation.
After dealing with how to walk in harmony with each other, God commands Moses that three Festivals must be celebrated each year; the feast of unleavened bread, harvest, and final harvest.
It is hard to celebrate with people unless you get along with them. When people enjoy each other they look for any opportunity to come together and have a good time. God wants His people celebrating it is a way to bring glory to God for all He has done. The world longs for a good time, they love to be able to forget their worries and just let loose. Those who walk with God have joy, unspeakable, and running over. We don't need a chemical substance to feel good. Our drink is living water, and it is a spiritual well deep within our soul.
When I was a college student, I partied just about every night, I needed alcohol in order to get out of my shell. I had a lot of good times but I had a lot of regretful moments as well. I had a girlfriend who invited me to a gathering of young adults at a theatre when I got there it was packed with people singing about Jesus. They seemed so happy and it caused me to wonder because of my view of Christians as they were boring and serious, obsessed with the end of the world. I went to Denny's afterward with a bunch of them and they stayed up all night, laughing, and enjoying themselves yet without any chemical substances. This blew me away and was a serious seed planted in my heart that eventually led me to know the Lord for myself.
When church gatherings are full of people who love life and love each other, celebrating the goodness of God, it will be very attractive. We will no longer have to pull and push our family and friends to come to church it will be a wanted destination. People want to get free of their cares, they want to feel loved and accepted. We as leaders need to create a celebratory environment and the church will grow.
It is a scary world; mass shootings, terrorist attacks, nuclear threats, police brutality, causing many people to be crippled by fear. The good news is there is a safe place called the presence of the Lord.
The Lord provides protection to those who journey with Him. Someone may say if this is true then why do bad things sometimes happen to Godly people? Jesus did say that those who follow Him will experience suffering. There is certain trouble that cannot be avoided for it goes along with the Lord’s plans. Example of this is when Paul was shipwrecked and bitten by a deadly snake for in him not dying people opened their hearts to God. Unnecessary pain can be avoided if we as it says in Exodus 23:21, “pay close attention to Him, and obey His instructions.” This is only possible if we follow Proverbs 3:5 “acknowledge God in all your ways and He will direct your path.”
We cannot take our life for granted, Satan is waiting for an opportunity to devour us. We must proceed cautiously not haphazardly thinking God will just rescue us anytime we get ourselves in trouble. When we are on God’s right path, His angels go before us and behind us, opposing our enemies, destroying anything in the way of us fulfilling His will. The enemy will try to distract us and get our eyes off of God by tempting us in his evil ways but as we choose to serve the Lord and not walk double minded He will bless us with all we need and protect us from unnecessary harm.
As our faith increases our enemies will fear us and scatter as we go forth to possess God’s promises. The Lord will enlarge our boundaries and expand our influence as we remain completely surrendered to His will.