He is my Peace and my Way

After the Israelites decided to worship the Golden calf, they were severely punished for it at the end of chapter 32. In the next chapter, God commands Abraham and the Israelites to leave mount Sinai and continue on their journey to the promised land. This already struck me as odd, considered the great sin they committed and yet God is still giving them the land He swore to them. Why? In verse 1 of chapter 33 God says to Moses, “Depart and go up from here you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying ‘To your descendants I will give it.'” 

It’s because God made a promise to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. He knew before the foundations of the world that He would give it to them, and He also knew that they would sin and fall short of His glory, yet through all that He kept His covenant. This just brings out another beautiful character of God in my mind, to think of how quickly the world changes, yet God never does. He remains steadfast and holy. He remains faithful to His people and promises to fulfill what He had spoken. 

Yet that doesn’t mean that the Israelites still would not face the consequences of their actions. The Lord spoke to His people in the next verses saying that He would not go with them in their journey, but rather send His angel in His stead. God told them that they were a stiff-nicked people, which in my mind makes me think of someone who is unwilling to bend their neck, unwilling to change, most importantly, unwilling to disregard their own vain glory and pride and be humbled, whether by another or by God. Because of this the Lord refused to go with them. 

I could look at this text as just another story and think to myself, “wow, those Israelites sure didn’t get it”, but the ironic thing is, I’m just the same. Many times I find myself unwilling in my heart even if my actions say something different, but this doesn’t fool God. He knows my heart better than I know myself and asked that I walk faithfully with what He puts in front of me. But many times my stiff neck gets in the way of what God desires for me. I can even find myself missing out on the blessings He is giving me because I refuse to see them as such, rather in my flesh I see them as a burden and pity myself. 

But at the end of verse 7 we find that Moses set up a tabernacle of meeting outside of the camp, which he would go to in order to speak with the Lord. And in verse 11 it says, “so the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Now we know that no one can see the face of God and live, but what we do know is that the Bible is full of symbolism, and in this case this beautiful image speaks of unhindered communion with The Creator and His creation. I just love the conversation that they have in the next couple of verses where Moses asks God to show him His way, that he may know Him and find grace in His sight, so he might consider the nation of Israel His people. 

No matter how incredible this conversation may seem, it’s the same for us and sons and daughters of a Christ, who have been brought near by the blood of Jesus. It’s a matter of getting alone with the Lord, as Moses did with the tabernacle of meeting outside the camp, and asking for Him to show us His way, rather than our own. Asking for forgiveness of the stiff-necked self that so easily rules in my flesh, so that He can rule in its stead. And next in verse 14 we find God’s response to Moses: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” It is only in the presence of God that I can find peace and rest in my heart. It is only when I am in His will and His path in my life that I can rest at ease knowing that He is with me and I am not alone. I am safe. Not because of a lack of danger, but because of the presence of God that is with me. How beautiful is that? So Lord I pray that you help me to get alone with just you, away from all the distractions so that I may seek your face alone. Father, help me to bend my neck and not resist the corrections you wish to give me that I know will only provide to be for my benefit. Most importantly, show me Your way and help me to know more of You and Your Character. Lord, help me to operate in the peace that you have already given to me. 

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The Golden Calf

The Lord gave the Israelites warnings because He knew temptations of His people, He knew each of their hearts and He even knew what they would do despite His command. He even spoke of this twice in Exodus chapter 23 in verses 24 and 33. “You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works.” And again, “for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” This warning is even included in The 2nd and 3rd of the Ten Commandments. The Lord repeated this so often for a reason, He knew it would be a temptation for them. What the Israelites weren’t understanding is the graveness of these words, because whatever you worship, you serve. These gods can refer to anything they put before the Lord. 

The sad thing is, later in chapter 32 the Israelites would do exactly that. They carved themselves an image of a golden calf and began to worship it. Why the sudden change? How could they have even one doubt in their mind after what the Lord did for them that He was with them and would remain with them? The Lord saved them and brought them out of Egypt and drew them to Himself, to enter into a relationship with Him. Yet despite all of this they turned their backs and put something else above God. The reason? They were afraid. Moses hadn’t yet come down from mount Sinai and they thought He might have abandoned them and they were alone. “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “come, make us gods that shall go before us, for as for Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” (Vs 1) 

They didn’t trust in God’s promise for them and so quickly turned to false idols. The saddest part? That’s just like me. How often am I like this where I want to turn to my own way when times get tough? I become afraid and stop trusting in the Lord, even though He has been with me the whole time. I look to the world around me for comfort instead of seeking Him, and i also begin to look back. I look to my past, my Egypt, and think that it would have better if I had just stayed where I was comfortable. In Exodus 14:12 the Israelites complain to Moses and said, “for it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” 

Notice how it uses the word “serve” once again. Whatever you set your affections to, you serve, whatever you look to in spite of the Lord becomes as a god. The Israelites saw that it was difficult in the wilderness and wanted to return to their old comforts even though it was slavery.. literally. How similar am I, How many different instances in my life can I relate to this? Even after the Lord freed me from the bondage of my past, I still found myself wanting to go back at times. Where things were known, comfortable, familiar, no matter how terrible it was, no matter if it was literally tearing me apart. But the Lord won’t force us to follow Him into the wilderness, He only asks that we follow and trust Him knowing that He is working for our good, even if we can’t see it in that moment. The next verse Moses replies to the people and says, “do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Vs. 13-14) 

He asked the people not to be afraid, to stop doubting and be still. Wait. Be patient. You may not see it now but the Lord is on your side, He fights for you and the Egyptians of your past He will utterly destroy it you let Him. Be at peace knowing that The Lord your God is your Father. This is what He speaks to me now! But how often do I lose that peace and take my eyes off Him! He promises that He will destroy the Egyptians of my life, my bondages, but that doesn’t mean I can’t out of my own free will to put myself back into those chains. But if I stay by His side, He promises to fight for me, To be my Shepherd and Father. 

