Spiritual Rants: February 11 “My Aching Calf” Daily Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Exodus 32:1-33:23 Matthew 26:69-27:14 Psalm 33:1-11 Proverbs 8:33-36

Old Testament:   Exodus 32:1-33:23

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Intro:  

The Jews made a golden cow.

Moses persuaded God not to wipe out the Jews, at least for now.

Of God’s presence in the tabernacle there was no lack.

Moses was only allowed to see God only once and only His back.

Exodus 32:1-33:23

Exodus 32:1-9  My Aching Calf

Seriously? This people had seen God send plagues on Pharaoh and the “Gyptians. Saw the parting of the Red Sea. They saw a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night lead them. They had a miraculous provision of manna and quail. They had had extraordinary health and their clothes had not worn out as they should have (Exodus 15:26; Deut. 8: 4.) They saw Moses go up on the mountain and disappear into a cloud.

However, when they thought Moses had been gone too long (v. 1, “delayed,” forty days and nights, 24: 18), they asked Aaron to make them an idol of a golden calf.  Seriously?

There seems to be a rotten streak in mankind (cf. Rom. 5:12), that no matter how much grace God gives to man, they want to prove to God that they have inherent worth.  Here we see it again.  Despite all the miracles God had done, man still wants to do it themselves.  They were willing to give up their precious gold jewelry to have Aaron form it into a gold calf.  Then Aaron declared a feast and the Israelites par-tayed!

This did not escape Yahweh’s notice. Yahweh knew their nature, “obstinate.”  Stubborn?  God was willing to do another “Noah” and vaporize the nation and start again with just Moses. My response? A nation of Jerrys?  Cool.  Not Moses.

32:11-18  Moses Puts In A Word For Israel

Moses reminded God of all they had been through. He said the “Gyptians would put a bad spin on things.  He reminded God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Israel.  He reminded Him of His promise to multiply them as the “stars of the heavens” (v. 13).  Against the force of all Moses’ unmitigated logic, God changed His mind (v. 14).  But did He really?  Let’s think about that one.

Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament says, “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”  Numbers 23: 19 says, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it?” (ESV).  So does the Bible contradict itself?  Does God change His mind or not?

Let’s proceed with logic.  God is infinite.  Does everyone agree?  Do I really need a Scripture on this one?  OK.  Psa. 147:5, “Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”  IN this very passage, God knew that the Israelites were making the calf?  Moses was clueless!  So, assuming God is infinite and knows all things, wouldn’t He know ahead of time if He was going to change His mind that He would change His mind?  If He knew ahead of time that He was going to change His mind, did He really change His mind?  What changed?  (I rest my case.)

So why did God speak this way?  To cause Moses to think things through?  As a testimony to the world as they read this passage that He is merciful and gracious? But also to show His anger against sin and rebellion?  (Scratching chin, . . . mmmm . . . maybe??)

Moses started down the mountain with the rocks of the Law.  Joshua, who had gone up with him (24: 13), said he could hear noise down below and thought maybe the people had been attacked.  Moses said it wasn’t the sound of victory or defeat . . . it was the sound of a big Party!

32:19-35 Moses Loses His Tablets, Has Such A Headache!

Moses came down the mountain and saw the carrying on.  He threw down the tablets of stone that God had personally autographed.  He had the gold calf ground down to powder and had the people take it with water.  Then Moses ripped into Aaron.  Aaron had a good defense, he said Moses seemed to be MIA and the people were really demanding.  So he said he got the gold from them and threw it in the fire and a calf came out.  (Wow.  Did he use the old “the dog ate my homework excuse?”)

Moses asked all Israel if they were for the Lord, to cross a line and come to him.  Just the people of the tribe of Levi came to him.  So he had the Levite men slay some men, about 3,000 of them.  Others were stuck by a plague (v. 35 NIV, et. al.).  The Levites were to dedicate themselves to the Lord.  They were later chosen to carry the tabernacle (Num. 1:50-53) and after that performed the duty of the priests (Numbers 18).  Moses went back to the Lord and pled for them that He relate to them again.  Otherwise, Moses asked to be blotted out of Yahweh’s book.  It may have just been a census book God had written (v. 33) or he could have been forfeiting eternal life by not having his name in the book of life (for “book of life,” cf. Ps. 69:28; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 20:12, 15).  God promised that “His Angel” (v. 34), probably Christ, would continue to guide them but when the day of punishment came, He would punish the guilty parties.

33:1-11  A Bad Case Of Stiff Necks

Moses was commanded to continue the journey despite the bad case of stiff necks that the people had.  A “stiff neck” was symbolic of their obstinacy.

