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(Exodus 21-32) Rebels, Cowards, and a Golden Calf

(Exodus 21-32) Rebels, Cowards, and a Golden Calf

by Stephen Davey Ref: Exodus 21–32




(Exodus 21-32)



We continue our study through the Old Testament.  If you are new to Colonial Baptist Church, we began, sixty sermons ago, studying through the Bible.  And that has brought us up to Exodus, chapter 20, and then we kind of went in to I Corinthians, chapter 13, and then took some time out for observing Passover and, of course, Easter.  Now we return.  And I would remind all of us, since it has been almost a year and a half, that we are studying the entire Bible because of two basic principles.  Paul wrote his son in the faith, Timothy, and he said that, “All scripture is given by inspiration”.  Principle number one, we believe that all of scripture is authoritative, it is all inerrant, it is all from God as the source.  Because of that, we will study all of it.  And he goes on to say that it, “is profitable” - it is profitable for every man - “unto all good works.”  So we believe that, not only is all of scripture entirely true but, we believe that all of scripture is entirely profitable.  The burden of proof, men and women, lay upon us to discover its profitability.  If we come to a passage, like Exodus, chapter 20, and it may not strike us as very profitable, it is up to us to study and discover.  And so, as we started those sixty sermons ago going through the Old Testament, we are persistent because we believe, it is not only God’s word, it is not only entirely true but, we also believe it is entirely profitable. 

Now, we studied the Ten Commandments and that leads us up to what is now considered “the Book of the Covenant.”  Now the passage of scripture, chapters 23 and on, seem to be hard to understand and rightly so.  In fact, a lot of what we are studying is not applicable to the New Testament believer, literally, in it’s literal form.  And that is, God is dealing with the New Testament church in a way somewhat differently than He dealt with the nation Israel.  And yet, there are principles to be discovered here that are timeless.  And that’s why the writer of the New Testament scripture said that it is, “all . . . profitable”.  There are timeless truths that are to be applied to our lives today. 

Now, it’s an interesting note to realize that before 1902, most modern critics thought that Exodus, chapter 20, through Exodus, chapter 23, they believed that that was written at a much later time or closer to our time period.  Because they believed that there was no way primitive man, that they consider evolving, could have such a highly formalized and structured system of law.  And I said until 1902 because in 1902 they discovered what now anybody studies in school, known as the code of Hammurabi, that was a seven foot statue that gave over 300 paragraphs of formulated law related to social and civil and moral behavior.  And that code precedes Moses by 300 years.  Then they discovered another code written by the Assyrians on clay tablets that precedes Moses by 1,000 years.  So they put that ridiculous thought to rest.  With or without that evidence, this is written from God.  And we know that man is not evolving nor is man’s social structure evolving into a better state or a more intelligent state.  We believe that the law of entropy affects society as well, in that, men become worse, they do not become better.  Men become less intelligent, they do not become more intelligent.  It is the law of sin that decays everything on our planet, including ourselves.  So what we’re looking at is, an incredibly intense formulation of law that God would use to tell Israel, “Here is how you are to live.” 

Now from these passages of scripture, I want to give you three timeless truths.  You’ll find notes in your welcome folder, if you care to follow along.  Number one, God is committed with establishing justice.  Turn to chapter 22, verse 5, we’re just going to take a few out and look at them.  Chapter 22, verse 5, says, “If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.”  Verse 6, “If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing grain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make restitution.”  You read those and they make absolute common sense.  It is a just system, it is a fair system.  Now, in this day, there were not fences and so the animals grazed where they would and you were to take care of your animal so that he didn’t go over and eat food or grain or whatever that belonged to another.  You start a fire and it spreads and it destroys the property of your neighbor, you’re to make restitution.  You’re not to go to court and declare that it really wasn’t your fault and that your neighbor shouldn’t have had his grain there and, if he had been a little more careful, it wouldn’t have burned and you know how it goes.  No, back then it was real simple.  And, by the way, in the kingdom it’s going to be real simple as well, because God will rule with the same equity and the same justice. 

