Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 11: Exodus 32 – 33; Psalm 33:1-12; Proverbs 8:33-36; Matthew 26:69-27:14


            Exodus: Moses doesn’t come down from the mountain for a long time so the people convince Aaron to make gods to lead them. Aaron fashions a golden calf from their earrings. The people offer sacrifices before it and then party.
            God tells Moses what’s going on and that he will kill them all and make a nation out of Moses. Moses intercedes for them reminding God of his promises. So the Lord sends Moses down to stop the people.
            When Moses gets down from the mountain, he throws the tablets down and breaks them. He asks Aaron how he could do this and Aaron denies doing anything other than melting the gold. He blames the people. Moses burns and powders the idol, calls anyone who is for the Lord to put on a sword and kill people in the camp. A bunch of Levites do it. About 3,000 are killed.
            Moses tells the people he will go back up and try to atone for their sin. His intercession includes his willingness to be blotted out of the Lord’s book. The Lord says he will blot out only those who sinned against him. He sends a plague that kills many more.
            The Lord tells Moses to lead the people into Canaan with an angel before them to drive out the inhabitants. The Lord says he will not go with them or he will kill them on the way because they are stiff-necked. When the people heard, they mourned and took off all their ornaments.
            Moses pitched the tent of meeting outside the camp. When he went to the tent people would rise and stand. They could see the pillar of cloud descend to the entrance of the tent and they worshiped. God spoke to Moses face to face. Joshua stayed at the tent when Moses left.
            Again, Moses intercedes and asks the Lord to show him his ways so that Moses may find favor in his sight. He argues that unless the Lord goes with him and the people, they won’t know if they have God’s favor. It is God’s presence that makes them distinct for all other nations.
            The Lord agrees and then Moses asks to see his glory. The Lord says he will make his goodness pass before him and he will proclaim his name, “The Lord,” but he will be gracious and show mercy to whomever he wants. But no one can see God’s face and live. So, when his goodness passes by, he will put Moses in the cleft of a rock, cover him with his hand, and then let Moses see his back.
            Psalm: We are to praise and worship God because he is upright. We should do this with music and shouts. We do it because God’s word is upright, he is faithful, loves righteousness, justice, and the world is full of his love.
            He has created all things and we should stand in awe of him. He commands creation, nations, and our plans. What he decides happens.
            The nation he chooses is blessed, the people that are his heritage.
            Proverbs: Wisdom is still the subject. Paying attention to instruction brings wisdom. There are blessings with getting it such as life and the Lord’s favor. Failing to be wise brings injury and rejecting it brings death.
            Matthew: While waiting around during Jesus’ trial, Peter is accused three times of being associated with Jesus. A rooster crows after his third denial with oaths. Peter then goes out and weeps.
            When morning arrived, the council finalize the verdict and turn Jesus over to Pilate the governor.
            When Judas sees the result of his betrayal, he tries to give back the money to the chief priests and elders. He knows Jesus is innocent but they tell him that’s his problem so he throws it in the temple. They take it and buy a potter’s field for a burial place for strangers. He then hangs himself. This fulfills prophecy.
            Pilate asks Jesus if he is the king of the Jews. Jesus says he is. But Jesus does not answer any of the accusations made by the chief priests and elders. That amazes Pilate.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written” (Ex 32:32).
            Psalm: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” (Ps 33:12).
            Proverbs: “For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov 8:35).
            Matthew: “But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed” (Matt 27:14).


