Monday, August 05, 2013


Three months after the Israelite left Egypt, they must still have been buzzing about their deliverance. Then God did something they did not expect. He took Moses up into the mountains for forty days. That act did not make sense to the people. To make matter worse, God issued a clear but seemingly inexplicable instruction. While He met with Moses at Mount Sinai, He told the people in no uncertain terms, "Take heed to yourselves, that you do not go up to the mountain or touch it's base; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 19:12). Furthermore, God did not give the people any details about His meeting with their leader, Moses.
How would Moses' absence affect the people? God did not say, but He expected the people to trust Him. God's silence is our opportunity to learn to trust Him. But these people, who had seen so much evidence of God's power, chose to trust themselves.
"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, 'Come, make us gods that shall go before us; 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 31:1 NKJV)
The people's impatience and disregard for God's authority leads to false worship. In essence, Aaron and the children of Israel made a molded calf, pointed to it, and said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4). Now, where did the Israelite get the idea of making the image of a golden calf? It is interesting to note that two popular Egyptian gods, Hapis (Apis) and Hathor, were thought of as a bull and a heifer. No doubt the Israelite, fresh from Egypt (type of the world), found it quite natural to make a golden calf to represent the God that had just delivered them from their oppressors. And they called this calf the name of the Lord, there by reducing God's glory to the level of man-made idol!
We are often guilty of trying to make God in our image, molding him to fit our expectations, desires and circumstances. When we do this, we end up either worshiping ourselves or creating false images (idols) rather than worshiping our God. What is our favorite image of God? Does the image incorporates some of the worldly elements? Do we need to destroy it in order to worship our immeasurably true and living God?

As a result of false worship, God judged His people because they lost respect for Him in their worship. They experienced literal judgement when three thousand people died because of their willful sin (Exodus 32:28). Further, the Israelite also experienced spiritual judgement.
"And the LORD said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you ... so the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made ... Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt ... for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 32:33 - 33:3)God now referred to the Israelite as "the people whom you (Moses) have brought out of the land of Egypt." God did not want to be associated with them. Rather than going with them into the promised land, God said He would send an ordinary angel to accompany them. The people had forfeited God's presence and power. The lesson of this account is that God separates Himself from false worship. He separated Himself 
then, and He will separate Himself today. When we yield to human desires in our 
worship, and thus detract from His glory, we forfeit God's power and presence. And when that happens, we are forced into a cycle of using human means - whether music or polished oratory or rituals or traditions - to attract the people. Then our worship can go through the motion WITHOUT GOD'S PRESENCE!

What response does God expect when worship becomes untrue and governed by human methods and desires? Those engaged in such worship must (as did the children of Israel),repent and then separate from their former associations. 
"Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses." (Exodus 33:7-9)

Moses pitched his tent outside the camp! In doing so, he took the initiative to separate from the people who were not glorifying God in their worship. It was a tent set aside for a special purpose, a purpose that caused Moses to call it "the tabernacle of meeting."The result of Moses' act was that his faithful testimony brought others into a right standing with God:
a) The people saw God was at Moses' tent of meeting
- Whenever Moses went to the tent, God's glory fill the tent.
- Does our own worship give similar evidence to the people back at the camp that God is with us?
b)  Moses' separation encouraged the people to give the Lord true worship
 "All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door." (Exodus 33:10)
- When we take our stand for reverent worship of God, those whom God is dealing with will respect our stand.
In our own day, worship practices are often driven by the goal of appealing to the people's desires. Are we willing to pitch our tents outside the camp, so that others will be encouraged toward the Essence of True Worship?

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