As I read about Moses on the mountain with the Lord, then the disaster that followed with Israel worshiping the golden calf, then read about Jesus’ betrayal, beating, trial and suffering, I am stuck by the contrast of God’s glory to our sinfulness. The leaders of Israel had seen the glory of God on the mountain. Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 elders had all saw the glory of the Lord and were not killed (Ex 24:9). Within the next 40 days or so, Aaron fashioned the golden calf that these men and Israel worshiped. What was gong on in his mind? What possessed him to fear the people instead of the God of the universe who was making a whole mountain tremble? Sin. We all have it and we all fall prey to its power.
The same thing happened with Jesus. He had performed miracle for three years. People flocked to him for healing and instruction. They marveled as he called the Pharisees to account. They saw God’s power and glory in Jesus. Then what happened? Judas betrayed him. What possessed this disciple to give Jesus to the priests? Was it only 30 pieces of silver or was it more? It was sin.
It didn’t end with the golden calf, though it could have. God was ready to disown and destroy Israel starting over again with Moses (Ex 32:10). How would we have reacted to a proposal like that? Would we have let that go to our heads or would we have pleaded with God to keep his promises and save the nation? That would be a big temptation. The result was God sparing Israel and showing Moses as much of his glory as he could stand.
Back to Jesus and his trial, the people who had cheered as he came into Jerusalem a few days before, then called for his crucifixion. They wanted a king to rid them of the Romans and now they were calling on their enemy to rid them of Jesus.
We may not be so callous as to turn like this when we don’t get what we want but we do it more often than we think. When the answers to our prayers are delayed (Moses was delayed 40 days), or the answer is no (Jesus was not going to rid them of the Romans), what do we do? Too many of us turn to our own devices to get what we want that is in opposition to what God wants for us. That is sin. It may be a momentary anger or it may be worse. It may be a “small” lie or it may be worse.
However, we need to remember that our sins will never diminish God’s glory. His glory is seen in his holiness and continued love for us even when we sin. He kept his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to make this nation from them. He kept his promises to bring the Messiah from Judah and not from Moses (Levi). Jesus kept his promises to die for our sins and give us everything we need for life and godliness as we are now able to participate in his divine nature (2 Peter 1:3). Because of God’s glory, we don’t need to yield to those sinful responses and even when we do, we can confess, repent, and get back on the right path. Our faces may not shine from God’s glory reflected on our faces, be we know we are being transformed into his glory bit by bit (2 Cor 3:18).