Expectations & Hopes Meditations: 11. “It will be all right” Expectations
Ex 32:1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Trouble at Sinai: The story of Israel and the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai is one I would much rather avoid for it is horrifying on so many levels, but it is the natural follow-on to the thoughts we had about Pharaoh and how the godless human race behaves. Let’s cover the details quickly:
- Moses goes up the mountain to receive more law from God and stays there forty days (Ex 24:18).
- Some of the people down below give up waiting for Moses and demand that Aaron make ‘gods’ for them to follow (our verse above)
- So Aaron made a golden calf (Ex 32:2-6a) and they offered sacrifices before it.
- Then they held a celebration party (32:6b)
- Moses comes down, sees the revelry and calls on the Levites to execute all the revellers. Three thousand died. (Ex 32:19-28)
Why so Bizarre: There is a lot more to the story but those are the basics. Left to themselves for forty days without leadership, and Israel turn to idolatry. Now what is so incredible about all this is that Israel had seen the Lord at work:
- Through the ten plagues in Egypt (Ex 5-12)
- Killing Pharaoh and his army (Ex 14)
- Providing miraculously for them on the way to Sinai (Ex 16,17)
- With sights and sounds at Sinai (Ex 19,20)
- With the revelation of Himself to their leaders who saw Him (Ex 24:9-11)
Why? Why? Why? So how could it possibly be that within a very short while, some of the people (the fact that only 3000 were killed out of a population of possibly nearly 2 million suggests it was only a relatively small number of the whole who did this) seem to forget all they have seen, and they turn to idolatry like other peoples (and they had covenanted to go with God Ex 24:7) and act so badly? For an answer we have to answer, as we did in the previous study, the deceitful human heart.
Human Failings: How is this all about expectations? Well let’s try and think of reasons that people act like this – and I suggest we all do in a greater or lesser measure. Oh yes we do; I see it in my own responses and I see it in other people. One month we can be at a great Christian convention committing ourselves body and soul to the Lord, and a month later we are complacent and indifferent and when calls come for people to attend the prayer meeting, the Bible Study, or join an outreach team, we are ‘too busy’ or ‘too tired’. Sadly, for some of us, it will get worse. We will do things – and let’s not bother to list them – that we know are plain sinful, whether (OK I will list some) watching pornography, making designs on another man’s wife or another woman’s husband, oh so accidentally it came about! Or we cut corners at work, cheat in exams, falsify accounts, oh the list goes on and on. This is what human beings do – even Christians!!!! How can we do it? It’s all about expectations. Let me explain.
Poor Memories: Having said that, we must dispose of one truth that isn’t about expectations, I believe, and it is the fact of our poor memories and tendency to live for the present. Isn’t this why Jesus said of the communion service, “do this in remembrance of me”, because he knew we have the tendency to so easily forget. There are a number of things in the Old Testament as well, where God got Israel to do things that would act as a reminder. It is probably in the realm of sex that ‘immediacy’ kicks in most strongly. We know that the forbidden fruit, even just this one time, will have consequences that will develop and wreck our lives, but we push on nevertheless and our lives are never the same again.
Deceived Thinking: But I think the expectation issue in all of these things above, is summed up by the philosophy that Satan got Eve to subscribe to – “It will be all right.” So we see whatever it is in front of us and he whispers, “It will be all right,” and linked with that, “God won’t do anything, what does He care about this, it’s such a small thing.” But the truth is that it isn’t such a small thing, it’s the start of something which, if He doesn’t step in and act, will multiply and multiply and get right out of control. It is the false and foolish belief that these things DON’T have consequences that releases human beings to do foolish things that run contrary to God’s design.
Israel were supposed to be a light to the rest of the world, revealing the Lord to His world, revealing His ways to the rest of the world. Forgetting the past year and giving way to present desires was foolish and went directly against the very reason God had set Israel free from Egypt and was taking them to their own new land. They may have thought, “It will be all right, Moses is not here, God isn’t watching, nothing will happen,” but that was deception and we know where that comes from. Moses did return, God was watching and this could not be permitted to continue, and a simple scolding would not achieve that. Drastic steps were required.
Resisting & Overcoming: How do we counter such things? Overcome evil with good, the Scriptures teach, so how do we do that. We fill our hearts and minds with His word as we meditate on it daily. We pray and seek His face daily. We worship with all our hearts. We give ourselves over to His purposes and declare ourselves available to Him on a daily basis, and we listen for the leading of His Spirit to be a blessing to those around us. And we also remain alert to resist unwise courses of action. We steer clear of temptation and avoid compromising situations as far as it is possible. If we fail and fall, repentance is the start of the way back and seeking His grace. It’s not the end – but it’s better if we can avoid falling off the rails to start with!