God said “His Angel” would go with the people but He wouldn’t go or He might get really mad and destroy them all.  The people did not wear their ornaments anymore for grief.  That would have symbolized joy but they were being repentant.

Of course, in v. 7 God said He would answer Moses’ prayer favorably and go with the Israelites.  The Angel goes but God doesn’t?  Perhaps, a Trinity reference?

Moses pitched an interesting tent outside the camp.  The pillar of cloud would descend when Moses went there to speak directly with the Lord.  Moses used to speak “face to face” with Yahweh, “just as a man speaks to his friend.”  We can do that now since the curtain between the two most holy places in the Temple has been rent.  We have free access to God. At that time, people would go to the “Tent of Meeting” with Moses to seek God in a special way.  Joshua, as a young man, guarded the tent when Moses was not there.  Speaking “face to face” to God was a figurative expression of intimacy.  Verse 20 indicates that no one could see God directly and live.  This will be true until Christians receive their glorified bodies in heaven when they will be able to withstand such glory.

33:12-23 High-Level Negotiation

I try not to talk to God the way Moses did.  But I might . . . He reminded God of what He had already promised.  Not a bad way to pray.  He told Yahweh, that if He did not go with the people, they might as well pack everything in.  That was the only way they would be differentiated from all the other people on earth.  Yahweh conceded.  Moses asked to see God’s “glory.”  Yahweh told Moses to stand on a rock.  Then He, Himself, would put Moses in the “cleft of the rock,” old-timey language and the name of hymn.  Yahweh would then cover over Moses with His hand and after He had passed by, Moses would be able to see His back.  But no one could see God’s face and live (see discussion above).

Summary:  

The Jews made an idol of a golden calf while Moses was up on the mountain with God.  Moses persuaded God not to wipe out the Jews.  God’s presence was represented by a pillar of a cloud.  It descended on the tent outside the camp when Moses was talking to God there.  God passed by Moses but he was only allowed to see His back.

New Testament:   Matthew 26:69-27:14

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Intro:

Peter knowing Christ denied.

Judas feeling guilt hung his own hide.

That Jesus was taken to Pilate wasn’t news.

He asked if He was King of the Jews.

Matthew 26:69-27: 14

Matthew 26:69-75  Peter In Denial

Peter was sitting in the courtyard when a servant girl asked if he had been with Jesus.  Peter said, “HUH?”   Denial No. 1

Then he went out to the gateway and another servant girl said she saw Peter with Jesus.  Peter “swore” that he did not know Jesus.  Denial No. 2.

Some bystanders then approached Peter and said his Gallilean accent gave him away as one of Jesus’ disciples.  For a second time Peter “swore” emphatically that he didn’t know Jesus.  Denial No. 3 and a rooster crowed.  Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said that before a rooster crows, he would deny Him three times.  Peter wept.

Matthew 27:1-10 Judas Is Hung Up

Morning came on Friday and the chief priest and elders conspired to put Jesus to death.  They bound him and took Him to Pilate who was the Roman governor of Judea and Samaria.  Jews were not allowed to pronounce the death sentence.

Judas didn’t realize he didn’t have a money back guarantee and tried to confess his sins to the priests.  They told him to take a hike.  He threw the thirty pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and went out and hung himself. (Acts 1: 18, 19 says that Judas bought the Field of Blood so named because Judas fell headlong in it and his guts spilled out.  The two could have happened together and do not necessarily contradict.)

That threw the priests into a dilemma since they didn’t want to waste money. Being the philanthropists that they were, they purchased the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers.  That place was known as the Field of Blood for quite a long time.  This fulfilled a prophecy of (Jeremiah 19:1, 4, 6, 11 also, Zech. 11: 12-13).

Matthew 27:11-14 Take Me To Your Pilate

Next stop for Jesus was before Pilate.  Pilate asked if Jesus was King of the Jews.  Jesus said, “You said it.”  But Jesus didn’t answer the chief priests and elders.  Pilate said, “Are you deaf?”  It “amazed” Pilate that Jesus didn’t even answer a word.

Summary:  

Peter said he didn’t know Christ . . .  three times.   Judas was so guilt ridden that he hung himself.  Jesus was taken before the Roman governor, Pilate.  Pilate asked if Jesus was King of the Jews.

Psalm 33:1-11    A Hymn Of Praise by David

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Psalm 33:1-11  Ten Reasons To Praise The Lord

Psalm 33 is a hymn of praise, probably written by David after a great victory (cf. possibly after defeating the Ammonites, 2 Sam 12:26-31; 1 Chron. 20:1-3).

