Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day three)
“[The Lord] has filled [Bezalel] with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.”
Though God could have willed it so, it is unlikely that Bezalel suddenly found himself able to do metalworking and gemcutting—as if he had never worked with such materials before, then woke up one day as an expert in those crafts. The method of God with people that we see repeatedly in scripture is his use of time to help form the bodies, minds, and spirits of those who seek his direction. We’re prone to curse time as being too long (or too short). But one who seeks to grow in the way God has made him will find time to be a beautiful pathway along which the Holy Spirit leads him into the fullness of God.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day two)
Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, 6 and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen…35:5-6
Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it. 36:2
This passage not only declares how generous believers can/should be, but it also proclaims boldly that our God is the creative, imaginative, and beautiful designer of the Universe. He didn’t stop “creating” when the world was finished. His majesty and creativity are seen in every sunset, canyon or mountain vista, and especially in the miracle of a newborn’s face. We are to love him beautifully and creatively as well. We must all find our gifts and give them generously to the Lord and his work, and marvel at the creative majesty of our God.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day one)
“The people are bringing MORE THAN ENOUGH for doing the work the Lord has commanded. . .and so they were restrained from bringing more.”–36:5-6. Followers of Christ are often marked by extravagance, a reckless generosity that answers need with enthusiasm and call with over-the-top willingness. Real faith is not stingy. Our gospel is generous. Many examples of it in Scripture. Mary in John 12. She POURS perfume on Christ and is criticized for being extravagant. By everyone but Christ. He knew. True love doesn’t pinch pennies. Another example is the people of Israel in the collection for the tabernacle. They overgive! (is that a word? If it isn’t, it should be). They respond with such generosity that they have to be restrained. Hmmmm. . . too many teachers for Bible study, too many dollars for the projects we feel led to accomplish, too many ideas/ volunteers for reaching people. True mark of faith, ours is a generous gospel.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day seven)
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”–James 5:16 (KJV). It is a burden. No way round this truth. Real prayer is eventually a relief and a blessing, but before that it is hard and holy work! It is also an expression of love. When we love people, we pray for them. Not in an easy, casual, convenient sort of way. With passion and perseverance. Like Moses in Exodus 32. Having received just a hint of hope from God, “let me alone so that my anger may burn against them”–32:10, Moses discerns an opportunity to intercede. Not for himself. Not even for them, I think, but in pursuit of the higher purpose of God. Reminds me of Jesus in Gethsemane. Reminds me also of God’s unchanging invitation. “Call unto Me and I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”–Jeremiah 33:3. The highest purposes of God come only when we pray.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day six)
After reading Moses’ conversations with God this week, it made me consider my own. Moses was clearly bold, passionate, and persuasive; it was as if he were arguing with his best friend. I believe there is much to learn from these conversations between Moses and God. As I reflect on my own prayer life, it begs a few questions:
Is my prayer life bold? Are my prayers filled with meaningless repetitive phrases, or am I having real and regular conversations with God? Do I pray believing that He has the power to act on my behalf and on the behalf of others? Do I remind God of His promises? Do I pray knowing that only God can save? Do I pray as if it really matters that I pray at all?
The Bible describes Moses’ conversations with God as “face to face.” This paints a beautiful yet fearful picture of their relationship. Moses boldly spoke with the Creator, believing that He alone had the power and the will to shape his destiny and that of His people. Perhaps, even more awesome is that God invites us to do the same. He calls us to “boldly approach His throne of grace.” (Hebrews 4:16) He invites us to have real and meaningful conversations that have consequence, that matter!
Father, teacher us to pray like Moses!
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day five) 7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them.
It happened that fast. Perhaps it was an idea or a fleeting thought. Maybe it was born out of fear or frustration. The end result was an immediate derailing from God’s plan and path.
This summer at Youth Camp we are studying Galatians 5:24-25. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
This verse speaks to the attention and the determination we MUST have in order to serve and follow the Living God. Sin and disobedience are as close as “the next step”.
One of my new favorite songs has these lyrics: To my heart I preach Your sovereignty and the power of Your name. God, let hope arise and faith become the fortress of my heart. I will lift my eyes and see You as the awesome God You are, believe You as the awesome God You are.
How and when do we “preach” to our hearts the power, strength, and goodness of the Living God?
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day four) They were an obstinate people. No sooner had they pledged their obedience to God, than they turned to idolatry and sin. Moses was careful to protect God’s reputation. He pleaded with God to forgive them and to hold His anger against them. Holding the tablets with God’s own handwriting on them, Moses was convincing to God not to be angry with the Israelites. God relented of his anger. Then Moses turned to go down to the people. In his hands were still the tablets with God’s writing engraved on them. When Moses came into the camp and saw what was going on, his anger burned. He threw the stone tablets down and shattered them. Had God made the offer again to destroy the people at that time, Moses might have taken Him up on the offer. By the next day though, Moses returned to his position of intercession. Moses was true to his call…God tasked him with leading Israel to the Promised Land and he was faithful to his responsibility. Moses held fast to God’s Word.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day three)
“His anger burned…” Moses saw the Israelites living the life they had learned over the last four centuries in Egypt: If your God is bigger than your own desires, your God is too big. Moses knew that to give up on God is to give up on reality, and death follows soon thereafter. Egypt itself was already dead; God had shattered that culture and taken the children of Israel out into the wilderness to rebuild a new culture powered by a new worldview—one based in reality, not in false perceptions of the universe. Now, the children of Israel had returned to a dead culture in all but geography. Moses’s anger called them back. They listened, and they returned. Are there Christian mentors or elders or leaders in your life tablet-smashingly troubled over your spiritual direction? Are you listening?
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day two)
“Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 32:1-2
Aaron is a leader. He has demonstrated that he has the ability to communicate even under very difficult decisions. He also seems, for the most part, to be more even-keeled than his brother Moses. So what happened? Now that the people are looking to him, asking hard questions, and his brother is still on the mountain his leadership skills take a nosedive.
The mob will always take the path of least resistance. The people had been uprooted, but protected. It seems interesting that they acknowledged God’s provision to bring them out of captivity, but are unwilling to trust for 40 days. They demanded action, answers, and only on their terms. This isn’t surprising, this is what we do.
Aaron knew better. Aaron’s proximity to Moses and to God should have given him the courage to tell hard truths to a hostile audience. Leaders must do this. Leadership isn’t about giving folks what they want, it’s about seeing a greater vision and holding a people accountable to that dream.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day one)
“He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf.”–v 32:4. It was an epic fail! How could it happen? Just weeks before (in Exodus 24) these same people had promised full obedience to the Lord and His commandments. “No other gods. . .no images.” With sincere hearts (we assume) they entered into a covenant of obedience with God. How, then (by chapter 32), could they stumble so badly, so publically, as to make a golden calf and represent it as Jehovah God? Those of us who have made promises to God know the answer. So long as we count on ourselves and our own resources to do God’s will, we fail every time. “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” said Jesus to Peter. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it” we sing in confession of this truth. We need God in order to obey God.