Good Monday Morning to you! Today's section are some of the most painful and challenging texts in the Scripture including the adultery of the Israelites, God's anger, Moses anger, the breaking of the original tablets, and the consequence of the adultery- Moses' directive for the sons of Levi to kill idolaters among them- resulting in the death of about three thousand men. As we approach challenging text it is helpful to remember we need to read it in context of the culture it was written in, this doesn't mean it doesn't apply to us but rather it sheds light on why events unfold in the way they do. Read this text prayerfully, consider the implications, allow the tragedy to wash over you, ask questions, wrestle through it- God is big enough for your questions.
grace + peace,
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Have you ever received a consequence for a wrong that you have committed? What did you learn from the consequence?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.
DISCOVER [Exodus 31:1-18]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
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 shall 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.” 2 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.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 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, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 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.” 6 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.
_ In vs. 1 what do we find caused the people to ask Aaron to make gods for them?
_ What does vs. 2 show us about Aaron's sin tendencies?
_ What did he fashion in vs. 4?
_ In vs. 4 what lie do we hear the nation believing and how does Aaron the priest respond?
7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 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.” 11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O 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? 12 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. 13 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.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.
_ In vs. 7-14 what happens in the dialogue between Moses and the Lord?
_ In vs. 11-12 how does Moses appeal to the Lord?
_ What is the Lord's response in vs. 14? What does this teach us about his nature?
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. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it. 21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall 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.’24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” 25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord's side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.” 30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” 33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. 34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” 35 Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made. 33.1The Lord said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ 2 I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” 4 When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’” 6 Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
_ Vs. 15-33.6 are some of the most challenging in the Scripture including Moses anger, the breaking of the original tablets, and Moses' directive for the sons of Levi to kill idolaters among them- resulting in the death of about three thousand men.
_ A careful read of vs. 25-29 in the original language we learn that the Levites are not arbitrarily putting to death people in the camp but rather searching through the camp to kill those who (are committing and) have consciously decided to continue to commit adultery. Idolatry is one of the most severe sins because it is in essence giving allegiance to someone other than God himself. Idolatry is the sin that lies beneath every sin and if one takes idolatry to its natural end, it leads to death because the person who has rejected God through the course of life finds himself with out God, in eternal death, at the end of his life. Therefore this act is an act of divine judgement, a tragic moment in the history of Israel where people lost their lives because they rejected the Lord as their God.
+ HOW am I compelled to respond to what I learned today with a simple step of action? (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Am I taking the holiness of God serious in my life?
_ Are there any area's of adultery in my life that I need to turn from? What does turning from these area's of adultery look like?
+ WHO are you walking with that you might pass along or encourage what you learned, with today? (e.g., your family around the dinner table, a friend, co-worker or neighbor you are walking with to discover the message Jesus)