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116 - Absence Makes the Heart Grow Harder

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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October 29, 2022 1:03 pm

116 - Absence Makes the Heart Grow Harder

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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October 29, 2022 1:03 pm

Episode 116 - Absence Makes the Heart Grow Harder (15 Oct 2022) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder. Is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink.

Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages. Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, when I say golden calf, what do you think of? Oh, it's bad. It's bad. How bad? It's very bad. We know that. Yes, we do.

Well, we probably don't know how bad. So today we're going to look at the golden calf in Exodus today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning one and all. This is Jim.

And this is Dorothy. And we're glad you're with us today. We hope you've been following with us as we've been going through the book of Exodus and a great story that starts with leaving Egypt and then establishing the nation out in the desert. And just to recap a little bit, we have been at the top of Mount Sinai with Moses and God for quite some time in 40 days and today we come down. If you want to see the beginning of that where he went up, that's Exodus 24. So since then, this has been a conversation between God and Moses about how the nation was going to go and some of the rules like, you know, the 10 words.

Well, not just some of the rules, the complete statement of God's character and what he expects from his people and how this newly birthed nation is going to operate, especially with God at the center of this nation as a people who live in his name. So that has been the discussion at the top of Mount Sinai with Moses and now he comes down from that to discover things have not gone quite as well. Well, God said to him, oh, we're done here. You better go down. You better go down. Yeah.

And you know, I just it just dawned on me. I remember back that when he went up, God said, don't worry about this. If something comes up down at the bottom where the people are, oh, yeah, they'll take care of it. They'll take care of it.

Boy, did they take care of it. Yeah. So today we come down and come to a very famous passage in Exodus, the golden calf. And it's funny because everybody, even people who've never read the Bible, I know this reference.

They know that all you have to say is, well, the golden calf and whatever it comes to mind probably came out of the movies somewhere. Yeah. But this is a very familiar story.

No, not good. Yeah. Very familiar. So let's just get into this familiar story.

That's the context. That's where we are. And Moses is carrying these great two stones with the 10 commandments etched on there written by the finger of God himself.

And we hit chapter 32. So if you want to follow with us, that's where we are. You want to read for us?

Yeah, I will. So when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, up, make us gods who will go before us. 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.

Do you want to stop there for a second? So what's their problem? Well, Moses has been gone a long time, 40 days and nights. And they probably feel like, well, maybe the jig is up. Maybe Moses is gone. I mean, after all the top of the mountains got fire on it. Maybe he's dead and God has forgotten us.

And who knows what's going on? So we're going to start from scratch. So they ask Aaron to make gods for them. But isn't it interesting how they refer to Moses? This guy, this man, he's the one that brought us out of Egypt. Well, you know what? Moses didn't do that.

God did that. As for this Moses, it's actually, I looked into that. It's kind of a rough way of talking about Moses. It's not respectful of all. It is.

It's totally disrespectful. Yeah. This man who brought us out of the land. And like you say, he's not the one who brought him out of the land.

God did. And he's very clear about this. But at the end of that verse one, we do not know what has become of him. So they haven't seen him yet.

Even though he had already told him, I'm going up to God and I'll come back to you. And he had done that a handful of times already. Yeah. But this is a longer stretch. Yep. Yep. That's exactly right.

In fact, I went back and checked it. I said that chapter 24 is where he goes up on the mountain. And on 24, it turns out, he says, I'm going to go up. God says, come up to me on the mountain. Wait there that I might give you the tablets of stone, the law, the commandments, you know, all that kind of stuff takes Joshua up with them. And then chapter 24 verse 18, Moses entered the cloud, went up the mountain and Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights. But they had already, I mean, Moses had already gone up and gotten words from God and brought them back down. The people had already pledged, not just once, but twice. Everything the Lord says, we will do. They said it back in chapter 19 and they said it again at this huge covenant ceremony in chapter 24, right before Moses went up. All the words God's given us, we will do.

And they did actually already have in verbal form the Ten Commandments before this writing on stone month on the mountain. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So their words didn't really, you know, they promised didn't last very long. Okay. Let's read on. Let's go on verse two. They corner Aaron.

So verse two. So Aaron said to them, take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters and bring them to me. So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, these are your gods.

