His Encouragement #217

Welcome to His Encouragement Thursday! I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my struggle day of the week. By Thursday, I have already been working hard at school and at home, and I just wish it would hurry up and be Friday already. LOL! I definitely need a little extra Jesus time on Thursdays.

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

Exodus 32:1 (ESV)

“When the people saw…” is an interesting phrase. Let’s talk about what all these people saw with their eyeballs. They saw YAHWEH perform. They saw Him in action and in complete control. He sent down punishing plagues against a nation that enslaved them, humiliated them, demoralized them. And how did they repay God? They complained…constantly.

Then they saw YAHWEH lead them out of Egypt (not Moses). YAHWEH took them away from injustice, abuse, and murder. And they saw HIM. At night, YAHWEH was a pillar of fire and during they day He was a cloud. How did they repay God for His redemption and delivery out of a scary place? How did they repay God for the honor of being in His actual presence? They complained…constantly.

Then they watched miracles…actual miracles that could only have been God. YAHWEH parted water and the ground was dry as if NO water had ever been there. God saved these people from the murderers who were coming after them. These people watched miracles and saving, and how did they repay God? That’s right, more complaining.

These people saw again and again the majesty, the awe-inspiring miracles, and the saving works of God, and it was never enough. Never.

Moses goes up Mt. Sinai to collect the first set of Ten-Commandment tablets only to be told by God, “Get back down the mountain. YOUR people are worshipping idols!” How absolutely heartbreaking for God. It’s so heartbreaking, God separates Himself from them by declaring them Moses’s people. Of course, when Moses gets down to the people they are whining, complaining, and passing the buck.

The question I always had in regards to this story is WHY? Why were these people so bent on getting as far from God as possible? I mean, seriously consider ALL they saw and experienced. It truly would have been amazing to live through that time.

The past couple of weeks, God has put on my heart the notion of PERSPECTIVE. The answer to my question boils down to HOW we see God. When I read my Bible, I am in absolute awe. Many times I’m also confused cause I fully admit I don’t get it all, but I am always in awe. God is stunning. He is miraculous. He is Abba. He is Savior. He is mercy, kindness, and love. He is self-sacrificing. He is powerful and all-consuming. He is Justice. He is Healer. He is AMAZING. This is my perspective. It’s HOW I see God. But the people (not all I’m sure, but most) who left Egypt with Moses saw God though a different perspective.

Before judging the people who left Egypt with Moses, which is something I easily fall into doing (sorry Yeshua for judging), we need to remember who these people were. They were slaves, servants, people in bondage. These people were an abused and broken people. They only ever saw authority as something that hurt, punished, and destroyed. I mean, at one point people were having their infants tossed into the Nile. How do you survive that?! It’s really easy for me to judge an entire group of people from the safety of my non-slave status. So, I don’t want to judge. I just want to understand why. Why did these people see God in the negative? So much so, they felt they always needed an intercessor, a go-between. Why couldn’t they just relationship with God?

I turned to my favorite contemporary Rabbi for answers. Rabbi Fohrman from Aleph Beta has a podcast called Into the Verse. It’s fantastic. I learn SO much from his awesome teachings. I highly recommend listening to what he’s got to say. Anyway, he recently released an episode on the golden calf debacle, and he brought a little understanding to this perspective issue I’ve been having lately. The fact that the people coming out of Egypt were slaves, were severely broken people, actually matters. They saw authority as something that has hierarchy and as something that destroys. Pharoah had go-betweens (you didn’t just walk up to Pharoah and live to tell that tale) and God used Moses as the intercessor (at least that’s how the people saw Moses’s role). They also saw God as a destroyer…like Pharoah. God killed all the first born, so in their broken minds, God wasn’t really any different than Pharoah. So, the constant complaining…it’s all they knew. The fear…it’s all they knew. Hierarchy…it’s all they knew. When Moses “disappeared” up Mt. Sinai, and didn’t come back at the perceived right time, the people needed a new go-between. Enter the golden calf. In their minds, they weren’t idol worshipping. They were using an intermediary to talk to God to keep Him at a safe distance. They understood God was God, but they had no concept of creating a relationship with God. They needed to keep Him at a distance. So, if Moses wasn’t going to be that go-between person, then they needed someone or something else.

So, what does this have to do with us today?

It’s all about PERSPECTIVE. How do you see God? How do you treat God? How do you act with God? Do you have a servant/slave mentality like the people, or are you like Moses — in a relationship with God? In these days, the answers to these questions really, really matter. Having a relationship with God only takes your heart. You don’t have to be anything special. You don’t have to be in a special, perfect place. You don’t have to do anything special. All you have to do is give God your heart. It’s that simple. And this is the thing those people a long, long time ago didn’t get, so they made idols. Please don’t make idols today!



2 thoughts on “His Encouragement #217

  1. Excellent and insightful post. I had never thought about the Israelites always expecting to have an intermediary. What bothers me about the whole golden calf story is that Aaron, the priest, made the calf for them. Why? Wasn’t he himself an intermediary, too? After all, he was a spokesperson to Pharoah when Moses said he couldn’t speak well. It boggles my mind that Aaron was supposed to be a leader while Moses was on the mountain and he led the people in the wrong way. The solution is obviously to have your own relationship with God and not depend on other people because they will always disappoint you. I love this post so much that I am re-blogging it, Nicole. Have a great Thursday!


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