Summary: God is giving the Hebrews a way to build and stay in relationship with Him. This two pronged approach from God, building a relationship and weeding out things that will hurt that relationship is effective for us today as well.
Have you ever lost your driver’s license?
Isn’t it a traumatic event? I have lost my driver’s license several times over the years and each time it made my life difficult. For all practical purposes I lost my identity. I couldn’t write a check – stores will not take a check without proper identification. It is chancy using a credit card, a good clerk will ask for identification, and try to catch a flight….forget about it.
I lost my driver’s license during our move from California to New Jersey. Not having a driver’s license in any state is bad, but not having a driver’s license in New Jersey was a horrible experience. Understand, they don’t trust anyone in New Jersey. I became a complete nobody, absolutely no one would believe who I said I was who I was. I could not make any kind of transaction except for cash. I had trouble registering at Seminary, getting housing, the list went on and on. So, I didn’t want to, I wished I didn’t have to, but I had no choice, I had to go to the place I never wanted to go – The New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you have ever lived in California, you know, the California DMV is legendary for its ability to create long lines that crawl at a snails pace. The lines always seem to extend outside the building. The place with the most anger and frustration in the state of California is without a doubt, is located at the California DMV. So, in my imagination, if California DMV was bad, how much worse was the New Jersey DMV going to be?
Upon my arrival at the Trenton area DMV, I was taken back. It was a large beautiful building, the reception area was enormous, with very comfortable overstuffed furniture and there were friendly people who were eager to help out in any way they could. I was shocked. But what impressed me the most was THERE WERE NO LINES?
Well, there was a long counter with a series of windows, numbered 1 through 15. I was directed to go to window #1 by the woman at the information desk. A young lady greeted me at the window and I gave her my paper work. She looked it over, and paper clipped something to it, placed my paperwork in a wire basket and asked me to take a seat and they would call my name. “I should be out of here in no time I thought”, I grabbed a magazine and took a seat.
About twenty minutes later my name was called to come up to window #2. I went up to the counter and the SAME WOMAN took my paperwork out of the basket, stamped it and gave me back my paperwork. Now…. I’m telling you, no one had touched or even laid eyes on my paperwork for the twenty minutes that I sat in the lobby. “Please have a seat, and wait for you name to be called.”
I waited another 15 minutes. My name was finally called again. This time I was to go to window #3. The SAME WOMAN took my paperwork from me, added a page, asked me to sign it, stamped the paperwork, handed it back to me and said, ““Please have a seat, and wait for you name to be called.”
I could see where this was going. I was called up to each window, window #1 through #15, with about a twenty minute wait in between. At each window I dealt with the SAME WOMAN that I had dealt with at window #1. I was astounded. Finally, at about window #9, I asked her, “why couldn’t we just take care of everything all at once since she was clearly the only one who was dealing with my paperwork?” She pretended not to hear me, and said, “Please have a seat, and wait for you name to be called.”
I sat in the lobby of the DMV waiting, wasting away my Saturday, and then it hit me, the state of New Jersey was absolutely brilliant! They had eliminated all lines at the DMV by having people sit in the reception area. I was at the DMV for over four hours. What a trial I had to go through to restore my identity.
Here in our Scripture this morning we have the Lord God working to restore a people who have lost their identity. While Moses was up on Mount Sinai, the Hebrews worshiped a golden calf and the results were a disaster. As a result, the Lord God no longer dwells within the encampment, The Lord meets with Moses outside the encampment. Because of this, we see the people lost their identity. Without God, the Hebrew people are just another nation, without God, the Hebrew people are not, the people of God. The Hebrew people realize that they are a group of nobody’s without the Lord God, and so they repent.