Fight Off What Comes Naturally
Exodus 20:1-21 1 Peter 2:9-12 3/6/2020
Some things that come naturally to us can prove deadly if we give ourselves over to them. Have you ever been driving and got sleepy at night. You do things to fight off that natural desire to sleep. You may open windows, turn off the heat, eat snacks or a number of other things to stay awake. You know the consequences of giving in to falling asleep while driving a car.
Not only is that true in the physical realm , that is true in the realm of our desires physically. We all know what it is like to have some desires or attractions to things or persons that would not be in our best interests to act upon. It’s natural to want to own a car more than we can afford, or a home that’s beyond our budget.
It’s natural to go in the store for one thing and come out with 15 things. It’s natural for us to blame others when something of ours is lost. It’s natural to assume we are right and the other person is wrong.
When it comes to having a natural desire to know God, it is natural for us to choose things that will draw us further away from God. The human heart left by itself will not choose the things of God. Oh it will try to be a nice, decent person, but it will not desire the will of God for our lives. It was natural for Jesus to say, Father take this cup away from me, but not natural to say but not my will, yours be done.
I am amazed that Jesus is able to love us. Because the writer of John’s gospel tells us that Jesus did not entrust himself to people because he knew what was in each person’s heart.
Our natural tendency is always going to be to choose the world over the things of God. When it comes to loving the Lord, the commandment starts from the position here is something you need to start doing. For it says,” You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Yet when it comes to loving the world, the commandment starts from the position, here is something you need to stop doing. The apostle tells us in 1 John 2:15-16 (NIV) 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.
It is natural for us to love the things of the world and the ways of the world. That’s why we are called to walk by the Spirit and not by the things that are naturally within us.
If someone were asked to you, where are you bent toward disobeying God could you tell them? If they asked you which part of the world are you tempted to love, would you admit it? It’s always something from the world that actually keeps us from 40 days to a better you.
Most people do not have a problem with God as long as they are allowed to create God in their own image. Every generation wants to recreate God in their own image, despite the author of Hebrews telling us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Whenever there is a great leader in the bible who leads the people back to God, there is a sad verse following the end of their lives. It goes like this, and the people worshipped God all the days of the leader and the elders that survived him, but afterwards they turned to false Gods.
Walking with God is always going to be an act of faith. You may believe if God would do this one thing for you, you would never ever doubt God again, and you would serve him with your whole heart. But that simply is not true. The people in the bible who saw God’s miracles in the most powerful ways from plagues hitting one group but not another, who experienced God’s provisions in unbelievable ways, (free food and meat from Heaven) and who heard God’s voice the clearest, had no problem rejecting God’s authority over the lives.
Never forget Judas was with Jesus his entire ministry up to the cross but in in the end he rejected the claims of Jesus.
God had told Moses to have the people come near Mount Sinai so that they could experience His Glory. God had a 40 day plan for a better you. The people all responded “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses consecrated all the people. It took three days.
The people were there at the mountain. They saw this massive thick cloud with thunder and lightening over the mountain. The whole mountain was shaking. They heard God speaking to Moses. The people told Moses, you speak to God for us and we will listen, because it God speaks directly to us we will die.
Well Moses agreed to speak to God for them. There was just one problem. Services were being held a little bit too long. Some people assumed God should have said what he had to say in a much shorter time.
After 10 days most of the people had forgotten about the mountain and went home. By end of 25 days , there was speculation that Moses, had either gotten lost or been killed by God . By the end of 35 days, the people were starting to enjoy doing their own thing and coming up with their own rules. Aaron sees all this taking place but now he’s getting nervous. He’s wondering what’s happening to Moses.
At the end of 40 days the people come to Aaron. They let him know they have had a meeting, and they believe that he should be in charge of the people. They were no longer interested in waiting for any laws to come down from God, because if any were coming, they should have already arrived.
Not only that, as for this fellow Moses who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him. You can almost sense the contempt they are already showing for Moses, a man who has already saved their lives on numerous occasions.
Now Aaron, we have taken a vote and the majority of us have agreed that you should come and make us gods who will go before us. These are the same people who heard God literally say,
Exodus 20:1-5 (NIV)
1 And God spoke all these words: 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.
When society unites and moves in a certain direction, rarely is it in the direction that is going to lead to a closer relationship with God. After saying they would do what God told them to do, they changed their minds.
This attempt to reconstruct a new God that allows us to be comfortable with what we are doing is a seed that lies in every human heart. Sin that we label as horrible when others do it, can be easily justified when we are doing it.
Things that we never thought we would do or approve of become easier to do when everyone around us is being forced to get on board.