There is another principle and it is this, God is intent on developing faith.  Look at verse 10 of chapter 23.  God is intent on this “Book of the Covenant” to establish faith, to develop faith.  Look at verse 10, “And you shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow”.  Now we could stop here because, what He is saying is, “I want you to plant and to harvest for six years and, as you know, on the seventh year you are to let it alone, you’re to let it lie dormant or fallow.”  And God would say, later, that HE will allow the grain to grow on the seventh year, you just had to trust Him.  Now that would be awfully hard for a farmer to trust God, who had been planting for six years and now, he is supposed to stop and God will provide.  What’s God doing?  He is desiring to establish, by this “Book of the Covenant,” faith in Him.  And an indirect result of that faith would be compassion.  Look at the last part of that verse, “so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat.  You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”  So a indirect result of this was that the poor could take and eat freely. 

There is a third, before we go on, and that is this, God is very serious in this “Book of the Covenant” with sustaining fellowship among the Jews.  Sustaining fellowship.  Look back up to verse 4 of chapter 23.  I like this one because I read through and tried to pull out some to develop principles for today.  Verse 4 says, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him.”  Now you remember an ox or a donkey, in that day, is as important as your set of wheels is today.  They depended on it, they needed it.  And so, if you discover that your, note - “enemy’s ox”, it’s your enemy’s, you shall return it to him.  Look at verse 5, “If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load,” - you’re to walk by it and say, “Serves you right,” oh, excuse me - “you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.”  And what I like about this is, God is instituting, through this Covenant, laws that would keep fellowship, it would sustain it, it would engender it.  He doesn’t have to worry about you helping your friends, you’re going to do that.  “Oh, this is so-and-so’s donkey.  Well, I’m going to leave right now and go return it.”  No, it’s your enemy’s.  And what would happen, just imagine with me.  Here you come back to your enemy’s house, you enter his property with his donkey and you say, “I saw it wandering and I want to return it to you.”  Just how much of an enemy can you have when that happens?  No, God was putting in to effect laws of reconciliation where, by serving your enemy, you no longer have an enemy, you develop a friend.  And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is timeless.  It’s for today as well. 

Now, in chapter 24, verse 3, Moses comes down from the mountain.  He reads, before the people, all of this Law, which includes, by the way, the Ten Commandments, that’s part of “the Book of the Covenant.”  Verse 3, “Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said,” - note the words “all” - “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!”  Now you’re going to remember that because later that’s going to be significant.  They hear the Law, they hear the ordinances given and, with ONE voice, they ALL, the entire nation, millions of people, say, “We will obey ALL of it.”  And so the Covenant then is ratified there, just a little distance away from Mount Sinai where the cloud of God is hovering in it’s majesty. 

Let me give you two things before we go any further.  These are not in your notes but I think they’re important.  I was talking to some gentleman yesterday, who has been a student of this as well, and he reminded me of a key point.  And let me give you two thoughts.  First of all, the overall importance of this “Book of the Covenant” is that God’s holiness is revealed.  If you took time, men and women, to read “the Book of the Covenant,” you’d come away with it thinking, “Man alive, God is demanding that which is His own attribute, purity, holiness.”  And I think that was one of the primary reasons it was given, to establish, to reveal the holiness of God.  But secondly, to reveal the inability of men to keep it.  You see, it is this Law that will condemn.  And as you read these laws, if you were an Israelite, we have laws given to us today, by the character of God, through His scripture, we cannot keep.  And so law does one thing, it reveals His holiness.  And secondly, it reveals our inability and the necessity of someone to pay for the guilt of us breaking the Law.  What a tremendous backdrop the book is because He will move from this book into giving Moses the directions to build the tabernacle.  What is the tabernacle?  It is the system whereby their sins are covered, it is the sacrificial system.  And how timely.  So, the Covenant then is ratified. 

