Moses is still on the mountain, Mount Horeb (also called Sinai) and God continues to give Moses instructions regarding the Tent of Meeting. He instructs him about the laver, the spices to be used, and that Bezalel and Oholiab will be in charge of the workers because of the skills God has given them.
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The people below, wondering what has happened to Moses, begin to lose faith and revert to their Egyptian ways. They command Aaron to make a golden calf for them, and after he does they revel in sinful and sexually perverted activities, acting as pagans do.
God tells Moses about this and that he will do away with them, but Moses intercedes for the people, arguing with God (nicely, of course) that if God destroys them now, the surrounding nations will think God did that because he wasn’t able to keep his promise to bring them to Canaan. God relents, but when Moses sees the revelry, he becomes so angry that he breaks the tablets God had given him and grinds the calf into dust, places it in water, and makes the people drink the water.
Aaron gives Moses some lame excuse that he didn’t really make the calf, it just sort of came out of the fire. Personally, I don’t think Moses believed that not even for a second.
Moses calls on whoever is for the Lord to gird on their swords and kill the sinners, and the tribe of Levi immediately comes to Moses’ call and slew some three thousand of the people.
Moses went back up the mountain to plead with God, who said he would not travel with the people. When Moses related that to the people, they all felt shame and repented by removing their ornaments.
Moses convinces God that he needs to travel with the people, and then asks God to show him (Moses) God’s glory, to which God agrees to show his back, but no man can see God’s face and live.
As God covers Moses’ face with his hand, he passes by and proclaims himself, which we call the 13 Attributes of God.
Finally, Moses goes back up on the mountain for another 40 days and nights. God inscribes the 10 Words on a new set of tablets, and when Moses comes off the mountain to relate God’s commands, his face is shining. From this point on, Moses would wear a veil in the camp, but remove it when he met with God.
The sin of the Golden Calf is one of those Bible stories that is never told enough times, the lesson being so important, but I am not going to talk about that today.
What I want to talk about is Exodus 34:5 – 7 (CJB):
Adonai descended in the cloud, stood with him there and pronounced the name of Adonai. Adonai passed before him and proclaimed: “YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai] is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth; showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving offenses, crimes and sins; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be experienced by their children and grandchildren, and even by the third and fourth generations.”
These are called the 13 Attributes of God, and this is what God told Moses about himself when Moses asked to see his glory, meaning who he is.
I have a clear and simple message for us today based on this proclamation, and that message is that we don’t need to know anything more about God then what he told Moses about himself.
Yeshua told us to come to him as little children (Matthew 19:14), and most of the people I have read or heard agree that this means to be faithful. Little children accept what they are told, and even though (if you’re a parent, you know this well) they ask “why” continuously, they never ask, “How can I be sure you’re right about that?” They trust that what you tell them is what it is.
I have been studying about God for over 25 years, and the one thing I have learned that I believe is most important is that I don’t have to know anything more about God than what he says I need to know. These attributes of God are included in the Torah so that we know what to expect from God, and that is what God wants us to know. I am sure there is much more to God than what he told Moses, but since these are all he said, these are all we need to know.
Humans are a curious animal, and I am sure that God, being our creator, isn’t surprised about this. But as I learned in the military, despite how important something may be, there is not just access to the information (which would be your security clearance) but there is also a need to know, meaning you may have a Top Secret clearance, but that doesn’t mean you can look at anything that is rated Top Secret. If it isn’t something that you are directly involved in, you don’t need to know about it.
How does this fit in with today’s message?
I am sure, in my own mind, that there is a lot more to God than just these 13 aspects of his personality. But because I want to come to God with the childlike faith that Yeshua was talking about, I am not going to interrogate God or study his word to try to understand him or why he does what he does. To me, this is a problem with many people who zealously want to know all about God: there is a difference between studying God’s word to know him better and studying God’s word to understand him and why he does what he does. Again, for ME, there is a fine line between unquestioning acceptance and the need for “proof” through understanding why.
Why can’t we eat pork? Why is there a showbread that no one eats until it is a week old and inedible? Why can’t we have two threads together? Why? Why? Why?
Don’t get me wrong- I am not saying we should never ask God why or study the Bible, but what is wrong, in my opinion (for whatever that means to anyone) is when we try to figure it out so that we can understand why. I read a long time ago that any God who can be understood by the mind of Man is not worthy of the worship of Man. I believe that makes a lot of sense because to be on the same “level” as God, wouldn’t we have to be a god? And, therefore, trying to be on his level is a form of blasphemy, isn’t it? Saying that any one of us could be the same as God?
I will never stop reading the Bible, and each time I read it I get a better sense of God. I have seen “between the lines” and had revelations of the deeper meaning, the Remes, of what God says in the Bible. I believe this understanding is from God, given to me through the indwelling Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) and which I would never have understood before. In fact, there have been passages I have read dozens of times, but then suddenly reading it one more time, I see something in there I never saw before that makes my understanding of God even deeper.
But I never ask God to prove why we should do what he says we should, and that is the important difference between wanting to know God better, and wanting to know what God knows.
Even though it may seem fine to some to try to figure out why God gave us his commandments, I think that it is no different than asking God to prove to us why we should do as he says to do. A child asks why, and then accepts the answer without asking to prove it to be so, and when God tells us this is what we should do, if we begin to try to understand why he says that, to me, it is no different than saying, “Convince me why I should!”
God is above everything we could ever know or understand, and as such, if we can’t be faithfully trusting that what he says is what we should do without asking for proof, then I believe we are being disrespectful.
And that is not the childlike faith Yeshua said we need to have.
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!