A week ago Sunday the text for the evening was the ten commandments. Pastor Jan shared about how as God gives the instructions, He shares what their purpose is. God says, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Exodus 20:2). The ten commandments--and the rest of the Law that follows--are not a checklist of do's and don't's so that you can get into Heaven. They are how to live to stay free. If Israel didn't follow them, their freedom was in vain. The same is true for us: ignoring them keeps us in bondage to sin.
Yesterday I preached on Exodus 32:1-14. In the passage, Moses has been up on Mt. Sinai for a while. The Israelites are getting anxious that he's not coming back. They want time with God, too. So they talk Moses' brother Aaron into making them an idol so that "God" can be in their midst.
But of course, this blatantly went against God's recently given rule about not making any graving images. So God gets upset at their disobedience and is about to punish them when Moses steps in and asks God to show them grace and forgiveness.
Often when we think of God--especially in light of the Old Testament stories--we think of Him as being vengeful, vindictive, angry and down-right murderous at times. And, true, there are times when God had enough of the sinfulness that filled the earth that He originally created without sin. And there are plenty of things God does I don't fully understand. But this isn't the fullness of who God is.
When we first meet God as He creates the world, we discover a loving, albeit powerful, creator. Then, of course, Adam and Eve sin and loose their face-to-face relationship with God. So in many ways, much of the Bible is us regaining that relationship. And as we do we learn more and more about God.
For example, in the story of the Golden Calf, we learn that God desires to have a relationship with us. Not just Moses, but all of us. When we have that relationship, like Moses did, God will listen to us. I don't think I can convey how incredible this is. The all-powerful God of the universe will listen to us! Not only will He listen to us, but He may change His mind based upon our intercessions. He didn't wipe out the Israelites because Moses asked Him not to. Moses, of course, had spent time with God and knew God's will. He knew God is forgiving, full-of-grace and loving (since Moses had all experienced it before). And since He knew God's will He was able to change God's mind.