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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Daniel 5:17-23; Revelation Ignored

10/24_Daniel 05:17-23; Revelation Ignored; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20211024_dan05_17-23.mp3

The king held a feast the night Babylon fell. His father Nabonidus had been defeated and fled days earlier. Cyrus and his Medo-Persian army were camped outside the city.

Daniel 5:1 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

5 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. 6 Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. 7 The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed.

Belshazzar, brazen and bold, with total disregard for what is right and good, desecrates the holy vessels from the temple of the God of Israel and praises the inanimate gods of his own wealth and defenses; gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, stone. The living God sobers the drunk king by writing with living fingers in the plaster of his party room where all could see, and reduces this brash king to a pale and paranoid collapsing puddle of incompetence.

Daniel 5:10 The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king— made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”

13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. 14 I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”

The queen, likely the queen mother, part of the old administration, rebukes her son and points him to the wisdom of the old administration, particularly the aged Hebrew Daniel.

The young Belshazzar, regaining some of his impudence, insults Daniel by questioning his capabilities and putting him in his place, reminding him that he is a mere exile brought captive by the mighty Babylonian empire of which he, Belshazzar, is currently in charge.

Theology Lesson

Daniel 5:17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation.

Daniel skips the formalities of the court and the ‘O king, live forever’ nonsense, which was clearly not going to happen; the king will be dead before the night is over. He declines the king’s offer of gifts and rewards as useless and unattractive. He is interested in truth, and won’t be compromised by a bribe.

Daniel will read the writing on the wall and give the king the interpretation, but he doesn’t start with that. He starts with God, he is thoroughly God centered, because it really is all about God.

Daniel 5:18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.

Belshazzar is acting as if he were God. He needs a theology lesson. He needs to know that it is the one true God who gave the kingship to his father Nebuchadnezzar. The Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. All this was a gift. It was from the Most High God, the very one whose vessels Belshazzar profaned at his illicit feast. God is the giver of every good gift.

Contrast Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar

There is an implicit contrast between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar in what Daniel says to him. Nebuchadnezzar was given the kingship, greatness, glory, and majesty. Belshazzar is the acting king, and he can put on a great feast, but that’s about all. He lacks the greatness, the glory, the majesty of his predecessor. Nebuchadnezzar had conquered kingdoms, and was the king of kings. Belshazzar through a series of deaths, coups and assassinations inherited that kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar was a builder, fortifying Babylon and making her beautiful, a wonder of the world. Belshazzar was hiding behind Nebuchadnezzar’s walls, throwing a party in one of his palaces. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and plundered the temple. Belshazzar drank wine from the vessels his father had seized. All peoples, nations and languages trembled and feared before Nebuchadnezzar, but now Belshazzar was trembling in fear before all his dinner guests. Nebuchadnezzar killed whom he willed, but Belshazzar is about to be killed. Nebuchadnezzar had much to be proud of, and God Almighty humbled him. Belshazzar stood small in his shadow, and acted even more presumptuously and arrogantly than his father.

His father was great, entrusted by God with godlike power to rule and govern, ‘to kill and to keep alive, to raise up and to humble’ but when ‘his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down.’ In his own words from chapter 4 (:37) “all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

History Lesson

Daniel gives Belshazzar a history lesson. He reminds him of the lesson learned by Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 5:20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.

Structure and Symmetry

Daniel chapter 4 is Nebuchadnezzar’s own record of that event. There is symmetry to the book of Daniel, and the end of Daniel 4 is the hinge connecting the two halves of the Aramaic portion of Daniel. Starting in 2:4 and going through the end of chapter 7 the book is written in Aramaic, not Hebrew. This section has a mirror structure:

2 The King’s Dream -4 kingdom statue

–3 The Fiery Furnace -refusal to worship; divine rescue & exalted

—-4 Nebuchadnezzar’s Beastly Pride – repentance → worship

—-5 Belshazzar’s Blasphemous Pride – unrepentant → destroyed

–6 The Lion’s Den -refusal to worship; divine rescue & exalted

7 Daniel’s Dream -4 kingdom beasts

Chapter 2 parallels chapter 7, which are both dreams of four kingdoms, one given to Nebuchadnezzar in the form of a great statue, one given to Daniel in the form of beasts. Chapter 3 parallels chapter 6, where the faithful are persecuted for their faithfulness to God and thrown into a pit, the three into the pit of the furnace in chapter 3 and Daniel into the pit of lions in chapter 6. Both are supernaturally preserved and delivered. At the center of this structure is the pride of pagan kings; Nebuchadnezzar warned, humbled and repentant, acknowledging the Most High God as God; Belshazzar blasphemous, warned and humiliated but unhumbled, whose end is death.