Now, I want to show you what happens at the very end of Moses’ trip to the mountain.  Turn over to chapter 32.  The Law was given.  The Law was accepted.  And the Law was broken.  Chapter 32, verse 1, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down” - he’s been up there, by the way, on the mountain for forty days - “from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” 

Now they are about to break what they have just pledged with their lips.  Hold your finger there and turn back to chapter 20.  Chapter 20, this is part of “the Book of the Covenant.”  We refer to it as the ten laws or the ten words, the Ten Commandments.  Look at verse 3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” - period.  Verse 4, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God”“And all the people answered with one voice,” - with unanimity - “and said,” - “We will obey.”  Now Moses has been away for forty days and they’re saying, “Let’s make an idol.” 

I want you to notice, not only their unbelief but notice, the cowardice of Aaron.  Verse 2, “And Aaron said to them, ‘Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’”  Now this is interesting, the word “ring” could be translated “amulet.”  This indicates that the people have already dabbled.  An amulet was this superstitious thing, this thing that they probably got from Egypt.  They believed that, by wearing this ring or this ornament or this necklace or whatever, that danger would be kept from their lives.  It was a lucky rabbit’s foot that they believed in.  And I believe, with many expositors that I have read, that what Aaron is doing here is trying to stall.  He is thinking, in his own logic, that, “If I tell them to give up their lucky rabbit’s feet, that they will say, ‘No, you’re asking too much,’” and he will keep them from idolatry.  But you notice what it says, almost without a hiccup, it says, verse 3, “Then all the people tore off the gold rings” - “Hey, I don’t need this.  Here,” and, -“brought them to Aaron.  And he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf” - a solid gold, perhaps, calf.  The word “calf” there, is the word “egel,” which, literally, means “a young bull in it’s first strength.”  This goes all the way back, not to Egypt, you see, the people of Israel had seen the Egyptian gods fall by the plagues of God.  This has to go back earlier.  This goes back to the Canaanite practice of bull-worship, Baalism.  They believed that the bull represented the greatest strength in the universe, this was the greatest power.  So the people, obviously, wouldn’t settle for anything less than that which represented the greatest power in the universe.  And so Aaron shaped a young bull, perhaps three years of age.  Then he says, verse 4, “This is your god,” - perhaps meaning a representation of Yahweh - “‘O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’  Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to’” - Yahweh - “the Lord.”  Now this is interesting, I think Aaron is not being caught up in the idolatry.  And so, what he is trying to do is, take something evil, surrounded by something good, and hopefully keep his life.  So what he says, in his mind is, “We’re going to make a bull that represents divine power and, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to” - “Yahweh.”  That is, “We’re still going to recognize Yahweh but we’re going to recognize Him through this calf.”  This calf could have been as tall as myself.  We get the idea it’s a little bitty thing.  No.  All of the millions of people gave their gold rings.  You melt those down and you’d have a calf or a bull of great size.  I think Aaron, he’s fudging, he’s a coward.  He should have stood and said, “You remember we declared we would obey the Law.  That we would not make an idol that represents Yahweh.”  Because of his cowardice, they are now in deep trouble.  And even Aaron cannot stop it now. 

Look at verse 6, “So the next day they rose early” - boy, they can’t wait - “and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”  The word “play” there, in the Hebrew, means “caress.”  It is a word that refers to physical intimacy.  Men and women, as hideous as it is to think, these people, who forty days earlier said, “Oh God, we will follow all of the ordinances that you have given us,” now they are involved in an incredible orgy outside, just distant from that mountain, where they could still look up and see the cloud of God, they’re engaged in revelry before the golden calf.  Verse 9, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people.  Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them;’” - note this - “and I will make of you a great nation.” 

