11.5 Moses 11, Day 5

Take off the ornaments

We have been blessed to have had the opportunity to support and serve an organization in our town that helps bring homeless women and men in off the streets.  Many of these men and women have exhausted every other support option.  They have been to jail.  They have drug addictions.  They are prostitutes.  They have lost hope.

The Christian woman who founded and runs the organization came out of that same environment.  She knows and her ministry is built on the fact that these individuals do not have the strength to get out of their situations on their own.  It is only with the strength of Jesus Christ that their lives can be turned around.  She will take them in, feed them, shelter them, care for them, teach them, help them find work, make them birthday cakes, share life and love and the good news with them.  In return they simply need to accept this gift and submit to follow a few house rules.

One day we were talking with the founder and discussing what rule was the hardest for people to follow.  I was surprised to learn it was the rule about cell phones.  She has a requirement that someone new to the house must give up their cell phone for 60 days and must agree to allow them to erase all the contacts on the phone.  This is the single biggest hurdle.  The reason they require this is her time proven belief that you cannot continue to play in the same playground with the same playmates and think you are going to play a different game of life.  She said that, despite the fact that it breaks her heart each time it happens, they have learned to not bend on this rule.  If someone who needs their help refuses to cut ties with their old life, they fully intend to go back to that old life.

The Israelites didn’t have cell phones, but they had jewelry and ornamentation.  Is jewelry and ornamentation bad?  Are we restricted from wearing earrings?  I don’t think that is what this is trying to say.  Instead, the message was to remove the temptations.  If wearing earrings causes your mind to return to the golden calf, get rid of the earrings.

You may not have a drug dealer on speed dial or a penchant for golden calves, but you may have ongoing repetitive sin in your life.  Are you so foolish to believe that you can expose yourself to the same playground and playmates and not keep doing the same things?  Clear out the ornamentation in your life that pulls you back into the same old things that you regret.  It is OK to let it go, Jesus has way better things in store for you, but He needs you to grab ahold of Him with both hands – not one while you refuse to let go of your old way of life with the other.

 

My Answers

10.
a.
They sought to seek God’s forgiveness for others by offering themselves as an atonement for their sins

b.
Jesus

c.
His was innocent blood, He was God, He gave Himself as a ransom

11.
Self responsibility.  (also that there is punishment for sin and a book of life to be blotted out of)

12.
a.
Before He said the angel would protect them along the way, they angel would wipe out the inhabitants, God’s blessings on their food and water, no sickness, no miscarriage, a full life span,

b.
stiff-necked people

c.
they mourned and took off their ornaments

d.
be humbled in my sin, repent and seek God’s forgiveness.  Make restitution where possible. – Leave the old temptations behind.

11.4 Moses 11, Day 4

3000 die, one doesn’t

Today’s lesson is hard.

Aaron, who had been left in charge, made the golden calf.  Despite what he later tried to claim, it did not just come out of the fire.  Melting gold is not easy, you don’t just do it over an open campfire, it requires a bellows or some type of furnace, but first you have to construct the mold, and even then you have to have a way to get the molten gold into the mold without it solidifying.  So, there was intent and effort and time put into making this idol.  But Aaron appears to suffer no punishment for this sin.

At the same time, Moses calls out to the entire camp “whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And, at God’s command, the Levites strap on their swords and go back and forth through the camp killing those who are still running wild.  3000 die.

In our judgement this may not seem just.

First, we are not the judge.  God is. It is not our place to judge God and we know that He is always just.  We could stop there and accept in faith that God is right.  But, let’s go farther, while keeping the fact that God is just in mind.

Everyone is going to die.  You, me, Moses, Aaron, the Israelites, each of us has a day that this life will end.  God is in charge.  God knows and ordains the day we are born and the day we will die.  To believe otherwise is to believe that God either doesn’t know or doesn’t have control.  It isn’t that God wants us to die.  He wants us to live with him forever, that was His original plan with Adam and Eve, but we chose and continue to choose sin.  This life we have in this body will come to an end.  So, with that understanding, would it make us feel any better if some of the 3000 had died the day before in an oxen accident or died the next week in a battle or simply died of old age in the dessert?  Why do we bristle from the dying on this day as opposed to any other day?

So why this day, then?  They had chosen the golden calf, but they didn’t die that day.  They had seen Moses anger when he burned up the calf and ground it up and forced them to drink it, but they didn’t die that day.  But in spite of all of that, the tablets being broken, the calf being burned, the ashes being ground up, the forced consumption of the burnt up idol, they still ran wild.  Despite all they had seen, and felt, and heard and learned – despite all that they still chose to be wild animals.

The term “stiff-necked” comes from oxen.  When an ox is yoked, the person in control steers and controls the direction of the animal by turning its head, either through the use of a bridle and bit or through the use of an ox-goad (a stick with a pointed end).  A stiff-necked oxen is one who continuously fights the person in control.  It refuses to turn its neck.  It goes where it wants to go and does what it wants to do.  It is a dangerous creature and it can inflict great damage, injury and death on others if it goes wild.  If such a creature, despite the continued efforts and training of its master, continues to disobey, it is put down.

The Levites did not go through the camp maliciously murdering innocent friends and family.  They obediently killed those who insisted on being wild animals in the street.  They killed those who made the choice to become and live as enemies of God and enemies of the Jewish people.  This camp was a battle field and they killed those who elected to terrorize their neighbors, family and friends.

Should we strap on a sword and start killing people in our neighborhoods?  Absolutely not.  That is not what we are commanded to do.  But we, through our military, police and judicial systems, do fight and kill those who have chosen to be enemies both at home and abroad.

