Moses had left Aaron and Hur to serve and tend to the people, while he met with the LORD on the mountain (Exodus 24:13-14). Neither of them were aware it would take 40 days and 40 nights to receive the Law (Exodus 24:18).
The children of Israel couldn’t wait, so they asked Aaron to take over, “…for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” (Exodus 32:1).
In one sense, it’s understandable that the people might wonder, why so long? But we need to know that God’s delays are not God’s denials, we must wait on the LORD, His timing is best.
Aaron was not a good leader throughout this crisis. Our children ask, “How long?” We as parents, remind them, “Be patient, it’s all in God’s timing.” We might even correct them, “You shouldn’t whine or complain.” The young and immature are almost always impatient, but leaders shouldn’t be. When Aaron was called to lead, he failed miserably; he just went with the flow and followed the crowd rather than following the LORD.
Aaron asked for their gold, he fashioned it into a calf (the influence of Egypt) and told the people that this was the LORD. It’s not enough to get the name right, we must yield to the way God has revealed Himself to us, and a golden calf is not our God. It’s no wonder the people simply did what the world back then would do, they ate, drank, and “played” (it wasn’t football or Scrabble, if you know what I mean).
At this point, God tests and trains Moses; it’s as if God is ready to disown the people:
Exodus 32:7 (NKJV) “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.’”
Did you notice how God told Moses they were his people, whom he had brought out of Egypt? Justice and the letter of the law would have resulted in God wiping the people out; God could then start over with Moses (Exodus 32:10). Would he be interested in that?
No. Moses passionately interceded for the people, primarily because he was concerned with God’s reputation, with God’s glory. He began to reason with God (this is a good way to pray God’s will, be reasonable). “Lord, they’re Your people, whom You brought out of Egypt; what will the Egyptians say about You? What will they think? You couldn’t finish the job? And LORD, what about Your promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel?” Moses wasn’t interested in his own name, he was consumed with God’s name and how the world would perceive such judgment…so the LORD relented from judging the people.
We’ve seen it with Abraham who prayed for Lot, and we see it here with Moses praying for the people – it is mysterious, but may we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that prayer DOES make a difference…so keep praying (contrast this with Ezekiel 22:30-31).
Moses was not just disappointed with Aaron, he was angry (and rightly so)! – Psalm 7:11
God’s discipline is creative. I love the way Moses ground the golden calf to powder and made the people drink it (a lesson in sowing and reaping).
Leaders have a heavy responsibility, and Aaron was the one primarily responsible for all this:
Exodus 32:21 (NKJV) “And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”
If we don’t lead as leaders, the influences of the world, the flesh, and the demonic realm will have their way with the people. Crowd control can be challenging but we must “restrain” the people who are being pulled by their impatience and worldly influence, the latest trends of the world. It’s good to say “no” to our children, to set limits, guidelines, and parameters (Exodus 32:25).
Aaron bowed down to the people, but Moses bowed down for the people. Moses had been touched by God so deeply, that he was willing for God to blot out his name from the Book of Life, in order that Israel would be saved (Exodus 32:32), but God doesn’t do deals like that. Paul the Apostle had the same heart (Romans 9:3). That type of love is rare and radical, but I have a hunch that it came as a result of these men spending such quality time alone with the Lord, that they had developed a heart like His, willing to lay their lives down for the people. It’s been said a shepherd’s work can never be done without a shepherd’s heart. (John 10:11)
Peter’s denial of the Lord sobers me up to the reality that such a lapse of faith can happen to anyone. Peter loved the Lord, Peter was the one who swung the sword when the Temple Guards came to arrest Jesus, and Peter would eventually be a great servant-leader, even among the Apostles. If it can happen to him, it can happen to any of us!
Not to oversimplify things, but the Lord had warned Peter that Satan wanted to sift him as wheat (Luke 22:31), but Peter didn’t really listen, he was overconfident, claiming it could never happen to him. When Jesus commanded him to watch and pray, he only slept.
He swung the wrong sword, followed at a distance, warmed himself by the enemy’s fire, and now when push comes to shove, Peter actually denies he knows the Lord, three times – and he did so emphatically, with an oath, cursing, and swearing.
Luke tells us that at this time Jesus looked at Peter (Luke 22:61) Peter’s memory was jogged, he was deeply convicted, and he went out and wept bitterly. But God wasn’t done with Peter.
On the other side of the stands, the enemy had his way, all the way, he was having a field day with Judas, using a familiar mode of operation. First, Satan vigorously tempts us to sin, and then when we do, he overwhelms us with condemnation. That’s what happened to Judas, the blinders were lifted just enough for him to see the horror of his sin, he had betrayed an innocent man who was now about to die. Judas thought his way out was to give the money back, but the religious leaders told him, there’s no turning back, there’s no hope for you…and so, Judas did what 125 people do every day in the USA, he killed himself, this is the agenda of the adversary (John 10:10). Judas was strangled by Satan, gripped by guilt, and the devil will do that every time, if we allow him. He will tempt us to sin, and then when we fall, he kicks us when we’re down. Please know that guilt and condemnation come from the enemy and will drive a person away from God, but godly conviction comes from the Lord and will draw us back to Him (this would be Peter’s story eventually and gloriously).
Let’s learn and yearn never to deny the Lord, it’s very dangerous (2 Timothy 2:12), but if we ever do, may we return to Him – Jesus is always ready and willing to restore.
The religious leaders had come to a final, formal decision – Jesus was to be put to death. Since the Jews didn’t have the authority to administer the death sentence, they led Jesus away to Pontius Pilate.
As Jesus is sent to Pontius Pilate, it’s not Jesus who’s on trial, it’s the Governor. Jesus shared only what He needed to, and He shined the whole time.
The Psalmist encourages the people to sing praise to God. Music is beautiful and I believe its primary purpose is praise. It’s most important to sing to the Lord from the heart, but if we’re worship leaders, it’s good to cultivate those talents and gifts and to play skillfully (Psalm 33:3) (practice).
This Psalm is evangelistic in nature, inviting all the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world to stand in awe of Him (Psalms 33:8).
It’s critical and even encouraging to see that the counsel and plans of the nations will come to nothing, but the counsel and plans of the Lord will stand forever…as beautifully expressed in:
Psalm 33:11b (NKJV) “…the plans of His heart to all generations.”
Every word of these 4 verses is critical for us as Christians.
Proverbs 8:34 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.”
David Guzik, “Blessed is the man who listens to me: This blessing comes to those who not only listen to wisdom, but are willing to inconvenience themselves to seek her. They are willing to watch daily at her gates and wait at the posts of her doors. Their pursuit of wisdom is intentional, not accidental.”
Be blessed by watching and waiting. If we find wisdom, we find life and favor from the LORD. If we sin, we wrong our own soul – and if we hate wisdom, we love death. (wow)
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.