Now you’re Moses, okay?  You have been belittled by these people.  You have been slandered by these people.  They have refused to follow you.  You have had it up to here with them.  And now, God says, “Say, Moses, let My anger burn against them and I’ll wipe them out and I’ll make of you another great nation.  I’ll start all over again.”  What would you say?  “Let’s start right now.”  But, what we’re going to discover of Moses, is a man of incredible patience and compassion.  Think about it.  All those parents who came by here with these two-year-olds, these one-year-olds, you have a thirteen-year-old, a sixteen-year-old, you have a spouse, and maybe, because of all of the frustrations of your life, you are right now having it right up to here and God says to you, “I’ll take them away and I’ll start it off brand new, fresh slate.”  Every parent in here, you know, don’t look at me like that.  You’d say, “Let’s do it.  Right now.”  And yet, Moses intercedes, “entreated the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why doth Thine anger burn against Thy people whom Thou hast brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?’”  Look at verse 13, “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants to whom Thou didst swear by Thyself, and didst say to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants’” - this is the Abrahamic Covenant.  Verse 14, because of Moses intercession, it seems, “the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”  Because Moses goes before God with great compassion and he says, “No, I want these people.  I don’t want to throw in the towel on them.  I will continue following them and yet, I will pray.”  In fact, he will say later, “If possible, blot me out and keep them alive.”  Can you believe that?  What compassion. 

Now, verse 14 is a problem because we think, “Uh-oh, God changed His mind.”  The ten cent word for this is anthropomorphism or anthropopathism. That’s impressive isn’t it?  I can’t say that myself.  You think, “I came to church to learn that?  I’m leaving.”  What that means is that we view God through human terms.  That is, we think of God and we write about God as if God were like us.  Let me try to explain it this way.  You saw my wife come up with that two-and-a-half year old girl.  And she’s going to turn 13 eventually.  I can’t stop it.  And she’s probably going to ask me, “Dad, can I date?”  And I’m going to say, “No.”  Now, if you were an outside party and you heard that conversation, you could leave with the attitude that my mind is made up, she will never date.  But I know, in my mind, that when she turns 20 she may be able to date.  And if you came back later and you saw her as a 20-year-old, dating, you’d think I changed my mind.  I knew already.  We can’t turn God into a fickle person.  He’s sovereign.  He KNOWS.  At this point, it seems that He’s changed but He has not. 

Now, we’re going to see Moses come back and uphold the Law.  Look at verse 19, “And it came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.”  This is usually perceived of Moses as being an act of anger.  I think it’s more than that.  It’s not only anger but, he is giving them an illustration that their fellowship is shattered, their covenant is shattered.  “The Book of the Covenant,” that represents what they must do to follow God, is broken now in a hundred pieces.  “And he took the calf which they had made” - look at this, verse 20, “and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water, and made the sons of Israel drink it.”  I’d hate to have him for a high school principal!  There is an interesting passage in Numbers, chapter 5, we won’t take time to look at it but let me review it for you.  It was the called “the adultery test.”  It’s a fascinating thing where a man who believed that his wife had committed adultery would take her to the priest.  And the priest would take ashes from the floor of the tabernacle, sprinkle it in a glass of water and make her drink it.  And if she swelled up and died, that was proof that she was guilty.  If nothing happened, that proved that she was innocent.  It was called “the adultery” or “the jealousy test.”  Now, this is what Moses is employing here, get the picture.  The nation Israel has just committed adultery.  They have been following another god.  And so Moses employs that test and he has them drink the ashes from the calf.  And there will be perhaps 3,000-plus who die because of it.  I think what’s happening here is, he is deciding, by God’s own hand, who has committed this adultery or this idolatry.  So that’s the picture. 

Now, verse 21, it really gets heavy here, “Then Moses said to Aaron,” - now remember they’re brothers, okay?   Moses, the older brother, said to Aaron - “‘What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?’  And Aaron said” - like a younger brother - “Do not let the anger of my lord burn;” - or, in other words, “What are you so mad about?” - “you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.” 

