In our readings for today, we see a pattern arise. God is faithful and we are unfaithful. Over and over throughout the Scriptures we see it. In Moses’ day, the people would not turn loose of the gods of Egypt. In Jesus’ day, the people wanted to hang on to the Old Covenant and dismiss the New. In our day, have things changed much? What should we do? Read on…
Read Exodus 32:7-14 – Turn Your Head and…Calf!
All Moses did was turn his head away and…voila…the people had fashioned a golden calf to worship! How did it comes to this?
After God had delivered Israel from Egypt, the people proceeded to Mount Sinai. They had witnessed God’s mighty hand move decisively as He had delivered them from Pharaoh. After ten plagues, culminating in the devastation to Egypt and her first born by the death angel, the pillar of fire, the parting of the Red Sea, manna and water from the rock, now they have arrived at Sinai. Through Moses, God has instituted a covenant relationship with the Children of Israel. Moses was called by God to come back up the mountain to receive further instructions.
While he is gone, Israel proves to be utterly unfaithful. Doubting that Moses will ever return from the mountain, they fashion a golden calf believing it will lead them on the remainder of their journey. Israel fell down before the god of Egypt and worshiped it.
Meanwhile up on he mountain and in great anger, God recounts Israel’s actions to Moses. It’s interesting that God blames Moses for bringing them out of Egypt! He says, “The people you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” God shares the details of the evil debauchery that is transpiring below. He details how Israel made the idol, sacrificed to it, and claimed that the idol had brought them out of Egypt. Clearly, they had left Egypt, but Egypt had not left them! God was furious and wanted to destroy these unfaithful reprobates! He would make a great nation out of Moses!
Moses appeals to God to spare his people. After all, what would the Egyptians think if God brings the people out of Egypt only to kill them in the desert. Then, Moses appeals to God’s covenant promises given to the Patriarchs so many centuries earlier. God relented from destroying Israel. Moses proved to be an effective mediator for his people. In verses 30-32, Moses offers himself to God as an atoning sacrifice for his people. One day, a deliverer would offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sake of His covenant family. But, God did not take Moses up on his offer.
The tragedy of this story is that they had seen the signs – the miracles – the demonstrations of God’s power. Yet, despite the new direction God had called them to take, the people denied God and wanted to rely on the ways of the past. Surely a great lesson would be learned from this. Read on…
Read Psalm 106:19-23 – It Was a Horeb Bull Decision
Our Psalm reading is a recounting of the story above, and the sinfulness of Israel.
Read John 5:31-47 – I’ll Be a Witness for My Lord!
Again, as Mark Twain was purported to have said, “History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme!” What happened to Moses is happening to Jesus. The Children of Israel had seen so many expressions of God’s power. Yet, they turned back to their old ways of worship and reject Moses and God. Now, the Jews of Jesus day believe Moses, but reject Jesus. 2 Corinthians 13:1 states, “Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Jesus begins to call witnesses to support Him.
John the Baptist had testified about Jesus. Jesus has a greater testimony than John! Yet, the people celebrated John and reject Jesus. Jesus goes on to say that His works give testimony to His identity. Yet, the people reject Jesus. Not only does John testify and Jesus works testify, but the Father testifies that Jesus is the Promised One – the Messiah – the Deliverer. But, once again, the people reject Jesus because they do not listen to the voice of God. Jesus goes so far as to say that they have searched the Scriptures thinking that they will save them – but they have done so in vain. Why? Because they have not read the Scriptures looking for Jesus, for the Scriptures testify about Jesus. Frankly, they don’t see Jesus in the Scriptures because they don’t want Jesus and the eternal life that He is offering.
Jesus takes the Jewish people to task, claiming that they are more interested in pleasing each other than pleasing God. They will accept one another but they won’t accept the one God has sent to them. In the final analysis, it won’t be Jesus who judges them, it will be Moses. Despite their stated allegiance to Moses and rejection of Jesus, it was Moses that also gave testimony to Jesus!
Who can read the Exodus account and not see Jesus? The Passover Lamb is an excellent example. A perfect male lamb had to be chosen. It had to dwell with the family. Then it had to be sacrificed, the blood applied, and it had to be eaten. Jesus was the only sinless human. Jesus, the Word made flesh, came to dwell among us. He was sacrificed, His blood applied, and we are told by Paul, that, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.” Or, what about the passing through the red sea? Who could miss the imagery of baptism? What a vivid demonstration of death to the old life in Egypt and coming through the waters to live a new life? Or, what about the manna in the wilderness – miraculous bread from heaven? Jesus said, “I am the true bread come down from heaven. I am the Bread of Life.” Or, what about Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18 when Moses and God predict God will raise up a prophet like Moses. Moses says that when this new and greater prophet comes the people should, “listen to him.” In the Transfiguration, Jesus talks to Moses about the “Exodus” He will lead from Jerusalem. And, the voice of God is heard saying, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him!” God has provided the deliverance and the deliverer, yet the people look back to the old comfortable ways of worship and reject the One who is worthy of worship.
As we travel the Pathway to the Passion, may we avoid the temptation to be satisfied with the ways of our old nature when Jesus calls us to the New and everlasting way. In Moses’ day, Israel wanted to return to Egypt. In Jesus’ day, the Jews wanted to cling to the Old Covenant. What is it that entices us to return to the old ways? Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). God has provided the deliverance and the deliverer. May we accept Him. May we embrace Him. May we worship Him. May we follow Him wherever He leads! As the old hymn says, “No turning back.”