Oh, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it and Aaron made a proclamation and said, tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings.

And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. So wait a second. What is with Aaron? Wasn't this gold meant for another purpose? Well, yeah, this is only a little bit of gold. This is just their earrings.

Yeah. But yeah, back, I remember in chapter 25, he says, you know, this gold and a whole bunch of other stuff. I mean, I had to go back and look, speak to the people of Israel and take a contribution.

Every man, you know, what moves him. And he said, bring gold and silver and bronze and went on for several verses, you know, at the end of that section in twenty five eight and let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell in their midst. So this is where this is supposed to go.

It's not supposed to go into a golden calf. Well, and he had already told them back in chapter 19. Now, you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make any graven images or worship or sacrifice very clear about pretty clear. And they had said, yep, we will or we won't. Yeah, yeah, very clear. So so what do you make of Aaron going along with this?

Boy, is this troubling or what? The question that rises in my mind is if, you know, way back in chapter four, when Moses had said, Lord, I don't speak, send somebody else. Right, right. If Moses had not refused God's assignment at the very beginning, when God said, OK, I'll send your brother Aaron and you're going to be the voice of God to him and he's going to speak for you. If Moses had not been hesitant and disobedient at that point, would this have happened? Well, it makes you wonder. It really does.

But it does. It does make you understand why God didn't put Aaron as the chief of this whole thing. I mean, Aaron's the older brother. Right. So and that should have been the case.

Right. But clearly, Aaron here is not leading. I mean, a real leader in this case would say, you know, he'd raise his hand, say, no, don't do this horrible thing. He's very easily manipulated.

He is totally bamboozled by the people. Yeah. He just he just goes along with him. You know, Moses wouldn't put up with this, but Aaron does. Well, and it's very specific in verse four that he received the gold.

He fashioned it with a graving tool. He made the golden calf and then they said, ah, now this is a God we can worship. Yeah. Right.

And then when Aaron saw their response to it, then he builds an altar and tells him, OK, tomorrow we're going to offer sacrifice. Like a priest would. Right. OK. But in a bad context.

But it's totally a God of the people's making. Yes. After after what they wanted. So he made the calf, but they anointed it God. Yeah. And he went along with it. He went along with it. He let him do it.

Yeah. In fact, it's funny that he he should he should have made the calf and then brought it out and said, behold your God or something like that. He doesn't. He just makes it and they declare it God. And then he goes along. Why does he make it?

Because he knew the commandment as well. Yeah. I don't know. It's it's hard. It's hard to. He was cornered.

Yeah. Well, you know, and a weak leader. It brings me back to the fact that there is, you know, you need to beware the voice of the majority many times just because everyone's saying it doesn't mean it's right. I mean, it's a single man standing out. He should have resisted it, but he didn't. And he just went along with the crowd. And then and then once they accepted his what he made, which there might have been a little bit of ego involved with that. Hey, nice calf, huh?

Yeah. OK, now let's make an altar. It's it's he's really wrapped up in a horrible way in terms of abetting what they did. Well, and I'm thinking back again to chapter four when God says to Moses, now he's going to be the voice. You're going to be the voice of the Lord to him. And he's going to be the voice to the people. And and here in the absence of Moses's voice, he just makes his own call.

He listens to the voice and he listens to the people. Yeah, that's a bad deal. That's a bad deal. So when they have their party, when they sit down to eat and drink and they rise up to play. Yeah. That is a riotous, drunken, mocking, sporting.

Yeah. Orgy. Well, it's yeah, there's a lot of sex that's in that word play right there. It's a drunken orgy is what it is. It's an unrestrained celebration of immoral activity. There we go.

Thank you very specific description. That's what it is. But this lack of restraint is what just really blows me away. Well, that's what comes up when Moses judges it later.

He says Aaron had let him get out of control. That's right. It's just it's just crazy kind of stuff.

You know, and this made me think this is a slight detour. But if you if you go back to the separation of Israel when it turned into the southern kingdom and the northern kingdom, you know, that's hundreds of years in the future. Yeah.

Yeah. Well, it turns out that that it turns out when you get to that point, remember, there's two competing kings. There's a king in the south, the king in the north, the king in the north, Jeroboam. He basically says, look, you know, we got to do something to keep people from going down to that temple.

