As children, we must learn how to control what angers us. When our outbursts from anger of not getting our way leads to spilled milk or other messes, our parents, with wisdom guiding them, gives us the means to clean up the mess we created. When we are a part of the cleanup, we think twice before letting our anger take control over us. This learning takes more than one occasion, but is necessary for growing in God’s ways. Wise parents help their children fix what is broken inside and out.
Even “righteous” anger must be fixed when relationships and important items are broken. God will help Moses fix what he smashed when he “lost it” over the behavior of God’s People. Remember the tablets God engraved with his own finger with His commandments for living in relationship with God and others? Remember two chapters back when Moses came down the mountain to see God’s People partying and worshiping a golden calf instead of God? In anger, Moses threw down the God-engraved tablets against the rock and smashed God’s Commandments into pieces!
Now, God is calling Moses back to the mountain to meet him and fix what was broken. God is patient. God’s anger is controlled and we learn that He doesn’t give up on us—even when we make a mess of life. God helps us fix what was broken so we can begin anew in our walk with Him. His best—nothing less.
Exodus 34, The Message
1-3 God spoke to Moses: “Cut out two tablets of stone just like the originals and engrave on them the words that were on the original tablets you smashed. Be ready in the morning to climb Mount Sinai and get set to meet me on top of the mountain. Not a soul is to go with you; the whole mountain must be clear of people, even animals—not even sheep or oxen can be grazing in front of the mountain.”
4-7 So Moses cut two tablets of stone just like the originals. He got up early in the morning and climbed Mount Sinai as God had commanded him, carrying the two tablets of stone. God descended in the cloud and took up his position there beside him and called out the name, God. God passed in front of him and called out, “God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. Still, he doesn’t ignore sin. He holds sons and grandsons responsible for a father’s sins to the third and even fourth generation.”
8-9 At once, Moses fell to the ground and worshiped, saying, “Please, O Master, if you see anything good in me, please Master, travel with us, hard-headed as these people are. Forgive our iniquity and sin. Own us, possess us.”
10-12 And God said, “As of right now, I’m making a covenant with you: In full sight of your people I will work wonders that have never been created in all the Earth, in any nation. Then all the people with whom you’re living will see how tremendous God’s work is, the work I’ll do for you. Take careful note of all I command you today. I’m clearing your way by driving out Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Stay vigilant. Don’t let down your guard lest you make covenant with the people who live in the land that you are entering and they trip you up.
13-16 “Tear down their altars, smash their phallic pillars, chop down their fertility poles. Don’t worship any other god. God—his name is The-Jealous-One—is a jealous God. Be careful that you don’t make a covenant with the people who live in the land and take up with their sex-and-religion life, join them in meals at their altars, marry your sons to their women, women who take up with any convenient god or goddess and will get your sons to do the same thing.
17 “Don’t make molten gods for yourselves.
18 “Keep the Feast of Unraised Bread. Eat only unraised bread for seven days in the month of Abib—it was in the month of Abib that you came out of Egypt.
19 “Every firstborn from the womb is mine, all the males of your herds, your firstborn oxen and sheep.
20 “Redeem your firstborn donkey with a lamb. If you don’t redeem it you must break its neck.
“Redeem each of your firstborn sons.
“No one is to show up in my presence empty-handed.
21 “Work six days and rest the seventh. Stop working even during plowing and harvesting.
22 “Keep the Feast of Weeks with the first cutting of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
23-24 “All your men are to appear before the Master, the God of Israel, three times a year. You won’t have to worry about your land when you appear before your God three times each year, for I will drive out the nations before you and give you plenty of land. Nobody’s going to be hanging around plotting ways to get it from you.
25 “Don’t mix the blood of my sacrifices with anything fermented.
“Don’t leave leftovers from the Passover Feast until morning.
26 “Bring the finest of the firstfruits of your produce to the house of your God.
“Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”
27 God said to Moses: “Now write down these words, for by these words I’ve made a covenant with you and Israel.”
28 Moses was there with God forty days and forty nights. He didn’t eat any food; he didn’t drink any water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words.
29-30 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his radiant face, and held back, afraid to get close to him.
31-32 Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that God had told him on Mount Sinai.
33-35 When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the presence of God to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they would see Moses’ face, its skin glowing, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back in to speak with God.
WHAT ELSE DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
God wants His best for all of us. When life is messed up by our anger, we turn to God who meets with us to fix what is broken. How? He gives us what we need to mop up the mess we have made in our lives. We meet with Him, learn from His Word, and with the help of His Holy Spirit, we understand that following Him is the best life for us to live.
God is a jealous God. Why? Because He loves us and knows what is best for each one of us. When we walk away from what is best, it breaks His heart because of His great, unending, unchanging, relentless, love for us! “His compassions, they fail not, great is His faithfulness!” (One of my favorite old hymns reflecting who God is!)
God sent His best to save us from our sins and to teach the full intent of God’s Commandments to us. Jesus came to seek out the lost, heal the sick, and show the glory of God to a people who had forgotten who He was. Jesus, God’s Son then laid down his life for our lives, taking our punishment, redeeming us of all sin, once and for all. With this act of obedience to God with a love that is hard to grasp but necessary to get ahold of, our mess that we made of our lives is now mopped up.
Because of God’s Way out, we now have a Way in to all that God has to offer—His help and care. We just show up, give up, repent of our sins and be saved for life! We are rescued from our former life that led nowhere to a life of all that God wants us to have, His best life, and is forever! In this imperfect, messed up world we will have troubles and challenges but now we have the power of God in us to face whatever comes! How can we say no to the One who loves us, more than we can imagine, beyond our wildest dreams?
We get to choose. Friends, choose well. It’s a matter of life or death. Seriously.
Turning our messes into messages, God’s working His best into in our lives as a testimony to Him, is explained simply by Paul to believers everywhere:
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:19-26, NLT
What Paul is saying is that when we live like Jesus we usually don’t need laws to govern that way of life. No one is going to reprimand us for having too much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!
Yes, our sins, not in part but the whole, are gone forever in Jesus Name! Jesus—God’s Best in us!
There is so much more to learn and meditate on today from this passage alone. Thank you for wanting your best for us. Thank you for giving us the tools to fix what is broken as if it never happened. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace that fuels your patience with us. Thank you for helping us fix what is broken from our anger, jealousy, envy and lack of love. Help us to love others like you love us—without conditions.
In Jesus Name, Amen