I never really understood this encounter until, as I studied it, I remembered in my own mind, having brothers, and an older brother, what happened to me on one occasion.  Maybe this will open up this confrontation.  I still remember my fourth grade class and my teacher, who’s name was Miss Jolly.  I’d like to know where these teachers get these names!  By the way, if you’re here and you’re a visitor, it just occurred to me, and your name is Jolly, that’s a wonderful name.  Okay?  But this lady’s name had absolutely no influence on her personality.  You understand what I mean?  We were in an elementary school that had a gymnasium in the center and around the gymnasium would be these doorways leading into the classrooms.  So if you were ever sent out of the room, it was a very precarious position because people could see you from each one of these rooms.  And I happened to have brothers in school with me.  One particular occasion I can remember vividly.   Bobby, who was a good friend of mine, we were inseparable.  He now is Robert and now leads one of the largest Christian camps in Virginia.  He was always getting me in trouble.  But, at any rate, in fourth grade we were sent out of the classroom for doing something and we would get a hack, or a spanking, as we called it.  Those were the days when teachers could give you the old backhand with a wooden paddle.  And that, for me, represented great danger because my parents rule had it that, if I got a spanking at school, I got a spanking at home.  Did you have parents like that?  I heard an, “Amen,” over here!  I’ll probably do the same thing.  And, if we got a spanking at school and we did not tell our parents and they found out, through a brother, we got a spanking from Mom and, immediately following that, a spanking from Dad too.  It’s amazing I turned out halfway normal with all that kind of pressure, right?  At any rate, we’re standing outside the doorway, Bobby and I, and we’re trying to remain very still because, if you move, you’re going to attract attention from all these classrooms.  And I remember catching movement and, to my right where the fifth grade class was, for some reason, here comes my brother and his best friend, which is my best friend’s brother, coming toward us.  And, even as a fourth grader, we were rather clever.  I said, “Let’s go down to the water fountain.”  And believe me, I’m not fooling, we went down to the water fountain and we were going to fake it.  So we were there at the water fountain and our brothers caught up with us.  And I can still remember my brother, he was very perceptive, he even pastors a church today, he said, “What are you doing out here?”  And probably I said something like, “Are you blind?  I’m getting a drink of water.”  And I can remember him thinking, “Sure.”  And, about that time, here comes Miss Jolly with a paddle in her hand.  And she says, “Stephen, Bobby, follow me.”  And I can still remember our brothers grinning like cats!  I spent our 45 minute bus ride home, the first session of it trying to convince my brother I was innocent.  That didn’t work.  Then the last half trying to plead with him, “Don’t tell Mom and Dad.”  And it seemed to work, until the dinner table.  And I can still remember him saying, “Stephen has something to say to you.”  Because I had not told them, I got both. 

I can think now, when I go back to this little brother who has been caught, and Moses comes along and says, “WHAT are you doing?”  And Aaron says, note his full explanation, he says, “you know the people . . . that they are prone to evil.”  Look, verse 23, “For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’  And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’”  He’s really trying to blame it on the people.  “So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”  (laughter)  “Come on, don’t tell God on me.”  I can just hear him say.  “I’m innocent.”  And it didn’t work.  In fact, the text tells us that Moses completely ignored him.  And then he begins to execute the idolaters.  And he says, that classic speech in this chapter, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!”  And, at that point in time, there was only one tribe that came, that was the Levites.  And because of that, they would be given the priestly system or the charge of the priesthood.  This is where it all began.  And Moses carries out the Law and he executes those, according to the Covenant, who had committed idolatry. 

Now let’s apply it in our remaining time.  The Israelites faced three tests here and we do to.  Turn to I Corinthians, chapter 10.  The first is the test of patience.  Look at I Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 6, “Now these things happened” - that is, the Old Testament accounts of Moses and the people of Israel - “as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved.  And do not be idolaters, as some of them were;” - he’s writing to the New Testament church, gang - “as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’  Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand” - plus - “fell in one day.  Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” - verse 11 - “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands” - that is, if you don’t think that you can be guilty of idolatry, if you don’t think that you can be guilty of immorality, if you don’t think that you can be guilty of grumbling -“take heed lest he fall.”  And here is this passage in context now, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.  Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”  The first is the test of patience. 

