Monday, April 15, 2019
Friday, we left Moses in Exodus 19 preparing to tell the people of Israel about their incredible deliverance from Egypt and that it was God who bore them up on eagles’ wings and carried them to Himself. When they heard this, the people made a promise to Moses that they would obey everything God would tell them to do. Moses went up on the mountain to find out the details of how God wanted the people to live in relationship with Him. The people all witnessed the incredible and awesome presence of God on the mountain, and watched as Moses entered God’s presence. But would they persist in their faith?
Exodus 32:1-4 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
That’s NOT the answer we were hoping for. Moses has been gone for forty days and during that time the glory of God was visible on the mountain to all the people. But the thrill and excitement of the initial event had worn off. The people were tired of sitting still, and they needed tangible results to their faith. Because they weren’t moving forward and were seeing no supernatural activity of personal benefit, they decided to look elsewhere for leadership. Imagine that – in full view of God’s glorious presence like a consuming fire on top of the mountain, they declared their distrust in the ability of God to lead them. Instead they declared that their real God was an inanimate calf cast out of gold. Apis, the Egyptian bull-god, had kept them safe in Egypt, and maybe now this god would guide them to safety once again.
Why is it that we so quickly return to our sinful bondages? I see from the example of the Israelites a couple of reasons.
- Their faith was still focused on the activity of God and not on the nature of God. They could see the splendor of His nature in front of them, but because there was no activity they looked for another object of faith to generate action. This is a hard lesson for us to learn. Suffice it to say that even when the activity around us seems to be moving against us, God is still carrying us to Himself on the wings of eagles.
- They did not persist in their faith because they were not experiencing any movement. How often are we tempted to rush out of the still moments of God’s timeline and force movement? Probably often. None of us enjoys the times when God seems inactive. We pray for answers and none seem to come. We want an immediate answer of yes or a no but are unwilling to accept the answer of wait. Wait is a weight we don’t like to bear. “Maybe God needs our help to motivate some activity,” we say. Do we realize the serious implications of such a statement? If we believe that God needs our help in any way, then we cannot believe that He is truly God, and we place ourselves above Him. It is no wonder that the Lord’s anger burned against the people because of their impudence.
Tomorrow we will look at the rest of this story, but for today I leave you with this thought. Do not fight the quiet times of God’s apparent inactivity. His glory can still be seen all around you. His promises are still valid and will not fail. He promised the Israelites in Exodus 19:5-6 that they would be His treasured possession. He has affirmed that promise to us as well in 1 Peter 2:9 which says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
God does not need our help to keep the plan moving: it is moving just fine and according to His timeline. So, in those quiet times of inactivity, do what God told the people of Israel to do – wait, and live in consecrated, holy expectation of God’s work becoming visible. Be persistent to live by faith according to what you now know, and God will give you more understanding as He determines you need it.