Archive for September 2nd, 2011

Exodus 32

Exodus 32 is a sad chapter that captures the story of just how pathetic we can be as humans.  Moses is up on the mountain with God, and while he is gone, the people get restless.  They come to Aaron and ask him to “make us gods….do not know what has become of him”.  They are impatient and want action.  Aaron goes along with the plan and asks them to give their gold and he creates a golden calf and built an altar before it.  So they are now worshiping this idol and sacrificing to it.  This happens not all that long after they are brought out of Egypt, led through the Red Sea, have a cloud leading them by day and a fire by night.  How can they possibly forget that God is there?

Of course God knows what is happening.  He tells Moses “your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them”.  I love how this goes – ‘your people’.  It is no longer ‘my people’ – Moses this is your problem.  And the problem – disobedience.  Hmmm – that is likely one we may be called out on too.  God tells Moses “they have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them”.  This is a very big deal.  When we disobey God, it is not just a simple little problem.  It creates a division between us and Him.  There is a problem God says it this way: “They are a stiff-necked people….wrath may burn hot against them”.  Bad things happen when we are disobedient to God. There is a price for disobedience.

But Moses implored the Lord….Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people…. Remember”.  Here we see a quality of a leader that is so important.  Moses practices the power of intercession.  He stands between God and the people and asks for mercy and grace.  And he does it on God’s terms as he asks Him to remember.  God often used that word with the people – now Moses uses it with God.  And it works as God does send Moses down the mountain to address the issue.  When Moses arrives he can’t believe his eyes.  “Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it”.  Moses can’t believe His eyes.  The people have lost it completely and his brother had led the charge.

Moses gets all over Aaron and asks why this has happened.  And as you might expect, Aaron doesn’t take responsibility, he blames the people.  “You know the people, that they are set on evil….they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf”.  The old ‘they made me do it’ excuse.  We are so quick to blame others rather than take responsibility for our choices and actions.  The outcome is not pretty.  Moses calls the people and asks who is ‘all in’ for God.  The priests respond and Moses instructs them to kill off those who are not – “three thousand men of the people fell”.  Big consequences come to those who do not walk in obedience.  Moses says “You have sinned a great sin….perhaps I can make atonement for your sin”. There is always a cost for sin.  So Moses goes and intercedes on their behalf again.  He puts himself between the people and God in an even more bold way.  “But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written”.  God again listens to Moses plea and sends him off to lead with “now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you”  It is not without punishment – God cannot be mocked – so He tells Moses “I will visit their sin upon them…. the Lord sent a plague”.  But they were not wiped out as God might have done.  Moses stood in the gap – he put himself in their place – and sought God’s mercy.  Intercession is a powerful thing for leaders to learn.

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