Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When God Shows Up

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, February 12, 2013:  Exodus 34:1-35:9

The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.  Exodus 34:1 (NIV)

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”  Exodus 34:5-7 (NIV)

Moses had literally broken the law.  When he had come down from the mountain and seen the sin of God's people and their golden calf, he had burst into anger.  In rage, he had hurled that which is holy down to the ground breaking the two tablets into pieces (Ex. 32:19).  That's what our anger does.  It never corrects what went wrong.  It only makes a bad situation worse.

When we think about Moses on Mount Sinai we usually think about how God gave him the Ten Commandments.  But there is far more to this event.  In fact, no sooner are the Ten Commandments given that they are broken -- literally.  God's law meets man's sinful nature at the foot of the mountain.

Rules never transform us.  No doubt, we need the rules because there must be a standard.  There must be a high aspiration toward which we grow.  But, what do you do when you keep breaking the rules?  Most of the time, we just try harder.  That, in essence, is the nature of RELIGION.  Man working hard to keep the rules.

Now once again, the rules aren't bad.  They just reveal our badness.  When God's standards collide with our flesh, the result is always shattered tablets of stone.

Far more than just the giving of the law took place at Sinai.  The bigger event was God Himself coming down.  GOD SHOWED UP!  He not only gave the law, He came Himself.  In so doing, He proclaimed His name.  He declared His nature.  He revealed Himself to Moses face-to-face.

Paul explains this in Romans 8 when he says, "What the law could not do in that it was weak according to flesh, God did by sending His own Son" (Rom. 8:3).  We were not built for rule-keeping.  We were built for relationship.  One moment in God's presence can transform us forever.  One glimpse of His glory will melt our hard hearts and break our stubbern wills.

Note the transformation in Moses.  One minute he is raging in anger and hurling the law at wicked people.  The next, after an encounter with God, HIS FACE IS SHINING!  Here's the lesson:  look at man and you will get angry; look at God and you will shine.

Consider again the words of Paul.  He wrote about this very passage in Exodus.  He says there are two ministries:  one of condemnation and the other of righteousness (II Co. 3:9).  Here's the invitation:  Just as Moses looked into the glory of our great God, we are to do the same.  And "we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being TRANSFORMED into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (II Co. 3:18)

As each of us run into the brick wall of our own depravity and sinful flesh, may we turn our eyes away from who we are and fix them on WHO HE IS.  He is our great and gracious God, full of compassion, abounding in love and faithfulness.  When I look at Him, I am changed.

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