Daniel draws our attention to this comparison and contrast between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Those who walk in pride God is able to humble. Nebuchadnezzar’s heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened; he was proud but God humbled him. And he came to know ‘that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.’ Nebuchadnezzar repented. He looked to God. His reason returned and he acknowledged the Most High God as sovereign. He praised and extolled and honored the King of heaven. He worshiped.

Without Excuse

Daniel 5:22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

You knew all this. You are responsible for what you know. A fool doesn’t learn from his own mistakes. A smart person makes mistakes and learns from them, but a wise person is able to see the mistakes of others and learn from them. Belshazzar is a fool. He knew that proud Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God, lost his reason, went wild and ate grass like an ox for seven years. He knew all this, and yet he did not humble himself.

We often hear concern over remote unreached people groups; would a loving God really send them to hell when they had no opportunity to hear the gospel? Paul writes in Romans 1

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

God has revealed himself in creation, his eternal power, his divine nature is made plain, is clearly seen, so all are without excuse. Our problem is not that we don’t know there is a God; we do. Our problem is that we refuse to honor him as God or give thanks to him. We become futile in our thinking and we would rather give our worship to creation than the Creator. We would like to think that he does not exist, so that we are not accountable to him; so we pretend like he doesn’t exist. We know he’s there, but ‘no one seeks for God …not even one’ (Rom.3:11-12). We all are without excuse.

Belshazzar was without excuse. ‘you …have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven.’ His was not a mere passive ignoring the existence of God; his was intentional active rebellion. By taking the vessels of God’s house and drinking wine from them with his lords, his wives and his concubines, he is acting as if he were God, claiming to be more powerful than God. He was exalting himself against the Lord of heaven. He was doing exactly what Romans 1 warns against; he refused to honor God as God; instead he ‘exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator’ (25). He praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know. But God sees. God hears. God knows.

Breath of God

Belshazzar refused to honor the God ‘in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways’. Did you know your every breath is from God? Job challenges the idolater:

Job 12:7 “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; 8 or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. 9 Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Beasts, birds, plants, fish; all creation knows that our very life and breath are under God’s control.

Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Do you acknowledge that every breath that you have drawn from birth up to this present moment was ordained for you by God? Do you acknowledge your next breath is in the hand of God? You knew all this. You are without excuse. Will you honor God as God and give him thanks, will you use this breath to worship and serve the Creator, who is blessed forever? (Rom.1:21, 25)

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

October 26, 2021 Posted by | Daniel, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 4:10-17; The Excuses of Moses and the Anger of God

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100718_exodus04_10-17.mp3

7/18 Exodus 4:10-17 The Excuses of Moses and the Anger of God

4:1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”-so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand- 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.” 10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

The Excuses of Moses and the Anger of God

We’ve seen Moses struggling to believe who God is and what he says he will do. Moses is raising objections and asking questions, and God is patiently answering those questions and meeting those objections. God is not afraid of the questions of his people. God is not the wizard behind the curtain pretending to be something he’s not. In the truth there are answers to every question. God is removing one by one the excuses of his servant. Moses has objected that his reputation is not adequate to the task at hand. His resume is lacking the necessary qualifications. “Who am I that I should go?” God answers that it is not about who you are, Moses; it is about who I am. Moses asked ‘who am I?’ God answered ‘but I will be with you’. So Moses asks ‘then who are you? If it doesn’t matter who I am, then what are your credentials? Who do I say sent me?’ God answers ‘I AM THAT I AM, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the self existent uncreated creator of all that is, the uncaused cause of all things.’ Tell them that, and tell them what I promise to do. I promise to bring you up out of the land of affliction. And the elders of Israel will listen. But Moses again objects, this time directly contradicting what God has said. ‘They will not believe me or listen to me.’ So God patiently grants to Moses three terrifying supernatural signs that will demonstrate to the people that God is indeed with him. The signs together with his testimony about the one true God of history will convince the people of God, but they will not persuade the Pharaoh. Now in this passage Moses raises two more objections to being the instrument God uses to deliver the Hebrew people from Egypt.

