A ‘stiff-necked’ people!
Scripture reading for January 31: Exodus 32-34
The nation of Israel quickly turned away from their commitment to obey God. Moses was on the mountain in the cloud and fire for 40 days. He was receiving the tablets with the 10 Words from the Lord. The people came to Aaron and asked for gods who would lead them. Aaron gave in and asked for gold earrings and ornaments. The people gave and soon Aaron had fashioned an idol of a golden calf. They bowed down to the calf-god made by Aaron and had a lewd party around the idol. God’s jealousy was aroused!
God spoke to Moses about the idolatry and told him to leave Him alone so He could destroy them. (Exodus 32:8-10) God’s verdict–“They are a stiff-necked people.” God is jealous! (Exodus 34:14) God had just written two commands that demanded that His people have no gods and make no idols. (Exodus 20:3-6)
Moses smashed the tablets in holy anger indicating the breaking of God’s Word by the very people who had sworn to obey! (Exodus 32:19; Exodus 24:3) Moses, however, did pray and intercede, asking God to spare the people. God listened but judgment still fell on those who sinned.
Moses called for those on the Lord’s side and the Levites stepped up. They had to strap on swords and execute those who participated in the idolatry, even if it was their brother, friend or neighbor! (Exodus 33:27-2) Three thousand were executed that day.
The lessons for us today are plain. This loving and compassionate God (Exodus 34:6-7) will not tolerate idolatry or sexual immorality. Lying goes with them, too. Note Aaron’s response about just throwing the gold into the fire and an idol coming out! We are all born into idolatry and it is a work of the flesh. (Galatians 6:19-20) The sword of the Spirit brings conviction which can lead us to repent and forsake idolatry! We must walk by the Spirit and allow His fruit to grow in our lives.
Let’s not be ‘stiff-necked!’ Bow your neck today in reverence and prayer to the merciful and compassionate Lord who paid to free us from the sin of idolatry. Jesus is interceding for us like Moses of old. Instead of smashing the tablets, He kept them fully for us! Through faith in His life and death, we have hope!