Save Us from Ourselves!
Loving Lord, thank You for giving me new perspectives and opening before me new horizons. I eagerly wait before You.
Read Exodus 32:25-33:6
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin…” (Eph 2:1,2, The Message). But Christ set us free!
This “running wild” (25) was serious sinning. The word translated “dancing” (19) implies an ecstatic religious ceremony, which in a bull-cult could have orgiastic implications. In full view of those around, it brought dishonor to Yahweh’s name. Moreover, idol worship always leads to moral decay (Rom. 1:24,25) and so their sin would have continuing consequences for the people themselves, even though as yet they hadn’t heard the specifics of the covenant God was proposing to make with them. We know that when the instructions were again written down and frequently rehearsed in their hearing, they still found it hard to be faithful.
Moses’ act of deliberately breaking the law-tablets signals the breaking of their covenant with the Lord. Still, it is not the punishment that should surprise us, harsh as it looks today, nor the implication that it was okay for brother Israelite to kill brother Israelite; rather, it is God’s amazing offer of a fresh start. So often we take grace for granted when it should always startle us. As Jesus makes clear, we’d all be obliterated if it weren’t for such grace (Luke 13:1-5).
Moses was prepared to be the man in the gap, literally “covering” their sin with his own life. Instead, he is asked to resume the journey as leader of a people whose fallibility is now very apparent. In retrospect, Moses might have thought the 40 years of leading them in their desert preparation to occupy the Promised Land was an even greater challenge than dying for them! This is often God’s way of rewarding faithful service. It was experienced by the Levites who stood by the Lord—they were “blessed” (29) for their obedience by increased duties—and it is the reward Jesus offers to all faithful servants (Matt. 25:14-30)!
Martin Luther spoke of “continual repentance.” Determine to enter again and again into this cleansing activity of the heart. Start it now.
Heavenly Father, Your Word has so many lessons to teach me. I do not deserve it, but You constantly allow me to start anew. Thank You.
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