Here in this section we have the third time God tells Moses to go. He said in 3:10 “come, I will send you to Pharaoh”. In 3:16 after answering his first two objections, he says “go and gather the elders of Israel”. Now in 4:12, after answering two more objections, God again says “now therefore go”. God is amazingly patient with his people. God does not give up on us.

Psalm 103:13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Let’s look at Moses’ 4th objection.

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

Moses has objected that he doesn’t have the credentials and won’t be listened to. God promises that the people will listen. His next objection is that he doesn’t speak well. His objections are getting more trivial. First he was concerned about his identity and his reputation; then, when God pointed Moses away from himself, he asked who God is. Next is more of a dispute or complaint; God told him the people would listen to him; Moses argues ‘but they won’t listen’. God gives him three signs to perform that will cause the Israelites to listen. Now Moses’ concern is that if they do listen, they won’t be impressed with what they hear. We don’t know exactly what Moses’ concern is. He claims to be slow of speech and tongue. Some have speculated that Moses had a speech impediment. Literally he says he has a heavy mouth and a heavy tongue. Maybe after 40 years of talking to Midianite sheep in the desert he has lost his command of the Egyptian language. Maybe he was just self-conscious that he was not the best orator of his day. Whatever the case, we find later in the book that Moses does more than his share of public speaking and he seems to do just fine. It appears that Moses is grasping at straws to weasel his way out of God’s commission for him. He has moved from the content to the style of delivery.

Notice that Moses’ complaint takes the form of an accusation against God. ‘You know I’ve never been eloquent in the past, and not even you showing up and talking to me has been able to change that. Moses is dictating to God the skills inventory necessary to carry out the task at hand. Certainly the person who is to go into the presence of Pharaoh and demand the release of the slaves must be a smooth talker. Certainly God could miraculously bestow eloquence on someone slow of speech – but it hasn’t happened yet. Moses is complaining that although you’ve called me to this task, you’ve failed to give me the proper equipment for carrying it out. My disobedience is your fault, God, for not giving me the gifts and abilities to do what you’ve asked me to do. I can’t, and you haven’t done your part. Moses is questioning the wisdom of God. He is giving God advice. ‘God, I don’t think your plan was very well thought through. If you’re going to send someone to save Israel from Egypt, this is how you should do it. You should choose someone who is popular, a natural leader. They should have a real way with words. Someone who has connections and influence, both with the Hebrew slaves and with the Egyptian royalty. I wonder if there was a bit of thunder in God’s response to Moses here:

11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

This reminds me of God’s response to Job when Job challenged demanded an audience with the Almighty. God goes on for four chapters questioning Job out of the whirlwind.

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding…

God answers ‘Who has made man’s mouth?’ Moses, are you insulting my creative ability? Moses, I made you exactly the way you are. I made you with a purpose in mind. Do you think I made a mistake? That I didn’t have the foresight to know what I was going to call you to do? Do you think I forgot to give you some necessary equipment? It is interesting to me to see what God claims here. God claims to be the author of things we would consider disabilities. We might be inclined to attribute the inability to see or hear or speak to the fact that we are living in a sinful fallen corrupt world. But to clear up any misunderstanding or confusion we might have, God answers his own question. ‘Is it not I, the Lord?’ I made man’s mouth. I make men mute and deaf. I determine whether a man will see or will be blind. I am ultimately in control over these apparent disabilities. I cause these things and I cause them for a purpose. I am reminded of the man Jesus healed in John 9 who was born blind. The disciples assumed his condition was a consequence of sin, so they asked who sinned, this man or his parents. Jesus’ answer is in line with what God told Moses here. Jesus said:

John 9:3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

This is consistent with the rest of scriptures on this matter. Look what else God claims responsibility for:

Deuteronomy 32:39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

How can this be? How can things we consider bad – calamity or blindness or slowness of speech – how can they display the works of God? In the man who was born blind, Jesus character and nature was put on display to the blind man, to his parents, to the Jesus-rejecting religious leaders, and to all the people who attended church with him. And this man had the eyes of his heart opened to see Jesus for who he is and to believe in him, to become a bold witness for him, and to worship him as God.