And let me explain.  I think this was the test of living biblically without biblical blessings.  The twentieth century church has a terrible time with that.  It is being patient with God even when it doesn’t seem that He is coming through for us.  It is living biblically without blessings.  You see, they faced a test, it was forty days.  Now let’s be honest, if we were an Israelite, we would have also thought, “Is Moses not coming back?  Forty days is a long time.”  Have you ever waited forty days for an answer from God?  That’s a long time.  Finally, they got to the point where they believed perhaps even God had deserted them, as I’ll explain in a moment, and they failed this test.  I think also, you have to understand that the Israelites were headed for the promised land, they had been promised this land flowing with milk and honey where they would create this great nation, all of this blessing, and now, “What are we doing out here in the wilderness beside this rock?  And forty days of absence and silence, it’s not worth it.  Thanks, God, I’ll take MY life back into MY own hands and I’ll run it from here on out.”  I think this is the same trial that may knock on the door of a single gal or guy who waits patiently, believing God has the a  husband or wife, and because of the wait, the standards start to come down.  This may be the same test knocking on the door of a businessman or a woman who works with a principle or an ethic of honesty and it doesn’t really seem to pay off.  It is the trial of patience that they failed.  Living for God when God doesn’t seem to pay up.  Men and women, would you jot down this question into those notes.  It is this, can I live for God without blessings from God?  Can I?

There’s a second test.  Let me give it to you.  It is the test of purity.  Obviously, they failed.  And, by the way, this will usually follow the failure of the test of patience.  In other words, if I get to the point, in my life, where I think that God is silent, He’s not coming through, when I take those reigns out of His hands and I take them back myself, where do you think I’ll lead MY life?  Toward purity?  Absolutely not.  Toward impurity.  I think of Joseph.  If there was ever a man who was facing the test of patience, it was he.  Abandoned, alone, and now he’s climbing, because of his personality and integrity, this ladder.  And Potiphar’s house is sort of the top rung where his is now in charge of this captive’s household.  But still no word from God or home.  And then, there comes a rap-tap on his door in the form of Potiphar’s wife, who says, “Hey, why not?  Is living life, like you’re living, really paying off?”  He passed it.  They failed it. 

Thirdly, there’s a trial of faith.  This is one that captivated me, as I studied.  The trial of faith.  You need to understand, friends, that all the evidences of God had been removed.  What evidences did they have?  They had two, up to this point.  They had Moses, who was the voice of God.  And they had the cloud that had been leading them as they left Egypt.  Now where’s the cloud?  “On top of that mountain over there.”  Where’s Moses?  “We don’t know.  We think he’s over there too.”  The question is this, will I serve God without evidences of God?  It goes right along with the first trial, the trial of patience.  Will I follow God if He does not give me tangible expression that I am really following God and He really is there?  Can I trust Him when I can’t see Him?  Moses’ words were not enough.  He’d given them “the Book of the Covenant.”  And, men and women, today these words are not enough, we have these words today, the expression of God.  I think of Jesus Christ’s words to Thomas.  You remember Thomas saying, “I will not believe” - “unless I can see and touch those prints.”  Jesus, in John, chapter 20, verse 29, without rebuking, basically said to Thomas, “Here look.”  And then He said those captivating words, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”  The test of faith is, faith, which is - “the evidence of things not seen.” 

The test of patience, the test of purity, and the test of faith.  If we fail these, and we live consistently abandoning God because we cannot see Him, or trust Him, or believe Him, or have evidences from Him, or receive blessings from Him, we will fall into the same things that the Israelites did.  We will become immoral.  We will become impatient.  We will become critical.  We will, in fact, live lives as if He did not live.  In a day where there are so many idols, so many pursuits that turn our attention away from a living God, who is there, I trust, by His grace, we can live without creating golden calves.  Let’s pray.                                              

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