Going Deeper 9-10-19

The first reading for Pentecost 14...


Exodus 32:7-14   The Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!' "  The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are.  Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation."  But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'?  Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"  And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

In some Bible stories God seems almost human.  This is one such story.  God gets angry, plans to react harshly, and then is talked into changing His mind.  While this may seem a bit strange, it is a story which demonstrates that we have a role to play in God’s interaction with humanity.


It is also important to consider the immediate context of this story, lest we judge God as being a little overreactive.  The truth is that God’s anger is more than justified.  God had recently responded dramatically and powerfully to the cries of Abraham’s descendants as they were suffering as slaves under the abusive power of the Pharaoh of Egypt.  Through a series of ten miraculous plaques, God delivered the people from Pharaoh’s hand, and then capped it off by opening a path through the Red Sea to save them from Pharaoh’s army, which had been sent to destroy them.  And in addition, God miraculously provided food and water as they moved into the wilderness on their way to Mount Sinai.


When they arrived at Sinai, God established a special covenant with them which included the Ten Commandments as a guide to responding to God’s grace.  But when Moses went back up the mountain and took too long to return, the people broke the very first commandment, making and then worshipping a golden calf, proclaiming it as the god who had saved them from slavery.  God’s anger was clearly justified.


But Moses pleads on behalf of the people, and God changes His mind about planning to destroy them all.  While there are problematic implications of this, it does teach us that God involves us in the story, and that He will listen and respond to our prayers.  While our prayers ought to predominantly be about God changing us, there are times for us to be like Moses and pray to God on behalf of others.


With You in Him,


Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church

Wellington, Colorado


"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."