Right. So what we need to do is make ourselves some golden calves and we're going to make we're going to make two golden calves. We'll put one in the far north of the kingdom and one in the far south of the kingdom.

And that'll keep people from feeling like they got to go down to Jerusalem, which is in the southern kingdom. So he makes two golden calves. And at that point, Jeroboam, this nasty king of the north says when the two two calves are presented, he says the same thing.

Right. This is the God that brought you out of Egypt. It's blasphemy. It's but because all through the Old Testament, God reminds Israel, I'm the God that brought you out of Egypt.

It's just total blasphemy. Oh, well, that's again, the people say, well, we don't know what happened to the guy that brought us out of Egypt. Right. Well, there's still smoke and fire on the mountain. Yeah, right.

Right. And in fact, the issue isn't whether Moses is gone. The issue is, is God gone? And so what they're really saying is the God that got about us out of Egypt has abandoned us out here. Now there's some commentaries that say that they didn't, they didn't take their worship of God and just place it on a replica, you know, this calf that the calf from Aaron's perspective was an addition to God. Like the calf was just a visible, I don't know if I go for that totally, but, but they, I mean, they worship the calf.

Come on. They worship the calf. And by the way, when you think of calf in your mind, don't think of a newborn calf.

What they would think of is a young strapling calf, like a three year old calf. The three year old mark is used a lot in its strength. Yeah.

New young strength, virile strength. So that's, that's what we're seeing. Well, let's move on. Verse seven, I'll read.

Okay. And the Lord said to Moses, go down for your people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. That's an interesting phrase, verse eight.

And they've turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They've made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, these are your gods. Oh, Israel, plural gods.

Yes. These are your gods. Oh, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. There's that blasphemy. And the Lord said to Moses, I have seen this people and behold, it's a stiff necked people. Now therefore let me alone that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them in order that I may make a great nation of you. Well, that ought to get our attention.

That should get our attention. But I roll back to that. They've corrupted themselves, which is a fascinating phrase because it's not as though Aaron corrupted them. They have corrupted themselves. And that just, that brings up a whole host of scriptures in my mind about how you can be led off into doing your own thing and thinking that your own thing is your best for you. And it's the freedom you look for.

And certainly it's, you know, if I thought of it, it must be good for me. And it's not, they corrupted themselves in the absence of God's influence, they corrupted themselves. And it happened in the turning aside from the God they knew the God who had brought them out to worshiping something of their own creation.

So it's a totally man-made God. And as you can see back in verse six, it's self-destructive even. So what they've gone off to is not good for them. So by way of talking about restraint, we'll get to this later in the chapter as well. It's an interesting thing that this kind of self-restraint is a good thing for us because what it does is it restrains an innate sinfulness that's inside of us, which is actually bent on our own destruction.

And you see that happening right here. Also, it says in verse nine, there are stiff-necked people. Yeah, stubborn. We don't use this phrase much, but if you get the picture of an ox or a horse that's got a rope in its mouth to steer it left and right, you actually pull its neck to the left, pull its neck to the right, that's what stiff-necked is. An animal that can't be steered left or right, they're a stiff-neck and they can't be steered.

So he's saying that they, you know, they set up for what they want to do and this is what they're doing. They're stiff-necked people. And I might mention also in passing, if you want to read a little commentary on the stiff-neckness, go to Deuteronomy nine.

Oh, I have that noted all over the place. Write that down someplace because it's an interesting commentary by Moses himself. And it starts off with God saying, you are a stubborn people and it ends with you are a stubborn people.

But he really starts off by saying, you know, I didn't bring you out of Egypt because you're a great people. No, you're a stubborn people. Right. So in fact, we're seeing it happen. Right. Yeah. Read that Deuteronomy nine.

You will laugh when you read this. Well, we'll get to that I think next week, but we really need to press on because what the Lord has just said to Moses is I'm going to transfer all the promises I made to this people and bring them to fruition through you. Which you could do. He could be like a new Abraham in a way. But well, that's important because that's where Moses is going to go when he implores the Lord and appeals to God on the basis of God's own promises and character. So we need to read on. Yeah, let's do it. Because Moses intercedes before he ever even sees the reality.