40 Days earlier, if they had made this request to Aaron, I bet he would have soundly rebuked them for the idea of creating an idol to worship it. Aaron does what he does at this point for probably the same reason most of us would have done it.
We love the praise of people more than the praise of God. I think Aaron is symbolic of the way many leaders in church today in that think it is their job to allow people to do what they want, as long as they come to church.
If God had wanted a bunch of idol worshippers, he could have left the people in Egypt where they were already worshipping idols. God called the people out of Egypt in order to show the world what God was truly like and what God required of His people.
The church is called to be a chosen people set apart from God. The apostle Peter tells us we should surprise people in the way behave. 1 Peter 4:4-5 (NIV) 4 They think it strange that you do not join with them in their reckless, wild living and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
Everybody should be treated in a welcoming manner who comes to church, but not everyone is going to feel welcome in church. We should not always feel comfortable in church. Luke 6:26 (NIV) 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. If 100% of the people love everything about our church, we are doing something wrong.
Everybody did not feel comfortable around Jesus. When Jesus told people they had to change, many of them got up and left. They told Jesus to his face, “we do not like what you are teaching and they left.”
The church is the place for us to discover we are all sinners in need of God’s grace and that grace is equally available to us all. The cost of receiving that grace is a surrender of your desires to the will of God. Jesus never said, everyone would follow Him. He even asked people to sit down first and count the cost.
There is always going to be the pressure to have Jesus at a discount. Aaron is counting the cost. Let’s see, Moses is gone, the people want me as a leader, if I decline, they will choose someone else, and I will lose my job.
Aaron thinks he’s alone in this battle, and so he caves in. He wants everyone to feel they are acceptable to God just as they are instead of teaching them what God says about their behavior. He asks the people to bring their gold so they can melt it into an idol. They make first a wooden image.
People pour in their gold that God had given them when they left Egypt, and Aaron and his friends shape this thing into an idol cast over the wooden image. When its’s done they cry out “These are you gods Israel who brought you up out of Egypt.” This was a complete rewriting of history. Do you see how quickly society can convince us that something wrong is right?
How do you think God was feeling? Here God was on a 40 Day Plan for a better you for His people. Yet his people wanted nothing to do with waiting to hear from God for a 40 day period..
The next day after the creation of the calf idol, Aaron announced there will be a festival to the Lord. He’s jumped into this thing completely. The next day they have a big feast and the wildest party you’ve ever seen This new God comes with drunkenness, sex with anybody you choose to have it with and wild dancing. The people think they are in total control of their situation.
But God sees them and says, “they have become thoroughly corrupt.” God would have wiped them from the face of the earth except for the fact that Moses pleaded on their behalf.
God sent Moses back down the mountain with God’s writing on the tablets. The people were carrying on so, that as they were coming to the camp, Joshua told Moses, it sounds like a war going on in the camp. Moses said that’s not a war sound. That sounds like a party out of control.
When Moses saw them worshipping and bowing down before the calf, he threw the tablets and broke them. He asked Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you led them into such a great sin.” Moses didn’t see this as a passing mistake. He knew it had almost cost everyone their lives had he not pleaded with God for them.
Many times we are tempted to take what God has said is wrong, and proclaimed, “Well I don’t see anything wrong with it.” That’s going to be fine, if we are sitting in the judge’s seat. But what if God keeps sitting in his chair.
Aaron didn’t own up to his giving in to peer pressure, he didn’t own up to his pride of being the new leader. He blamed the people and told a lie. He claimed he threw in some gold and out came this calf. When the new you does not show up, its easy to point the finger in another direction.
The people had gotten so far out of control in worshipping this God of their creation that Moses could not bring them back to their senses. Once they rejected god’s authority over their lives, it was only natural for them to fall deeper and deeper into sin.
Those who were adamant about continuing to worship this God were killed by the Levites and about 3000 of them died. Later a plagued wiped out additional people.
These people made the fatal mistake of giving in to their desires. They may have been genuinely afraid of having lost Moses as their leader. They may have still wanted to go into the promised land.
They may not have liked this idea of trusting a God they could not see and therefore felt the need for something they could see and touch. They might have even thought they had made room for a more loving and just God.
They discovered they had nearly lost everything God had intended for them. Throughout Scripture, again and again, people will try to create gods that allow them to do what they want to do. It comes naturally for them to do so. That’s why we have to allow Jesus to crucify that part of us, that wants to do what comes naturally.
You and I don’t need a new god of our creation in our lives. We need Jesus. The one who says I am the Way, the Truth and The Life, No one comes to the Father, except through Me. Jesus makes it possible through His death and resurrection for us to know the one true God. For that God is the one to whom we shall give an answer.