MOSES AND THE GOLDEN CALF
Reading: Exodus 19:1-5, 32:1-4, 19-26
(a)††††††† During past months we had looked at Moses and saw so many of the wonderful things that God did for the Children of Israel. If one looks at their miraculous history at that point, then surely we are amazed to see what happens now!
(b)††††††† Their memories of all Godís goodness must have been very short-lived indeed! One gets the impression that they must have been suffering from some form of spiritual amnesia.
(c)††††††† Yet I am reminded of so many Christians whose spiritual illness seems to be very similar!
(d)††††††† God has redeemed them with the precious Blood of Christ!
He has rescued them from the power and penalty of sin in their own lives!
He has given them the fellowship and love of Godís people!
Yet, unbelievably, we find that they are going in the opposite direction, and backsliding to such a state that it is as if they never knew God at all!!
(e)††††††† We all know people who have gone away from the Lord, and perhaps caused us great heartache in the process!
(a)††††††† We can learn much from the events in the lives of the Children of Israel. So many of the events can freely be translated into a Christian context, and we can often see applications to our own lives and those of others today.
(b)††††††† The people have come to Mount Sinai, and Moses has gone up to the mountain to meet with God.
(c)††††††† The problem was that when Moses was gone for what was probably over a month, the people decided that he was not going to come back, and unfortunately, there was no-one there to take his place!
It is often said that no-one is indispensable!
I think this story is perhaps the exception to the rule!
There was no-one spiritually to take Mosesís place in his absence!
(d)††††††† The spiritual leader was missing, and the people just spiritually fell apart!! Does it not show us the importance of good local spiritual leadership within a corps, or church: those who are able to take up the reigns when necessary.
The test is not how it runs with an Officer or minister in charge, but how it does when there isnít one there for whatever reason!
(e)††††††† Because of the officer shortage throughout the Army at present, between a quarter and a third of corps are being left un-officered - some of them small - but some of them quite large.
(a)††††††† Often it is the case, that when an officer moves, a new officer is distressed to find that much of the fabric of the corps is falling apart, people are disgruntled, others are leaving, yet others are backsliding.
(b)††††††† Often the reason for this is that the previous officer was being used as a spiritual crutch, and there was a dependence on him or her instead of the Lord.
(c)††††††† Moses was indeed their leader, but it is very obvious that he was also their crutch!! Our relationship with God must never be dependant on the actions of another person!
(d)††††††† As soon as he was away for a while, they fell flat on their faces, worshipping idols as if theyíd never known any better!!
(e)††††††† I think itís ironic that while God is giving to Moses commandments about having no other gods before Him, and not worshipping graven images, that is exactly what they are doing!!
(f)†††††††† There are many Christians and Salvationists who are leaning on other people. What other people do affects them spiritually!
(g)††††††† We must be able to say of a truth, IN GOD OUR TRUST!
Not in man, for he will surely fail - BUT GOD NEVER FAILS!!
(a)††††††† The test of Israel was how well they did in the absence of their spiritual leader! We know they failed the test miserably!
(b)††††††† Although Aaron was the mouthpiece of Moses and through him, even the mouthpiece of God, the Bible makes no effort to cover up the fact that Aaron bowed to pressure very quickly, and made the golden calf for the people to worship. So although he appeared as an active leader, he obviously had no real vital spiritual experience within himself! He was just a mouth!
(c)††††††† It has been said that the people were more looking to an excuse to gratify their own passions than they were for a god, and indeed the heathen worship involved, would have much in the way of sexually orientated activity. Promiscuity is not a new concept by any means!!
(d)††††††† By the time Moses appeared, Aaron had told the people that their idols "are the gods....which brought thee out of Egypt!"(Exodus 32:4)
(a)††††††† When Moses came down the mountain, and saw the golden calf, and naked Israelites cavorting about everywhere, he flew into a despairing rage, smashing the tables of stone upon the ground, that had Godís laws written upon them, written with the very finger of God Himself!!
I suppose one could hardly blame him, there are times in the past when I think I have felt something similar!!
It is very frustrating when you present the Word of God, "GOD-BREATHED" as it said recently in our Alpha Course - and no-one will take it seriously. They wrongly attribute it to the preacher, instead of God speaking through that preacher.
(b)††††††† The breaking of those tables of stone signified that Israel had broken - indeed smashed to pieces the very commands of God!!
(c)††††††† When he had gathered himself together, or recovered his cool, as we would say today, he asked the Children of Israel, a soul searching question, which we find in the well known song, "WHO IS ON THE LORDíS SIDE?" He didnít ask, "Who is on my side?"
He didnít ask, "Who is sitting on the fence?"
(d)††††††† It was not enough that they followed Moses!!
They had to FOLLOW THE LORD!!
(e)††††††† There are far too many today who do not think for themselves, and spiritually make their own decisions, they always do what someone else says they should do!
(f)†††††††† I remember someone coming to me and saying, "WHAT SHOULD I DO?" The problem was that the same person went around asking everyone else the same question!!
I said, "STOP ASKING EVERYONE WHAT YOU SHOULD DO!! SIT DOWN AND WORK OUT THE BEST THING TO DO FOR YOURSELF, AND THEN GO AND DO IT
(g)††††††† So long as we keep following someone else, and their opinions and ideas on what we should do, we are NO GOOD TO GOD.
NO ONE KNOWS BETTER THAN WE DO, WHAT GOD WANTS US TO DO, AND WE HAVE LITERALLY GOT TO SIT DOWN WITH HIM AND WORK IT OUT.
(A)†††††† Let us make sure, when the question comes to our hearts, "WHO IS ON THE LORDíS SIDE?" that we will not run to someone else to find out what the answer should be, but that we will be able to answer for ourselves.
(b)††††††† Sometimes today we say that people have "A HARD NECK"
God said more or less that about the Children of Israel in Exodus 33:5 that they were "A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE"
(c)††††††† Let us be sure we are never guilty of taking the Lord for granted, in His forgiveness, His presence, or His provision!
(d)††††††† There are many today who are, for reasons best known to themselves worshipping idols and false gods!
(e)††††††† Who or what sits enthroned upon your heart today??
If it isnít the Lord - then something or someone is taking His place, of that you can be absolutely sure!
(f)†††††††† But let us always keep in mind, that where there is true repentance, then for all who are sincere, there is forgiveness available!
(g)††††††† Each and every Christian has the responsibility entrusted to us by God to take that message to the whole world!!
(h) Even if you are here, and have insulted and debased God, by putting an idol on the throne of your heart - still HE LOVES YOU, and is willing to forgive if you come to Him in true repentance!
SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK
487 (832 )
Chorus "Leaning on the Lordís side"