            Exodus: There is so much in this reading that it could take months to do it justice. But Moses’ intercession for the people is significant. He is given a promise to become the new nation of Israel. God said he would wipe them all out and start over with Moses. How many people would jump at an honor like that? Moses didn’t. Just as Jesus didn’t jump at the chance to get all the kingdoms of the world in obedience to him without going to the cross (Matt 4:8-9), so Moses is shown as willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the people. Often Moses is called a type for Jesus, a person in the Old Testament that foreshadowed what Jesus would be like. This is one instance the clearly stands as being a type.
            On the other hand, you might say Aaron was a type for all the rest of us. The people swayed him to make a golden calf. We must remember that Aaron had been on the mountain and saw God. Seventy elders were with him as well as his sons. We are impatient with God and we demand action. Aaron must have feared a rebellion but didn’t remind them of the commandment to not make other gods. He took a graving tool and with all intent and forethought made the calf. Then when he is confronted, he lies. Just like Adam in the Garden, he blames others, the people. To make it worse, he essentially blames God because only a sovereign God could throw gold into a furnace and have a perfectly formed idol come out. He didn’t even own up to the fact that he offered sacrifices before it. When we get stuck in sin, we’ll try many things before owning up to it, confessing it, and asking for forgiveness.
            God is gracious. He could have killed everyone who participated in the idol worship. That would have included Aaron. But, as he says to Moses, he will be gracious and merciful to whomever he wants (Ex 33:19). This is a significant statement about the sovereignty of God. We cannot question his choices as if we were to judge him. When it comes to election, people question God’s right to do what he knows is right. Paul uses this very verse to explain that there is no injustice with him and he can show mercy or compassion on whomever he wants (Rom 9:14-18).
            Psalm: The theme of God’s sovereignty runs throughout the Bible. It was in Exodus and it appears again in this Psalm. His attributes of justice and faithfulness are seen also. Because of his attributes, including his omnipotent, we are to praise and worship him.
            Israel had a unique position in the Old Testament. The Lord chose them out of all the nations to be his people. No other country could claim that then or now. I often hear people claiming that the U.S. is God’s nation. But we aren’t any more than all nations belong to him. We are not a chosen country. At this time in history, God is working through his church. As Christians, we are a chosen people, but not a chosen nation. We should not set our hopes on this nation bringing about the peace on earth that only Jesus’ return can accomplish.
            Is Israel still a chosen nation? Well, they don’t act like it now because they are a secular version just like or worse than when Jesus came the first time. They will have another chance; that is still God’s promise to them. When that happens, there will be no doubt that they will be blessed.
            Proverbs: Finding wisdom isn’t automatic. We must pay attention to instruction. That instruction can be found in the Word of God, the Bible. Many people in this world today seek wisdom. It requires listening to God daily, watching and being ready to step though the door as we get it. We will have life and the Lord’s favor.
            The contrast is the one who doesn’t find wisdom. This person isn’t looking and is injured because of the lack of wisdom. Even worse is the one who rejects and hates the God’s wisdom. They look at God’s word and deny its truth so that they can do whatever they want. They love death because that is what they will achieve forever.
            Matthew: It’s easy to judge others and how they react under pressure. If we were in Peter’s sandals, we would probably do the same, especially because Jesus said he would do it. Again, this is before Peter has the Holy Spirit living in him. We always think we will do better than we probably would under pressure. This is why it is so important to be faithful in the little things, so when the big temptations come, we have already formed a pattern of faithfulness to the Lord. Peter only had three years with Jesus. Some of us have had forty. Some of us have had a long time but seldom talk to Jesus or read his word, so we aren’t faithful in the little things. That makes it is easy to act like a baby Christian. Peter went out and wept when he realized his unfaithfulness. Do we weep when we recognize our sin? Probably not, unless the consequences of our sin hurt us in some way, such as being caught and going to jail. Peter’s unfaithfulness didn’t hurt him in this way. We need to remember to take heed unless we fall (1 Cor 10:12).
            Peter had godly sorrow, Judas had worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to repentance and worldly sorrow leads to death (2 Cor 7:10). In this case, it was immediate, suicide.
            Jesus’ response to Pilate and the chief priests was significantly different. He readily answered Pilate’s question when it was a question about the truth. When the others accused him falsely, he remained silent. Pilate may not have completely understood what he was asking. Did he know that being king of the Jews meant that Jesus was the Messiah, God incarnate? Probably not. But Jesus was willing to tell him more than he would tell the Jews who should have known and not wanted to kill him. The Jews were telling lies to get Jesus condemned to death. Pilate was asking questions to find out why the Jews were doing this.
            Asking someone who Jesus is, is a good way to start a conversation that could lead to someone becoming a Christian. However, there are many who have already made up their minds. If someone is looking for the truth, Jesus will reveal himself. If they are trying to excuse themselves or continue in their disbelief, then Jesus often remains silent.


            I need to be more careful about judging others as well as thinking too much of myself. If I’m not careful and depend on the Holy Spirit, I can sin. I also need to have more remorse about my sin so that I don’t fall into it again. I also need to own up to it.

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