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 the Sunday Message; Exodus 32:7-12,14

Scriptures for this Sunday: Exodus 32:7-12,14

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010

Affirmation of faith # 881

Hymns:

UMH 605 – “Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters” (we will use melody UMH 384)

UMH 500 – “Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart” (verses 1, 4, 5)

This is a Fifth sermon in a series. Following links will take you to the messages upon which this sermon is built.

Sermon #1

Sermon #2

Sermon #3

Sermon # 4

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Last week we talked about what happened on Mount Sinai, we saw how rational, thinking individuals who knew better could be compelled to build a Golden Calf and worship it as an idol after experiencing the awesome presence and power of the Living God in their midst. We saw how their previous lives and their shared life experiences lead them to the habits and rituals that were not God centered, but imitated the idol worship that they saw in Egypt.

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Today, I want to continue talking about what happened at Mount Sinai; the only difference is that today I want to look at what happened through the eyes of Moses and through the lens of his life and his experiences of God.

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We know that Moses had strong identification with the Egyptian ruling class, he was reared at the Pharaoh’s court. We know that Moses had strong identification with the Hebrews, because as a baby and a toddler he was nursed and reared by his birth family.

We know that in his youth he killed an Egyptian overseer and that made him an outcast among the Egyptians and among the Hebrews, and he had to flee to save his life.

We know that in his exile, Moses developed a strong identification with the shepherd culture of Midian because he married a Midianite woman, started his own family and learned a lot from his father-in-law whom he held in high regard.

Although the Bible is not explicit about this, I think that up to this point Moses believed in the Egyptian pantheon of Gods: he was a polytheist. That would have been the reality of his life in the Pharaoh’s court. I am also fairly certain that he had some ideas of who the God of the Hebrews was because he was exposed to those ideas in his childhood, and he had a functional understanding of monotheism from the Cult of Rah (the Sun-god) that was practiced in some regions of Egypt at the time.

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That is why, when God reached out to Moses at the burning bush and sent Moses to Egypt to bring the Hebrews out of bondage, Moses asked an interesting question, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11) Compare that response to the Pharaoh’s response, when Moses approached him at first, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2).

Do you see the difference between these two responses? Moses was prepared to accept the fact of God’s existence, while Pharaoh would not even entertain the notion of only one God.

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A little side note; we know that Moses was in constant communication with God from the moment of the Burning Bush to the moment that Moses died. We see it in Exodus 4:24-26:

At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)

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We see it in Exodus 5:22 (“Moses returned to the Lord”), 7:1 (“Then the Lord said to Moses”), 12:1 (“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron”), we heard it in today’s reading (Exodus 32:7, 9).

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The point I am trying to make is that throughout his life, Moses was constantly growing in his faith and in his understanding of God. And today we heard that God actually offered to make Moses the new founder of the Nation of Israel instead of Abraham (Exodus 32:9-10).

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“I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

Can you imagine how tempting it was for Moses to say, “Yes! Finally my ship has arrived! All my hardship, and learning, and trying to figure things out, all my suffering will pay off, bald pastors with thick accents will preach about me, kings will write psalms about me, people will remember me, what a wonderful day it will be.”

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That brings me to my next question: when does someone becomes an adult? How do we know when someone is ready to take a position of responsibility? When do we know that someone is mature enough for the NEXT step in life and it is time to go…

The answer is when we take responsibility for our own actions in the environment that we are in.

{Proviso: not every environment is conducive to that because there is such a thing as evil. Examples: Holocaust, Tirany and Totalitarian Regimes}.

By his response to God on that mountain, Moses demonstrated that he was ready to be a leader. {Explain} That is why he led the Hebrews all through their years in the desert.

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We know the rest of the story. We know that after the dust settled, the Hebrews came to the Land of Canaan and were too scared to take it. They were too scared to take it in spite of God’s promise and presence because they had been raised to rely on someone else thinking for them and telling them what to do. That is why they had to stay out in the wilderness for the next forty years, in order to learn how to be free and to learn to rely on God and to learn to see God around them.

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Those were bloody and terrifying years. Look at Exodus 32: 33-35

The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.  Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

Throughout the Book of Numbers, the book that chronicles Hebrews’ wandering in the desert, we hear about people complaining and rebelling against God and how in their infighting with each other, thousands of Hebrews were perishing at each other’s swords. Those were bloody and terryfying years. (Examples are in Numbers 11, 14, 16, 20, 21). More than once Moses cried out to the Lord in supplication; I can imagine that more than once, he cried to Lord, “Lord I am tired, just take me now… I don’t want to do this anymore.”

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Throughout that wandering and out of this suffering and turbulence a new nation evolved. It was a slow and gradual process. A group of people with a shared history, that was not a dusty memory in a book but a reality that they lived through, emerged out of that time. It was a group of people that developed shared values (the 10 Commandments) and a shared understanding of what is right, true and beautiful. And when that happened, that is when the Hebrews entered Cannaan and it became their new home.

So what’s in it for us? What can we learn from all of that? What can we glean from the life of Moses and from the story of Exodus?

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The truth is that organizations do not change. People change, and in turn they change organizations.

That could be said about giant companies like Coca-Cola and GE and tiny churches like ours.

Life is something that is happening as we make other plans. We are always trying to get to the “Promised Land”; who among us does not dream or have hopes? Because we live in a fallen world, it is easy for us to become complacent, it is easy for us to get comfortable. That is our “Egypt.”

In order to get from our “Egypt” to the “Promised Land” (whatever we percieve it to be) we need to go into the desert.

We spend a lot of time in the desert, wishing that we were in the promised land. The educational process is a version of a desert. Starting a new company or a new job is a version of a desert. Starting a family is a version of a desert because after the honeymoon is over, it takes commitment to stay in love and be a family.

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Being in a desert challenges us to question what we do and why and whether there is a different way. What is your desert? Who are the people that helped you when you were in your desert(s)? Who are you helping to recognize that they are in the desert and how are you helping them to get through their desert(s)?

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4 responses to “Approximate Notes for the Sunday Message; Exodus 32:7-12,14

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

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

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

  4. 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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