But why not Aaron?  Why not any of the other thousands of jews who did not die on this day?  It was not what God ordained.  Our leaders are not perfect.  Many of our leaders, including pastors and religious leaders, have committed great sin in their lives and have led others into sin.  That does not mean that God is restricted from using them as leaders.  God chose Aaron and despite the fact that sacrifices will be made for Aaron’s sin and to ordain him as a priest, he would carry the knowledge of his sin every day.  This had to influence the work he would perform in the tabernacle.  This had to make a difference in his thinking as he made sacrifice after sacrifice for the sins of the people.  When faced with that job, day-in, day-out, it would have been easy for a high priest to think of himself as better than the people.  Could Aaron ever do that again?

This is hard and uncomfortable, but so is life.  Who do you stand with?  Do you yield to the authority of the master, the farmer who cares for you and protects you and wants you to participate in good work, or do you fight and run wild?  In Matthew 11, Jesus asks us to take his yoke, his yoke is easy and the burden is light.

 

My Answers:

8.
a.
They did not receive the 10 commandments crafted by God, they were out of control, laughingstock to their enemies, they were forced to drink the ground up powder of the golden calf

b.
Aaron and the people

c.
I am to be a solid witness not bending at the first temptation

9.
a.
he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “whoever is for the Lord, come to me”, Levites rallied, strap sword go back and forth from one end of camp to the other, killing brother, friend and neighbor – 3000 died

b.
They broke the first 4 commandments, they broke their covenant with God, even after Moses returned, they continued to be wild

c.
set apart, blessed, disciple of God

11.3 Moses 11, Day 3

Gears

When the people of Israel looked at each other they did not see perfect people.  When the looked at themselves, honestly, they knew something was missing.  They could feel it.  A hollowness in their center, a roughness around their edges.

They didn’t like it.  They didn’t like it in themselves and they didn’t like it in others.  They wanted to fill it up and they didn’t particularly care what it was filled with.  Anger, pride, joy, self-justification, food, drink, idols, it didn’t matter.  They wanted smooth edges and an internal feeling of fullness.  Fulfillment.

Are people today any different?  Look around – don’t you see the exact same situation today.  If anything our dedication to our own selfworth and our criticism of others may be at an all time high.

But, what if we have it all wrong?  What if that emptiness we feel was there for a specific purpose?  What if we were created to be gears?  What if we are supposed to fit into something bigger?  What if that roughness of around our edges was there not for ourselves, but to connect with others who also have rough edges.  What if we are not a problem to be fixed, but a part of an amazing grand design?  What if instead of focusing on ourselves, we turned our focus to the source of power that can turn our world around and around?

When Moses came down and saw the sin, he took the golden calf, burned it ground it up and made all the people of Israel drink it.  Did it bring them fulfillment?  Did it fill up that hole in the center of their soul? No, it made them sick.

 

My Answers:

6.
a.
16. the work of God, the writing of God

b.
They had broken the law (literally), they were not deserving of the gift of the law

7.
a.
He was left in charge, he had been appointed, he knew better – history before Egypt and eye witness to every miracle and plague

b.
blamed the people (prone to evil), they told him, they didn’t know where Moses was, he stuck the gold in the fire and out popped the calf

c.
same – blaming circumstances and others rather than owning my sin

11.2 Moses 11, Day 2

Idle spirits, idol worship

Waiting is hard.  It is one of those things that seems like it should be easy.  You aren’t doing stressful work.  You aren’t fighting battles.  You aren’t doing anything.  You are waiting.

But, we grow impatient.  We don’t like to wait.  We want to do something now.  We want immediate satisfaction and gratification.  We don’t know what we want, but we want something.

While Moses was communing with God, the people were waiting.  Clearly they knew that escaping Egypt and arriving at the base of this mountain was not the end-all be-all objective.  But they didn’t have a leader to take them further.  Aaron was not their leader, he was filling in as a substitute – more like a baby-sitter.  So they grew impatient. They were idle and instead of focusing on what was ahead and preparing for it, they focused on themselves and their wants and needs.

They wanted fulfillment.  They wanted gods that would move it along.  They wanted to go now.

They should have been drilling and practicing.  They should have been sharpening their weapons and honing their skills.  They should have been fasting and praying.  They should have been growing stronger: physically, mentally, spiritually and mechanically (tools/armor/weapons).  Instead, they were building idols and preparing for a party.

There are times in our life when we feel like we are parked.  We know we are not where God ultimately has planned for us to go, but we also know that God hasn’t moved us forward, yet, either.  So what do we do?  Do we use the time to grow stronger in our relationship with God?  Or, do we grumble and complain and fill our body, thoughts and soul with junk to try to satisfy our wants and desires?

Waiting is hard.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
Moses was so long in coming down, didn’t know what happened to him, turned to other gods

b.
He asked for their gold jewelry, he cast the idol and finished it with tools, he praised the idol instead of God, he built an altar, he participated in sacrifices to the idol, he called for a festival

c.
The Egyptians – bounty from the Lord’s conquest

4.
a.
Talents used for impropriety and wickedness, wasted or misused resources.  Focus on self satisfaction, greed

b.
there are no new temptations, just common ones, God is stronger and in charge, no reason to yield.  Use past lessons to learn

5.
a.
“your people” have become corrupt, quickly turned away from commanded and have made idol, stiff-necked, destroy them

b.
Destroy the people and start over with Moses – I will make you into a great nation

c.
As a witness to the Egyptians, out of memory of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, God’s covenant to them,

d.
relented and did not bring on his people the disaster He had threatened