Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 15 September 2016


By Jim Jordal

 Moses begged Yahweh his God, and said, "Yahweh, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, that you have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, 'He brought them forth for evil, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the surface of the earth?' Turn from your fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.'" Yahweh repented of the evil which he said he would do to his people.                                                           Exodus 32:11-14 WEB

This portion of Scripture was part of the Common Lectionary readings for several Sundays ago. I thought it so meaningful in regard to comprehending God’s workings today that I felt we should consider it more deeply today.

As you may remember, the Children of Israel under Moses had just escaped with God’s help from their 400-year experience of slavery in Egypt. Moses had just ascended Mt. Sinai to receive the law of God. When he delayed his return the people became fearful in the absence of strong leadership and so commissioned a compliant Aaron to gather gold and make a golden calf that they could worship and depend on for leadership. Up on the mountain God spotted this sacrilege and told Moses to hasten down to restore orderly worship. As Moses left for the plain God indicated his intention to destroy the faithless people and to turn Moses into the great nation he had earlier offered.

The remainder of chapter 32 continues the account.  Moses was made of sterner stuff than Aaron was.  As you remember, Moses was angry enough at the people’s grievous sin that he dashed the tablets containing God’s commandments on the ground, breaking them. He also later reproved Aaron, asking him what the people had done to him to result in such grievous sin. Aaron replied with the common language of weak-minded leadership, “We don’t know what has happened to Moses…so I told them to bring gold…which I cast into the fire, and this calf came out.” So he excused himself and blamed the people. Moses also had courage enough to call for a showdown as to who was on the Lord’s side and who was not. This resulted in the deaths of 3,000 people as swords replaced reason. Such is the outcome of irresolute leadership and ignorant unstable people.

Moses then interceded to God for the people, offering himself as a ransom for their great faithlessness. He did what other prominent leaders like Daniel and others have done as he “stood in the gap” between a petulant God and his irresolute sheep.

Reminding God concerning his promises is a powerful tool of true leadership. It stays the punishing hand of God when justice and righteousness are so fragrantly violated as to cause God to decide that enough is enough and to destroy his people.

 Another aspect of strong spiritual leadership is to speak directly to God concerning the possible effects of his actions upon not only his people, but even upon his apparent enemies. Since God’s people must often live in contact with unbelievers and enemies of God, it is vital for leaders to consider what might happen to his people should God act against present evil in other groups. That concept is important for us to remember today as God shakes the earth’s institutions and structures preparatory to his coming kingdom.

Strong spiritual leaders also have the capability of perceiving centuries ahead the long-term effects of present acts of God. The Exodus experience was the paradigm of future deliverance from many adverse conditions for God’s people. It reaches ahead for sometimes thousands of years to set the conditions for other forms of deliverance. The phrase “After the Manner of Egypt” then becomes the descriptor for present deliverance by God.

These Old Testament accounts are given for our learning and encouragement (Romans 15:4 and I Corinthians 10:11). In out eagerness to present the “gospel,” let’s not forget what supports the gospel---the remainder of Scripture.