Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
By the time the people get to Sinai, two eventful months have gone by. They crossed the Red Sea on dry ground and watched as God destroyed the whole Egyptian army! They travel for three days! (A number of days often used by God as He is getting ready to do something wonderful!) When they get to Marah, the water is too bitter to drink and “the people complained and turned against Moses.” God purifies the water with a tree! (A picture of the cross!) There, God tells them that if they will listen to the Voice of God, He will not bring the same things upon them that befell the Egyptians (Exodus 15:26).
They most likely do not stay long in Marah. The Scriptures do not tell us that they camped or stayed there but that they travel on to the oasis of Elim where they find that God had twelve springs of fresh water and seventy date palm trees waiting for them. Judging from their lack of complaining at this time, the palm trees were probably very heavy with fruit (dates). From there, they move into the Wilderness of Sin. They arrived there exactly one month after leaving Egypt. “There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.” (Exodus 16:2) Then, they moved out of the Wilderness of Sin and we're told that God moved them from place to place until they came to Rephidim - the place to rest for the night! Or was it the Place of Strife? Their choice! And they did not make the right choice! “So once more the people complained against Moses” (Exodus 17:2). Do you see the recurring theme from the people?
Connection 1: Jacob and Esau = Amalekites - Erased!
That old rivalry! Jacob and Esau! Over 400 years later it is still boiling up and causing problems! At Rephidim, Israel is attacked by the Amalekites. Amalek was the grandson of Esau and it was his descendants that attacked the children of Israel. There are those who claim that there never were any such people as the Amalekites. The truth is, no archaeological evidence of their existence has ever been identified with any certainty. They are listed in the Bible! But, in the archaeological record, it looks as though the Amalekites are nothing more than a myth. Nothing found that was written down? Nothing dug up that was made by them? This is what Wikipedia says about it - “Although Egyptian and Assyrian monumental inscriptions and records of the period survive which list various tribes and peoples of the area, no reference has ever been found to Amalek or the Amalekites. Therefore, the archaeologist and historian Hugo Winckler suggested in 1895 that there were never any such people and the Biblical stories concerning them are entirely mythological and without any connection to actual historical events.”
I have never heard this taught or read it anywhere, but - here’s why there are no records... Exodus 17:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And it was so! God blotted them out because they attacked His people! The Bible listed them as fact and that is for Israel to remember and for our benefit! Also, the Jews are commanded to remember what the Amalekites did to Israel! “Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt” (Deuteronomy 25:17). Israel, still to this day, builds monuments to remember what they did! But the world cannot find any evidence. God stated why! “I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek...” - God!
Connection 2: It's been almost two whole months! Are we there yet?
Four hundred years in Egypt, probably 300 of that in bondage, and it's taking two whole months to get from Egypt to the Mountain of God! (Sarcasm!) God's people are impatient and fed up already!
Exodus 19:1-2 Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai. (NLT)
Finally! They have made it to the Mountain of God! The Lord tells Moses to set up a perimeter around the mountain that will keep the people from going up on the Holy Mountain and being killed by God himself. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.’ Moses told the Lord what the people had said. Then the Lord told Moses, ‘Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch’” (Exodus 19:9-11 NLT). (Three days again!)
God wants the people to understand that He is Holy and no one, except those whom God gives permission, may approach Him. God is going to allow them to stand close enough to hear Him as He speaks to Moses and gives Moses the Ten Laws of the Covenant. We call them the Ten Commandments. It is the contract with the people that God Himself writes with His own finger on two stone tablets. Moses will end up breaking these tablets and they will be put into the Ark of the Covenant. God will rewrite the Commandments upon new tablets that Moses makes himself.
The Lord does come down onto the Mountain! Fire burns and smoke billows! “Thunder roared and lightning flashed” (v. 16)! The Earth trembles and the people are afraid! The ram’s horn sounds after which the people are allowed onto the mountain, but it appears that out of fear they do not go. (See: Exodus 19:13.) (A picture of the second coming?) Moses is called up onto the Mountain of God… (I wonder if Michael, the Archangel, is blowing the horn as God descends?)
