Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 2 March 2014; Exodus 32:1-14

Scriptures for this Sunday:  Exodus 32:1-14

You can read it here: NIV2010

Hymns:

UMH555 – “Forward Through the Ages”

UMH378 – “Amazing Grace”

This is a fourth sermon in a series.

Link to the first sermon: Click here

Link to the second sermon: Click here

Link to the third sermon: Click here

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Today’s reading is set at Mount Sinai.

Last week we talked about Hebrews crossing the Reeds Sea and setting out towards Mount Sinai. It took some time to get there.

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We know that when they got there, Moses instructed the Hebrews to consecrate themselves by washing and fasting (Exodus 19:9b-25) and then he went up the mountain to receive instructions from God.

We know that the mountain was enveloped by thunder, billows of smoke and lightening (Exodus 19:16 – “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.”)

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That is where today’s reading starts. In Exodus 32:1-4 we hear:

1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us godswho will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

“As for this fellow Moses…?” Isn’t it kinnda strange?

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Last week we saw that leaving Egypt was not easy or pleasant. We know that Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh’s court nine times petitioning to let the Hebrews go and every time the Pharaoh refused and a plague would follow. I suspect that most of the Hebrews were not really involved in “negotiations.” From their perspective, Moses and Aaron went to talk to the Pharaoh and something unpleasant happened that added to their burden. Then they were instructed to have a feast, to put some sacrificial blood on the doorposts of their homes and they were spared the death of their firstborn. Egyptians came to them and urged them to leave (Exodus 12:31).

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We know that the Hebrews were oppressed in Egypt. That being understood, Egypt was their home, the land where they grew up, the place where they had families, celebrated accomplishments, buried their grandparents and parents for 400 years. We can understand their discomfort and even anger at being uprooted and anxious as they faced the uncertainty of the journey from Egypt to Mt. Sinai and then to the Holy Land. There was a tug-o-war going in their hearts between being persecuted and staying with what was familiar and habitual.

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So when Moses went up the mountain and seemed to disappear, they were scared, “As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him” Exodus 32:1).

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We heard that the Israelites made an idol and worshipped it.

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As we continue reading, we hear God speaking to Moses,

7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

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We know the rest of the story. We know that God even contemplated destroying the Hebrews and making Moses the new “Abraham,” thus establishing a new nation – we will talk about that next Sunday. In verse 14 of today’s reading we heard that in the end, God did not destroy the Hebrews. We also know the rest of the story: God took 40 years to renew the nation before bringing them into the land of Israel.

So what is our hope in all that? What can we take out of it and use in our daily lives?

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Who among us does not have irritations in our lives? Who among us does not have to drop everything once in a while and go do something else while the things that we set out to do are on hold? Our lives are not all that different from the lives of the Hebrews.

As we live our lives, different things come up that demand our time. The Hebrews lived in the land of Egypt, all of a sudden Hyksos showed up and demanded that the Hebrews make bricks.

Eventually Moses and Aaron show up, have some discussions with the Pharaoh, and the Hebrews’ lives became more and more complicated with each conversation and each plague that affected their surroundings. As we live our lives, things may happen halfway around the globe that will affect our lives. Who among us has not cringed at the thought of paying almost $4 for a gallon of gasoline?

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The Hebrews had difficulty recognizing what God was doing in the world around them because they were too busy making bricks. We are not all that different. Most of us want to live our lives, enjoy our families and when we die arrive at heaven and hear, “well done good and faithful servant.” At the same time all of us are affected by forces and influences beyond our control, just like the Hebrews were. We too have difficulty recognizing God’s presence around us because we are so busy making our “bricks.” Our “bricks” may look like an abundance of worldly possessions because we are programmed to shop till we drop (who among us does not waste time and energy maintaining too many clothes) or efforts to maintain our health or to lose weight. Most of us struggle with some form of “affluenza.”

That is why God created a church and gave us to each other. As a fellowship, as we share our testimonies and prayers, as we worship we listen to God as a community. We help each other to recognize God’s presence. We help each other and our neighbors. We help each other to be the best version of what God created us to be.

One example of that is that during the Holy Communion we collect a special offering that is spent to help our members and neighbors who find themselves in difficult situations, people whose lives were turned to “making bricks” and now they need some help getting back on their feet.

Another example is the ministry of our choir.

God is doing something new. I will not stand before you today and lie and tell you that I know what God is doing but I know that it is happening, God is in the business of renewal.

To celebrate that continuity, to celebrate that Presence, Jesus gave us the sacrament of the Holy Communion.

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6 responses to “Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 2 March 2014; Exodus 32:1-14

  1. Pingback: Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; Exodus 32:7-12,14 | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  2. Pingback: Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; Exodus 32:7-12,14 | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

  3. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 6 April 2014 | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  4. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 6 April 2014 | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

  5. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 13 April 2014; Palm Sunday | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  6. Pingback: Outline and Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; 13 April 2014; Palm Sunday | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

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