After Moses returned from Mount Sinai and the people of Israel recovered from his radiant appearance, Moses assembled the people and re-gave them God’s Ten Commandments and then shared with them God’s instructions for building the Tabernacle. Remember, these were instructions God gave Moses back in Exodus 29-31. However, the Israelites never got to hear these instructions because of their idol worship and rebellion.
Now, after a couple months and the death of thousands of their number, the Israelites finally get to hear the message God gave Moses for them. A message of hope and comfort, since God renewed His covenant with the people and promised to be with them through their journey. But God did ask one thing of the Israelites. He asked them to build Him a dwelling place and to contribute to it as their heart led them. Moses was not going to take a mandatory collection, but the people were to give freely and as they felt led. The result was an amazing outpouring of generosity from a previously rebellious people.
Today we’re jumping back to Moses and his second 40 days on Mount Sinai with God. If you remember back to chapter 32 and the golden calf situation, Moses had received two stone tablets which contained the Law of God, written by God himself. However, in a fit of anger over the people’s sin, Moses broke the tablets. Remember, even though Moses was a great leader and an example for us today, he wasn’t perfect. Therefore, God commanded Moses to re-climb the mountain and rewrite the two tablets for the Israelites.
Before we move on from Exodus 33, I want to spend some time looking at an important side character. We’ve seen him on the fringes. While not the main character yet, his name is scattered through the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. His name is mentioned seven times in the book of Exodus, mostly in obscure references that you would never notice. But I think that it is important to take a look at these references, because if we’re going to study how God shapes His leaders, we must look at the shaping of this man into the future leader of Israel. Therefore, today we’re going to look at the role of Joshua.
Last week, we explored the power and profound meaning of what it means to be known by God. We talked about how God honored Moses’ request because He knew Moses and shared intimate relationship with Him. Therefore, the LORD answered Moses’ intercession with a change of heart and showed Moses His glory while protecting him from the pure beauty and holiness of His presence.
After all that, I was prepared to move on from this topic; however, God stirred my heart and pointed out another perspective to this amazing encounter: Moses’ point of view. We never explored what prompted Moses to make that bold request to see God’s glory. So let’s do that today.
“When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
~Exodus 33:9, 11a
What a relationship Moses shared with God! The Bible tells us that he spoke with God face to face as a man talks with a friend. The intimacy of that relationship is hard to grasp! Obviously, Moses knew the Lord deeply, and more importantly was known by God just as deeply. Today, we’re going to explore the wonder of being known by God, the access that allows us to enter God’s presence, and the power we have as a known child of God.
The saga of the golden calf ends on a tragic note as the LORD sent a plague upon the people because of their sin. However, Exodus 33 opens with a beautiful reminder that even though the Israelites had failed, God is faithful to keep His promises and that His word remains true. Therefore, even though the Israelites experienced moral failure at the base of Mount Sinai, it was time to move on and march forward into the Promised Land under the blessing of God.
Moses interceded on behalf of the Israelites, and his prayer turned the heart of God. However, that didn’t mean that the Israelites didn’t have to face consequences for their sin. On the contrary, their sin brought death and other severe results. So as we look at the closing story of the Golden Calf, we are going to focus on three different people and their responses to God’s judgment: Aaron and his pitiful excuses, the sons of Levi and their willingness to serve the Lord at great personal cost, and Moses and his heart of sincere love and compassion for the Israelites.
Prayer is powerful. Prayer moves the heart of God. And prayer is often overlooked and rushed through in our modern, crazy life. However, as we find ourselves in a season of slowness due to COVID-19, we have the opportunity to grow our prayer life and learn from one of the greatest intercessors in biblical history, a man who not only prayed big prayers but moved God’s heart and saved an entire people from destruction.
The intent of this study through Exodus was to observe and learn about leadership and how God shapes His leaders. There have been many side trails and other topics we’ve explored as we’ve gone through the Scriptures; however, the goal has remained the same. And today, we’re going to see what godly leadership does not look like. We’re going to examine a leader who had no fear of God and who used his power to lead the people to death. That leader was Aaron.
Moses was with God on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights. During that time, he received from God all the laws and commands the new nation of Israel was to follow, and instructions on how to build a physical dwelling for the LORD their God. God also told Moses the men He had chosen to build the house and where to find them. Now, as we near the end of Exodus 31, the LORD gives Moses one final command for the Israelites.
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