Archive for January, 2011


Israel’s Deceit

When we read of the incident of the Israelites and the golden calf, there is so much wickedness on display.

First, it’s breathtaking how quickly the Israelites forgot about the Lord who delivered them out of Egypt only weeks before.  Even Aaron, Moses’ brother, is quick to abandon God.

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, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”Exodus 32:2-4

The last sentence is incredible.  The Israelites are not only abandoning God, but they are giving credit for their deliverance to a golden object – an idol!  Didn’t they remember the pillar of fire, and the parting of the Red Sea?  Are they so callous and forgetful that they have no recollection of God, but would give credit to an idol made out of the earrings they were wearing the night before?  God save our nation from such a fate.



As God instructs the Israelites about the tabernacle and it’s articles, we read

“Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide. Make a horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar are of one piece, and overlay the altar with bronze.  Make all its utensils of bronze—its pots to remove the ashes, and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans.  Make a grating for it, a bronze network, and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network.  Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar.  Make poles of acacia wood for the altar and overlay them with bronze.  The poles are to be inserted into the rings so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried.  Make the altar hollow, out of boards. It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.Exodus 30:1-8

God gives several chapters of very detailed instructions in this area of the Bible.  What does this tell us about God’s character?

I think it tells us that God likes order, and he likes things that work.  God made the universe to be perfect originally, but sin stands in the way of that – for the moment.  I believe that God is honored when we build things, and make things better – it is a reminder of His perfect plan.  And good news – things will be prefect again one day in heaven.

In Exodus 30-1-11, God mentions two men – Bezalel and Oholiab – and He calls then craftsmen.  It seems that God is interested in men who display the trait of craftsmanship, and who can make things according to His designs.  And this is still true today – when we create, God is honored when we do a good job and pay attention to designs and specifications.  If this were not true of God, would He have devoted whole chapters in the Bible to this level of detail?


What Will God Do For Us?

As God prepares Israel to be sent off after receiving His Law at Mount Sinai, we read these words:

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.  Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.  If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.  My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out.  Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.  Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,  and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.“I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.  I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.  But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you.  Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.  Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”Exodus 23:20-33

This is simply an amazing passage.  Look at all of the things that God will do for His people:

  • He will guard them
  • He will lead and direct them
  • He will fight for them
  • He will bless their food and water
  • He will heal sickness
  • He will prevent miscarriages
  • He will bless families with children
  • He will grant a full lifespan (see Genesis 6:3 – up to 120 years)
  • He will confuse their enemies
  • He will wisely set the right timeline for how their victories will play out

This is a very detailed and specific list.  To be one of God’s chosen people is a blessed thing.

Do we believe that God will do these things for His people today?


God Desires Truth

Exodus 23:2-3 says,

‘“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,  and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.’

I think this is a very interesting passage.  It seems that God wants us to be just in whatever we do – we should not give in to peer pressure, either in supporting the powerful, or in supporting the weak.  Our culture today clearly leans toward favoring the oppressed in some situations, and the oppressors in others.  Just look at our current legal system in America, and tell me if you think it is always fair, impartial, and consistent to the law.

But God is interested in truth.  I find this to be very desirable, because everything is measured against one standard – not something which varies from day to day.  He is the perfect umpire – and instant replay is not necessary.


Explain This?

Sometimes, I come across a verse in the Bible for which I have no explanation.  Here is one:

“If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;  but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.” — Exodus 22:2-3

I cannot explain this one.  Any ideas?  Why did God set up the law to differ depending on the time of day that the theft and fatality occurred?



In Exodus 20:22-23:

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven:  Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.””

Interestingly, what is going on in the Israelite camp while Moses is up on the mountain getting these instructions?

‘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.’ — Exodus 32:1-3

Imagine how they must have felt when Moses first gave them the words of the Second Commandment.  Imagine what Moses must have thought when he came down from the mountain and saw what they had done.


The Whole Earth Belongs To God

Moses prepares to go up to Mt Sinai to receive the ten commandments in Exodus 19:3-6 :

Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:  ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,  you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’

Think about how God established a nation that is set apart – Israel.  BUT…He says that “the whole earth is mine”.  Interesting how we sometimes forget that the whole earth is His – chosen people and those who are not.  Some will live with the Father forever, and some will be eternally separated, but we remember that all were made in the image of God.

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