Dealing with Delays (32:1)

Before we throw Israel and Aaron under the bus, let’s ask ourselves, “How well do we deal with delays?”  Think about the last several times you got stuck in traffic, had a doctor running behind, or had a kid jump in a mud puddle on the way to church.  How was your reaction?

Now think about being stranded on a long journey in difficult terrain wondering if the only guy with wilderness experience (all the others were ex-brick makers) is coming back down the mountain.  This was delay multiplied by fear of survival.  “We have to do something, don’t we?” must have been the common refrain.

Reflection:  Delay is one of the times when we are particularly called to trust in God.  Yet it is also one of the times of a great deal of nervous energy and the feeling that “waiting” is just another word for passivity.  In what situations have you recently been required to wait?  How did you interpret the situation (i.e., a call to patience, a “closed door,” evidence of God’s failure)?  How do you see yourself in the Exodus 32 passage and what do you learn?

A Stiff-Necked People (32:9)

Take a moment and stiffen the muscles in your neck.  What expressions tend to emerge on your face?  What dispositions begin to come to mind?  What recent events with your kids, spouse, work, or friends do you remember?

Chances are the themes that emerge are: anger, defiance, battle-of-the-wills, resistance, condescending, etc…  God says that is who we are.  As a rule that is how we respond to anything or anyone who violates our best wishes – including God.  God’s will and our will clash enough that a common description of humanity in Scripture is “a stiff-necked people.”

Application:  This week pay particular attention to times when you tighten the muscles in your neck and facial region.  Use these bodily responses as a trigger to reflect on your character before God.  When you tighten these muscles ask yourself, “Am I loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Am I loving my neighbor as myself?”  When God gives us such tangible alerts to our disposition we should use them personal alarms.

More of God Revealed

Exodus 34:6-7 is one of the most revered passages on God in the Jewish faith.  Due to their love for the law, this description of God when the law tablets were (graciously) given back to them provides both the content and powerful example of God’s character.

In this passage five aspects of God’s character are revealed.  In order to place yourself in the shoes of Israel, consider a time when your sin did or almost cost you something very precious.  Allow both the content and context of these attributes minister to your heart.

  •  Merciful and Gracious – God does not give us the full extent of what we deserve.  Even the consequences that we do experience are muted to the degree possible without removing the life lessons necessary to prevent further harm.
  • Slow to Anger – Our every moment of non-awareness of God is deserving of God’s offense for trivializing His role in our lives.  Yet God is patient with the finiteness of our attention, awareness, and understand… not to mention our actions.
  • Abounding in Steadfast Love – God’s love is rooted in the constancy of His character.  God’s love is as eternal and unchanging as His nature.  God’s love fills the earth and our lives every bit as much as His presence.
  • Forgiving Iniquity and Transgressions – Something must be done with our sin.  An all-knowing, never-forgetting, just God cannot just look the other way or pretend something never happens.  God acts towards sin with forgiveness.
  • By No Means Clears the Guilty – With all that has been said of God, He is not a permissive Father.  His grace is not cheap; not is it mocked.  Our God, with love so tender and hand out-stretched, also has the will and power to right any unrepentant wrong.

As you reflect on these attributes of God, reflect on two things: (1) how these attributes relate to the situation in which they were revealed; and (2) the significance of these attributes for your current life context.

Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.