Aaron’s Golden Calf

golden calf“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.” 

Begin by reading Exodus 32:1-6. The Hebrews demanded that Aaron make gods for them to worship and remarkably Aaron did so. Up until this point of the Exodus narrative Aaron had been as the spoken voice of God to the people of Israel. God would instruct Moses, Moses would share the commands with Aaron, and Aaron would in turn relay all that God had said to the people. They had all witnessed the plagues in Egypt, miraculously crossed the Red Sea, and trembled in fear as smoke and fire descended onto Mount Sinai. They had not yet received the written tablets but the words of the Ten Commandments had been spoken by God in Exodus 20. Before and after the commandments were listed all the congregation of Israel said together “All that you say we will do.” So why after all that would they risk provoking the anger of God by making an idol to worship? Continue reading

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A Seed Must Fall

wheatTruly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24 ESV)  I’ve heard that verse a couple of times this weekend, so it was fresh in mind when I started reading the Exodus this morning.  Let’s first put it in its proper context.

Nearly half of John’s Gospel deals with the events of the Passion week.  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem is recorded at the beginning of chapter 12, and this verse is spoken by Jesus in reference to his hour having come.  A seed must fall into the ground and die just as Jesus must go down into the earth by being placed in the grave.  John 12:24 is an illustration of how Jesus must die and be buried in order to rise again with new life.  By being obedient to the Father’s will, Jesus will produce much fruit for the Kingdom.  God speaks aloud in verse 27 and says that he has gloried Jesus’ name and will glorify it again. Continue reading

Who God Uses, Part II

Look at Who God Uses lists several characters from Bible history, pointing out the characters flaws and shortcomings of each one.  The original post points out that God uses the small, the weak and the broken to do his will and work, but does nothing to explain why.

Consider the nation of Israel.  By the time of Moses, the tribes of Israel were slaves serving the Egyptians.  God brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand, demonstrating his power by allowing Israel to plunder the wealth of Egypt and destroying Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea.  He led them to the land of Canaan, providing their needs and defeating their enemies for them.  Israel went from serving Egypt to building an empire of their own.  And all they could say about it was “look what God did for us.”

Ultimately Israel forsook God and worshiped the idols of others nations.  They rejected God and his Law, and as he promised the land was taken from them and given to others.  Our health, our strength, our prosperity, all that we have is a gift from God.  We are responsible for what we do with it, making us stewards of what is God’s rather than the owners of what is ours.  

No one used by God to do great things can really say “Look what I did.”  While I didn’t mean for this to be a Thanksgiving post, it is the perfect opportunity to say “Look what God has done.”  Christ humbled himself on the cross so that God could lift him up.  What greater example could be given?

Our Mission is Not Their Mission

The Bible tells one story; the Old Testament and the New are both part of that story.  The message of scripture from beginning to end is how a holy God, perfect in righteousness, deals with humanity, which is fallen, broken and unrighteous.  At the center of that story is Jesus.

There is a definite relationship between the old covenant and the new.  I often describe Judaism as a analogy for Christianity.  The Hebrews in the Old Testament are analogous in many ways to Christians of the New Testament.  There are many similarities but we must be clear: the two are not the same.  The Hebrews came out of Egypt on a mission; as Christians we should be on mission.  But our mission is very different from their mission. Continue reading

Lord of History

When God speaks to Moses from the burning bush, he knows that Pharaoh will not let the Hebrews go “unless compelled by a mighty hand.”  God has a series of signs and wonders in store for Egypt.  There comes a point when Pharaoh would have been willing to let them go and we’re told that God hardened his heart, because he was not done demonstrating his power.  It was all part of God’s plan.

I did not intend to preach a sermon featuring 9/11 on the 10th anniversary.  I decided to use text from Genesis 15, when God met with Abram (not yet Abraham) and renewed his covenant to make of him a great nation.  God explains that it will not happen right away; as a matter of fact it will not happen for another 400 years.

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  Gen. 15:13-14

Continue reading

A Royal Priesthood

If you’re a follower, online or in real life, you know how I feel about the Old Testament: everything is a metaphor.  The nation of Israel, sacrificial system, temple, alter, high priest, exodus from Egypt, brass serpent, passover, circumcision, etc. are all symbolic of what Christ does in the New Testament.  You’ve probably heard me say (or at least read) that Moses leading the Hebrews through the wilderness is a portrait of Jesus leading us through this present wilderness.  They were marching toward the “promised land” and so are we.  Abraham was willing to offer his son Isaac… you get the point.  Is there an analogy left that I could possibly make?  Why yes, yes there is.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  –1 Peter 2:9

We – all Christians – are priests.   Continue reading

Kings of Israel – Saul

The Old Testament nation of Israel was ruled over by only three kings, after which time 10 of the tribes broke from Judah.  Sometimes Judah and Israel were at war with each other, sometimes not, and each had a long line of kings that forgot God most of the time.  But for a brief period Israel expanded its borders, defeated its enemies, and had a king on the throne like all the other nations.  They thought they were winners. Continue reading