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.