Summary: Moses, Pt. 8 of 15


In August 1989, a legal case in Los Angeles opened up a can of worms and had a rippling effect on the rest of the country and the rest of the world. Two young adult brothers - the Menendez brothers - from a wealthy family in Beverly Hills shot their parents in cold-blooded murder. The lawyer and the brothers told the court repeatedly that the brothers feared for their lives and that they had no choice but to kill their parents because their parents had sexually and physically abused them.

The brothers did not argue that the shots were accidental, and even though they first pointed to intruders, they eventually confessed to the killings. Just as the nation expected a guilty verdict after five long years of trail, it ended in 1994 with two deadlocked juries, and a mistrial.

The lawyer and the brothers had successfully used child abuse and fear in a murder case. Even though they were convicted of first-degree murder another two years later, the damage was done. Today the most popular defense arguments in criminal cases are insanity, provocation, and abuse - sexual, physical or substance.

In the 60s, the blame fell mostly on parents. Now scientists say the blame is in the genes, the DNA, and nature.

With a few exceptions, people get what they deserve for their wild, heedless, and outrageous behavior; they lie on the beds they make. As Dr. Laura once said on radio, “Problems are what happens to us beyond our control, like sickness; mistakes are what we make.” People are not prone or destined to make wrongful decisions, take senseless risks, or court bad company; they have a choice.

After arriving at Sinai after three months of travel (Ex 19:1), Moses made his first trip up the mountain (Ex 20) and returned with the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant (Ex 24:7) to a rapturous audience that repeated in Hebrew “All that the Lord had said, we will do” (Ex 24:3, 7). All was well even after Moses spent forty days and nights up the mountain on a second trip (Ex 24:18), but when Moses was up the mountain the third time, the people defiled their bodies, disobeyed God’s word, and devoted themselves to other gods.

The refusal of Israel and Aaron to take responsibility for their sins made their sins more obnoxious before God. On the other hand, the Levites shouted, “I am for the Lord” and killed all that were responsible. Moses tried but failed in his bid to ask the Lord to forgive the Israelites and to punish him instead.

What does God want us to do when temptations come? What happens to the unrepentant even when a second chance is given? And how do we help others and ourselves in the future?


21 He said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?" 22 "Do not be angry, my lord," Aaron answered. "You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ’Make us gods who 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.’ 24 So I told them, ’Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!" 25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for the LORD, come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him. (Ex 32:21-25)

Calvin Miller told the story of a talented but immoral and adulterous sculptor who received the gift of a huge block of marble from the king. The king’s instructions to him were also unusual: “Carve anything you like, only it must be a portrait of all that lies in the center of your soul. Before you begin, bring your hammer and chisel to the high altar of the cathedral. Lay them at the great altar of gold and beg with the dying Christ to sanctify your heart.”

The man was mad at all these specifications, restrictions and inconveniences. He said to himself, “Only when an artist is free is an artist an artist.” On Monday the following week, he ate all kinds of food when he started carving. On Tuesday at work, he was envious of his neighbor’s estate. The next day, lust occupied him while he labored on the sculpture. Other deadly appetites bothered him every day till the sculpture was ready.

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