The Israelites, however, lost their peace. They so quickly abandoned their faith and went to worshipping this golden calf they had created, even after all the warnings the Lord gave them. The Lord would have severely punished them for the sin they committed, but Moses interceded and spoke on the people’s behalf. He saved the Israelites from receiving the punishment they so greatly deserved. Does this sound familiar at all? When I read this passage, it immediately reminded me of what Jesus Christ did for us. How He interceded for God’s people and took the death we were suppose to receive and put it upon Himself. There’s no other way around this fact. What Jesus did we cannot diminish, we cannot try to fix our problems ourselves or struggle to be a better Christian, because time and time again we will find ourselves falling like the Israelites and the gold calf. All we need to do is rest knowing that Jesus finished it all for us on the cross! So I can just stop, stop all my struggling to become a better person, stop trying to become what I think God wants of me and just be me, Allow Him to do that work in me little by little. To do anything else would be to deny the work that Christ did on that cross, the price He paid out of sheer love for a broken people. 

So Lord I pray that you would help me to Rest In Peace knowing that you fight for me, that I am your child, and you have finished it all. I can stop struggling, I can stop fighting, stop looking back and looking to anything else rather than You. 

Little By Little

“I will not drive them out from before you in one year, left the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little, I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.” -Exodus 23:29

Here God is speaking to the Israelites and His promises to the people. He had just told them earlier that He will cut off the other nations and utterly destroy them, all of which were vastly greater and mightier than Israel. But here, He is clearly telling them that He won’t do it right away, that it will take time so they can handle what they will receive. What really jumps out to me in these verses is that The Lord clears the way for us, but He asks us to take a part in the battle. He told the Israelites that He would clear the way for them, but they still had to fight. And more than that- they would have to wait. But why wait? What’s the point if God is fully capable of snapping His fingers and making all of our enemies perish? 

It’s because it’s a relationship, if He were to do everything for us, where would our part be? He takes us through the trials, but it’s a process- a process of learning to rely on Him, to come and cry out to Him, to deepen the relationship we were created for. The problems we face and the mountains we must overcome don’t just go away in the snap of a finger. It’s what the Lord calls us to walk through with Him, LITTLE BY LITTLE. He knows exactly what we need, and although we think we may want to get out of something as fast as we can, He knows that it’s a time of maturing and growing closer with Him, and that’s what we really need. Father I pray that you continue to teach me the lesson of patience; to have faith and full confidence that you are working and you have a plan. Lord, your bigger than it all, yet you still desire to walk through it with me little by little, I thank you for that. 

Exodus 15

This whole chapter in Exodus is the praises and songs that the people of Israel sang after God delivered them from the Egyptians. Pharaoh’s army was engulfed in the very sea that God had parted for the Israelites and in vs 31 of chapter 14 it says, “thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord and believed the Lord and His Servant Moses.” What a beautiful and breathtaking testimony of our God’s power working; He delivered His people from bondage as He said He would and the people’s response was to fear and believe in the Lord. The fear they felt was the complete and utter adoration and awe of their God and King. A healthy fear of knowing who they served and how powerful He was, and because of it, they believed in Him and sang praises to the Lord. Should that not be our response as well? Sure I am not have walked through parted seas with angry Egyptians chasing after me, but God’s power is working in my life as well. He has redeemed me and I now live under His blood, cleansed and made new by my King. Maybe I didn’t physically walk through parted seas, but God has repeatedly brought me through times in my life just like the Israelites in vs 19. “But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.” In the middle of the trials and storms of my life, He lifts up my feet and let’s me walk on dry land. He brings me to a place I which I can say with faith, “it is only God who has brought me through this. Not me or my own worthless glory, but God.” Each day He’s drawing me closer and closer to Him, and just like the Israelites I want to express my love and adoration for him. “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him.” (Vs 2) He has become my everything; my strength when I’m weak, my song when I cant go on; and He is my salvation and my glory. He is my God, and I am His child. Vs 13 continues with “You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom you have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.” Just as the people of Israel were led forth by God in the way they should go, so am I. This verse really spoke to my heart when I first read it because I see so many similarities between the Israelites and myself, both the good and the bad. The Lord is guiding my steps and has led me to Guatemala to spend 9 months of my life, something I would have never even imagined myself doing. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I just don’t want to go on, I’m weak in my flesh and I want to give up, but it’s His strength that gets me through the day. It’s His strength that gives me the hope to press on. He has redeemed me as His child, just like the Israelites, and now He is leading me in the way I should go. I don’t know where I am going or why He has led me here, but He knows and His plans for my life are in His hands, not mine. Why are they not mine? Because just like the Israelites in verse 16, I am part of the people, “whom You have purchased.” My life is not my own. I pray I never loose sight of that, and when I stray, Lord bring me back to the place of praise and adoration to You and You alone. Be my everything.