I had it all worked out in my head – what I would write about the Israelites’ disobedience and what it signified, what Aaron’s cowardice meant along with a paragraph or two showcasing his poor decision-making skills (methinks he could have used a life-coach), but as has happened so often since I began my journey through Exodus, instead my thoughts turned to this question: how is this applicable to me, today? Or, put another way, what lesson is there in this passage for me? And no, the lesson is not a history lesson on the misbehaviour of the Chosen People. Don’t get me wrong, history lessons are useful and all that (blah blah learn from the past to navigate the future blah blah), but this is so much more than just a history lesson. There are important relevant lessons to be learned here. Stay with me. Get comfy, this is a long one.
For the TL;DR crowd: 1. Remember what God has done for you and give Him the glory. 2. Judge not so that ye be judged not. 3. Prayer changes things. 4. Stand in the gap.
Lesson #1 –
How quickly we forget
I know I can’t be the only one who ‘forgets’ what God has done for me. I’m sure I’m not. As long as everything is hunky-dory I, for the most part, go about my merry way without thought of what I’ve been rescued and saved from. I’m not even talking about the unknown things like the car accident I didn’t even know would have happened if I’d left home a few minutes earlier, i mean real things that actually happened that I’m aware of: like the time I was almost attacked but somehow managed to scream so loud that neighbours heard and *gasp* came to my rescue. Or the time I almost died in labour. Both these incidences actually happened, and both times I can think of no explanation except the hand of God. There are many more such instances, some more and others less hectic, but I know you have your own examples of times when God came through and showed His power on your behalf. And yet, we forget. We say ‘what’s my name?’ and flick our lapels when the results come, completely forgetting the frantic prayers prayed in the hours and minutes leading up to the exam and while waiting for the results. My, how quickly we forget. I resolve to do better, to give God glory. What about you?
It seems Aaron was a coward, but was he really? Are you sure? After all, he proclaimed that the feast of the golden calf was a feast to the Lord. Could it be that rather than portraying cowardice he was just misguided? How often have I done things thinking the end justifies the means, and expected and hoped that my deeds would find favour? How often have I made excuses for my behaviour and wanted others to understand my rationalisations? Aaron thought it didn’t matter if there was a graven image before him as long as he said it was to the Lord. Tell me you’ve never done something you knew was dodgy but went ahead anyway because it was ‘for the Lord’. Treated someone badly or unkindly and used your bible to justify your behaviour? I used to know a certain young man who used to get fake doctor’s notes so he could attend church even when he was on call. He rationalized the lie thus: ‘God wants me to be in this ministry…’ I don’t know how God views such things,
i believe it’s on a case by case basis but I do know this: I have no way of knowing what is going on with someone else and so the best thing I can do is mind my own business and run my race as best as I can.
Prayer changes things
What if I put it to you that God spared the Israelites because and only because Moses asked him to?
Exodus 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
Moses didn’t let God alone, instead he interceded for the people and by him they were spared God’s wrath. Well, some were killed but you know what they say about bad company. The point is, God said ‘I will do this’ but Moses kinda plucked on His sleeve and said ‘please don’t’ – and He didn’t. So the big question is: did God lie or did He just change His mind? Can God change His mind? Calm down, take a deep breath. See, the thing is, God moves in response to prayer and in accordance with His laws. So, there was sin there and the reward for that sin was clear but instead Grace was extended by virtue of Moses’ intercession. Had Moses not prayed, things would have followed a different course and who’s to say what that story would look like? Point is, the prayer of one man changed the course of history. Think about that the next time you’re feeling ineffective. You know what the bible says about the fervent effective prayer of a righteous man.
You can stand in the gap
Closely related to the lesson above, lesson no.4 is something we really ought to remember about praying for others. You know, because what Exodus 32:11-13 shows is that we can and should have faith that God will move on others’ behalf if we pray for them, whether they are good people or not, because He does. Unsaved family and friends – pray for them. People who need healing, believers or not, pray for them. Stand in the gap for them. Be the bridge between them and Grace. Of course I know this easier said than done but the point is it can be done.
The people you are praying for don’t need to know that you are doing – what do you want, a cookie? I always hate it when people say ‘I’ll pray for you’ when talking to nonbelievers. What are you trying to do, scare them? What? Why announce that? But I digress. Where was I? Standing in the gap isn’t just praying for others, it’s also about loving them enough to bear/share the consequences of their deeds, insofar as is possible. Difficult to swallow, huh? I know. But wasn’t Moses prepared to do that for the Israelites? And isn’t that what Jesus did for us? And aren’t we all about being Christ-like and WWJD?
I’m not a visual learner; please forgive the lack of pictures. Also, it’s 2.55am.