I have recommended this form for a prayer.  Start with Adoration (A), then confess sins (C), give thanks (T), then make your requests (“S” for supplication).  Psalm 33 gives us a good model for praises, if you run out of ideas.  Psalm 32 gives us some good ideas regarding humility and how we should come to God in confession.

Ten reasons we should sing joyfully to the Lord (v. 1a):

  1. It’s right for the righteous to praise the Lord (v. 1b)
  2. Use harps.  I’m “ly”-ing.  String instruments like piano (what do you think is under the lid?) and guitars are fine (v. 2).
  3. The Word is good to use in praise.  It’s pretty honest (v. 4).
  4. God loves things that are right (v. 5a) and the whole world is filled with His hesed (v. 5b, you must know what that is by now!).
  5. God spoke and the world came into existence (cf. Ps. 33:9, department of redundancy department).
  6. God keeps all the water in the world where it is (v. 7).
  7. This is all very awesome (v. 8).
  8. God spoke and everything came into being (cf. v. 6, dept./redun. dept.).
  9. Whoever tries to stand against the Lord gets zipped (v. 10).
  10. When God tells you something, it’s true for all eternity (v. 11).

Proverbs 8:33-36    A Major Nosebleed

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Have you noticed that Solomon repeats the idea that young people need to heed God’s rules and strive to be wise (v. 1)?  Maybe it’s because Solomon, himself, was so reckless in his life.  He was supposed to be the wisest man in the world but that may have just been in politics (1 Kings 3:7-12).  In his personal life, he messed up a lot (Neh. 13:26).

We all need to grow in wisdom every day, “watching daily” for her (v. 34).  Have you ever known any older people that were pretty dumb?  Me, too.  They left the “gates” (v. 34b) when they were younger.

Have you ever heard of anyone shooting themselves in the foot?  Cutting off their nose to spite their face?  That’s the person described in verse 36.  They end up scraping off so much of their nose, they could bleed to death (v. 36b).

On the other hand, if you can find Wisdom, you’ll lead a happy life (v. 35a) and you’ll understand the full extent of how much God loves you (v. 35b, cf. Eph. 3:14-21).

Choose Life: Scripture:  Matthew 27:5  NASB    “Don’t Get Hung Up”

“And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.”   Matthew 27:5

Years ago when I was in band in high school, I wandering around the band room and found a coat hanger.  So I showed it to the band director and asked him what to do with it.  He said, “I don’t know but don’t get hung up about it.”

I don’t mean to be sacrilegious but I do want to make a very important point about the Christian life.  Peter and Judas both betrayed Christ.  Peter came back to Jesus but Judas got hung up.  What was the difference?

Peter was willing to humble himself and accept Jesus’ forgiveness.  Judas was too proud to trust Christ.

What do you do when you sin against Christ?  Do you throw a pity party and “feel bad” for your misdemeanor?  Do you cry and wallow in your grief over your sin?  Did you know that that does nothing for the relationship with God?  Have you heard that Jesus paid it all, all to him we owe?  Do you know what that means?

It means that you can’t do anything to atone for your own sin.  The only think you can do is show gratitude by relying on the Holy Spirit next time you are tempted.  So as the old Frank Sinatra song says, you should, “pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again.”

There’s no use having a pity party.  There’s no use wearing sackcloth and ashes.  Don’t get hung up.  Just ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), forgive yourself and get going.

If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:

Do you feel like you have to feel guilty or do something to atone for your own sins?  Do you realize that is an affront to Jesus who paid the price for you?  If someone gave you a really nice gift, would you say, “How much did you pay for that?  I’d like to donate a little toward it?”  That would be an insult to the giver, wouldn’t it?  It would.  Wouldn’t you be offended if you gave someone something and then they offered you something for it?  It wouldn’t be a gift if you paid for it.

What’s the best thing you could do in response to getting a gift?  You could show appreciation, right?  You could say, “Thank you.”  You could write a note.  You could brag to others about the gift you had gotten.  Right?  But you wouldn’t offer to pay for it!

So it is with Christ’s gift.  You can brag about it (cf. Jer. 9:24; 1 Cor. 1:31).  You can tell others about it. You can tell them how they could receive the same free gift (cf. Rom. 1:16-17).  You could re-gift it.  Hey, that’s not right.  Well, actually if it’s the gospel, you could re-gift it (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2).

You can feel sorry for your sins, if you want.  But it really won’t help anything.  You can’t add to Christ’s work or Christ’s present to you.  You might as well just get up and start traveling down the road again.

You’ll be blessed if you.

And you can thank me in the morning.

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   Peter In Denial, Judas Hung Up

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