Paul is another example. People who heard him said:

2 Corinthians 10:10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”

But Paul says:

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

In fact, there is an eloquence that can nullify the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

For Moses, the same is true. God intentionally chose a man who knew he was not sufficient to the task, someone who did not have the right credentials or resume or skill set specifically so that everyone would know that it was God who delivered Israel from Egypt, not some highly gifted charming individual. Moses, I made you just the way you are so that you would not mistakenly think that it was you who did it; so that you would be under no delusion that you could do it; so that you would depend only and completely on me to do what is impossible for you. God says ‘I made your mouth just the way I want it to be for my perfect purposes.

Even after all this, God is still magnificently patient. For the third time he tells him to go, and he promises again to be with him.

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Moses asked ‘Who am I?’ and God responded ‘but I will be with you,’ the great I AM is with you. Here Moses asks ‘but what about my slow speech?’ and God answers ‘I AM with your mouth’. I will teach you what to say. It would not matter if Moses were completely unable to speak. The issue is not at all about who Moses is or what Moses can do. The issue is that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do and he will use whomever he chooses to use. That’s what makes Moses final protest so striking.

13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

Literally, Moses says ‘send whom you will send’. This is a polite way of saying ‘I don’t want to do it’. This final protest of Moses is unique, because he doesn’t give a reason. He simply politely declines the invitation. Each of the other protests were based on a fear that could be specifically addressed and answered. At this point Moses says ‘you’ve taken away all my excuses, but the fact is that I just don’t want to do it.’ God has said ‘you, Moses, are the man.’ Moses says ‘no, I’m not your man. Choose someone else.’ This is not wise. Jonah was another prophet God sent on a specific mission and Jonah jumped a ship going the other direction. God chased him down with a storm and booked him passage in the cargo area of a great fish who barfed him up on the shores of Nineveh, where God had told him to go in the first place.

Jeremiah was called by God to speak. He said:

Jeremiah 20:9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

Paul, who was abruptly called by Jesus to preach the gospel said:

1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

God will conquer the rebellious hearts of all he calls into his service. When Moses says ‘I’m not worthy, please send someone else’, this is not an expression of humility, but of pride. C.H Mackintosh put it this way:

Unbelief is not humility, but thorough pride. It refuses to believe God because it does not find in self a reason for believing. This is the very height of presumption. If, when God speaks, I refuse to believe, on the ground of something in myself, I make Him a liar (1 John 5:10). When God declares His love, and I refuse to believe because I do not deem myself a sufficiently worthy object, I make Him a liar, and exhibit the inherent pride of my heart. The bare supposition that I could ever be worthy of aught save the lowest pit of hell, can only be regarded as the most profound ignorance of my own condition and of God’s requirements. And the refusal to take the place which the redeeming love of God assigns me, on the ground of the finished atonement of Christ, is to make God a liar and cast gross dishonor upon the sacrifice of the cross.” (C.H.Mackintosh, Notes on the Pentateuch, p.161; originally published 1881)

It is in response to this pervasive pride that God responds in anger:

14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.

God is rightfully angry with Moses. But again the patience of God shines through. Even in his anger the kindness of God is displayed toward the weakness of his servant. God doesn’t back down and allow Moses to walk away. God said he would send Moses, and Moses he will send, but he agrees to send Aaron along with if it will make Moses feel better. There is comfort in the camaraderie, but this may not be an entirely good thing. It would be Aaron who would fashion the gold calf for the Israelites to worship while Moses was on the mountain with God receiving the commands to have no other gods before him and to make no images.

Here we have a picture of what God’s prophet does.

15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

Aaron was to speak for Moses to the people. He was to speak only the words that Moses put into his mouth. Again we see the superabundant grace of God at work. Even in the midst of blatant disobedience – ‘please send someone else’ – God brings a helper and promises his own presence. God promises his presence with both Moses and Aaron. “I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do.” We tend to trust in a friend we can see rather than the faithful one who is always there. Our hearts are inclined to put more confidence in an eloquent tongue than in the one who created it. For us, if God is with us that should be enough.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 13:5 … be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This is what brings true contentment, true fulfillment, true joy.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalms 65:4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

July 18, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , | Leave a comment