Yeah. Just on the basis of what God just told him. Let's intercede Moses verse 11. Verse 11, Moses implored the Lord his God and said, Oh Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say with evil intent did he bring them out to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster 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 offspring as the stars of heaven and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring and they shall inherit it forever. And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. Yeah. So Moses invokes the promise.

Well, yeah. The appeal that Moses makes to God. I was thinking about what basis does he appeal to God? Because he hasn't yet seen the reality of what the people have been doing.

No, not face to face. But he emphasizes God, these aren't my people. These are your people, right?

You brought them out. He emphasizes God's reputation. Yeah. And if you remember back in chapter nine, God had said to Pharaoh, now I'm letting you remain so that you can see my power and make my name known, right? So he appeals to him on the basis of God's reputation. And then on the basis of God's promise to Abraham, he says, don't go back on your promise to Abraham. Right. Which is why I said Moses would become a new Abraham.

Right. That would violate the promise to Abraham. To Abraham. Yeah. I mean, technically he could do it because Moses comes from Abraham, but still, you know what I mean? So God, in response to Moses intercession says twice, you relents.

He takes a deep breath and turns another direction. Yes. Yes.

Yeah. And I might add, you know, we talked about God's reputation and he uses a good argument. You know, what are the Egyptians going to say that you took them out of Egypt just to kind of wipe them out in the desert?

I mean, what will they say about, about God, not about the people. Right. And it recalls to mind several times I've read in the old Testament where God says, I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing this for my name, for my name's sake, his reputation. Yeah. And that's what he's saying, because I, you know, I don't want people to speak poorly of me because my heart needs to be reflected here. And in relenting this calamity, you're seeing a God who is long suffering and, you know, right.

And he actually turns toward compassion, toward compassion. Yeah. And in a real sense, he brought them out of Egypt, not because they were a stellar people to start with. I mean, he brought them out because he had promised Abraham he would.

Right. And so here he brings them out of Egypt. Um, and it's totally based on grace.

It's not based on merit on their part and here they fail. And again, we come back to grace, not merit on their part. So the promises fulfilled and it, and it goes forward and God's glory is still preserved.

And so that's a good thing. I might point out just a little technicality before we get off verse 14, the Lord relented. If you're reading on a King James, it's a poor translation because I pulled it up to see the translation in King James for verse 14 says, and the Lord repented of the evil, which he thought to do unto his people. That's not a good translation because he didn't repent of the, any evil repentance comes as a result source.

The source of it is sin. And then you repent. So that's just a poor translation. I would encourage you if you're really stuck on the King James, you know, always compare modern translations as well. You'll find that all the modern translations say he relented, which means he changed his mind, which actually is the core idea of repentance.

Anyway, when you change your mind, but not because of sin, God didn't relent that didn't repent because of any sin. So just, I just want to throw it in before we go on. Cause that's a super important point when we talk about Bible translations. Yeah. Thanks for that. That is important. But I just don't want to, we need to press on. We need to press on.

Okay. Times are wasted. So verse 15, I'll read from here. Verse 15, then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand tablets that were written on both sides on the front and on the back. They were written. The tablets were the work of God and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets. Well, when Joshua heard the noise of the people, as they shouted, he said to Moses, Hey, there's a noise of war in the camp.

But he said, you know, it's not the sound of shouting for victory or the sound of the cry of defeat, but it's the sound of singing that I hear. And we're going to stop there too. Now they're puzzled.

Yeah. So, you know, Joshua was somewhere halfway up the mountain. He didn't go all the way to the top with Moses.

He helped and he's somewhere halfway. So as he meets Moses coming down and he says, you know, there's something going on down there. Of course, Moses knows what's going on down there. Cause God has told him, but what perplexes Joshua is if it's a war sound, I don't hear victory or defeat sounds.

I'm hearing like party party. So he was really confused. He's, he's, he's really not in the loop. Like Moses has been talking to God while he's been up there.

Okay. Let's talk about the tablets because it's a good Bible study technique to notice when something is repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated. So tablets, tablets, tablets. And each time we get the word tablet here, there's something added to it. The tablets of the testimony, the tablets written on both sides, the tablets were the work of God and the writing was engraved on the tablets.

And Moses is coming down the mountain carrying these things, the testimony, the work of God and the writing of God engraved on these tablets. Yeah. Well, it says in second Corinthians three that in under the new covenant that the writing of God is not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of the living human heart.

Human heart. Yeah. So you know, here we have the original covenant written on this cold inflexible surface. Right.

Right. But it foreshadows the day when God will write on our living hearts and implant his spirit within us so that we will, we'll have his law within us. And we talked about that last week in Jeremiah 31, but I just wanted to point you out, point out to you this idea of being written on a tablet. It's been recorded. It's been written down. It's God's effort. It's God's doing, and it's written by his own hand. It's something very physical for them to see too. Right. It's an accommodation to them saying, look, this is what God says we need to do.

Here's the 10 words, the 10 commands. Well, ultimately it's going to be placed inside the arc of the covenant. Yeah. Yeah.

It'll have a permanent presence with them, but, but it's God's way of saying, I'm not just blowing hot air here. I wrote them down on a stone contract of sorts that can't be destroyed. Well, it's interesting on both sides on both sides. Right. Cause if you're going to engrave something in that age one, so you would plonk that stone down and work on the one side, but in order to turn it over and write on the other side, that's a significant piece of work. Yeah. But with something written in stone, it's important.

We still use that expression, don't we? Yeah. It's super duper important engraved on the tablet. It's lasting. Yeah. It's lasting.

You can't change it and there, you don't make mistakes. Right. And it, and it does yield kind of a weight to the importance of those things.

Well, literally a weight. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

So you know what is a, is a strange wonder. I've always wondered what happened to the pieces that we'll find that turns into in the next chat, the next part of the chat. Oh, we're going to know exactly what happens.

Yeah, that's right. So we're going to see that cause even though it's written in stone, uh, something happens. And if you know the story, he breaks it into pieces, he throws it well, and we're going to read it into the next and next week we'll talk about that.

So you'll want to stay tuned and come back and hear about that or read ahead or you can read ahead. You just start off in verse 19 and you can go forward from there. So I think what's fascinating as we sort of wrap up this first section of chapter 32 is, is Moses's role through all of this.

Um, you know, why did God allow the people of Israel to go through this delay time, this 40 days, knowing that they would, that they would go astray God, this is not a surprise to him, but what interesting is to ask yourself what has been the benefit to Moses in his growth and changes. He's seen this. He has the front row seat. He's the one who's being changed as a result of this. I want the Israel is too and Aaron will too, but Moses, Moses suddenly now is going to be thinking more and more like God. When we talk about the issues of sin and having God at the center of the community, he's, he's understanding that this is like not just important.

It's super important. So he's, you'll see him shifting. And when we go into the second half of his chapter, you'll see him shift even more to be thinking just like God. And I think that's, that's the important takeaway from what you see in this debacle. Well, that's what we see about Moses that God foresaw.

Yeah. I think what do we see about the people? They have a very short, very selective memory and that they corrupted themselves by turning aside from the God who had so clearly demonstrated his power and his purpose for them and worship to God of their own making. And, and the fact that he was always on their side, he's the one that got him out of the jail. He's the one that freed them. So why would they question that his ability? I mean, did he fail now? And he's not going to take us any further after he's part of the red sea and all that stuff.

Is God going to fail now? Well, it exposes the shallowness of their faith in this God. And also the, the, the huge corruption that they take with them in their hearts.

They're still carrying Egypt in their hearts. Exactly. We want a God we can see. That's right.

We don't want this God that's just thunder and smoke on the mountain. Exactly. And so their biggest problem, their biggest enemy is not really Egypt anymore.

It's themselves. And so we see all these changes coming about here. So this debacle has, has some upsides to it.

God allows it to happen for good reasons, but it's, it's horrendous nonetheless. Well, we want you to come back next week. We'll, we'll look at the second half of this chapter and the confrontation when Moses has an eye to eye face off with the people and with Aaron. Yeah. So come back next week on More Than Ink. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content.

To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, It was natural. It was natural. That's what that was.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-08 18:43:43 / 2022-11-08 18:50:46 / 7

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