Connection 3: The Exodus, The Time of the Judges, Today
As we read through Exodus, it is hard for us to understand how Israel could be standing before Mount Sinai (after passing through the Red Sea), actually hear God speaking to Moses from a fiery cloud and realize that just forty or so days later, they will have built a golden calf and be throwing a huge party to celebrate their new god! Long before the Book of Judges, it was already true that “everyman did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6)! All to often, it is still true today!
Imagine this: Eighty plus year old Moses has been gone for four or five weeks and the people go out of their tents as they do every morning and pick up this bread that has miraculously appeared on the ground for them! They called it “What is it?”- “manna” in Hebrew! Today, if we had rotten attitudes like the Israelites did, we might call it “what-cha-ma-call-it! Same thing! They did not have enough respect for God to give it an appropriate name! They ground it on millstones and baked it or boiled it into a pot of something like oatmeal? They gather all they want and eat all they can. Now, with their bellies full of the blessings of God, they begin to demand that Aaron make them a new god “to go before us”! Or at least an image of God to replace Moses. Besides, if they went back to Egypt with Moses out in front… not a good idea!
If they were saying they wanted an entirely new god, I don’t think Aaron would have went along with it. I am not sure of Aaron's true motivations? But he was a negotiator. And Moses was not there to guide him. So, he makes the calf! Some of the other leaders proclaimed, ”This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” But when Aaron saw or heard what they were saying, he steps back into the conversation and tries to lead the people back to worshipping the Lord. “Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord’” (Exodus 32:4). Lord, here, is the name Yahweh. So it seems obvious that Aaron did not mean to make a new god, but rather a representation of Yahweh. And another fact to consider is, that the ground opens up and swallows the leaders who were saying this is your god who brought you out of the land of Egypt but God does not kill Aaron. Aaron made some big mistakes, but it becomes obvious that God does forgive him and continues to grow him in the Lord. God will make him High Priest! Aaron may have had better intentions than Moses’ enemies, but Israel did indeed begin to worship this other god! They knew what it truly was! Also, God had already said to have no graven images! (Exodus 20:4)
The people did believe that God existed. Or, at least most of them probably did. Before Moses went down to free them, they had been crying out to Yahweh, so obviously they believed in him. But they had lost confidence in Moses! And because of that, they had lost confidence in God. “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1). They wanted a representation of God in front of them. One to replace Moses! One they could see. One they could give their own attributes to. One who would not bring fire upon their camp and kill some of them! A god who would not bring plagues upon them as they had seen God do in the past. In other words, they wanted an image of God that they could control! When we consider this, the commandant of “thou shalt not have any graven images” begins to make a lot more sense.
It looks to me like they were trying to make God from their own understanding! An image that might help explain the strange, miraculous things they had seen. This reminds me of the theory of evolution. Evolution is a religion. It takes faith to believe in it. The only proof anyone has of evolution, is what others tell them is the truth. “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:25) The Israelites made the mistake of listening to those who had been opposing Moses. They choose a calf god. One that would have been considered to be Pharaoh’s grandmother! Or possibly it was a representation of Pharaoh as a golden calf descended from Hathor and the sun!
To understand what is happening here, we need to understand a little bit about where they came from. They came from Egypt where Pharaoh was considered to be a living God. He was considered to be a son of the Sun. The Sun was the son of the Egyptian Goddess, Hathor. They believed the Sun god traveled across the sky and at the end of every day he had sex with his mother, Hathor, giving birth to a new Sun god that would rise the next morning out of the Milky Way, the milk of the goddess Hathor. In between the horns of Hathor was the fiery sun disk. The Israelites knew the order of the Egyptian gods and goddesses well. Hathor was the goddess of love, childbirth, joy, sex, beer, drunkenness and was the goddess of the miners and was worshiped in the Sinai where copper, malachite and jade were mined. She was the cow goddess of the Egyptians. The mother goddess. The Milky Way represented the milk from her udder. She was a very popular goddess with both the rich and the common man!
Application: I have Rights! Don’t I?
The people of Israel did not just make a golden calf! They were worshiping the mother goddess and her “grandson,” Pharaoh! This was part of the Egyptian creation story! They hoped that when they went back to Egypt, this Hathor/Pharaoh worship would convince Pharaoh to take them back!
The calf god was also a storm god! Maybe if they took that back to Egypt, Pharaoh might understand that the fiery storm that opened the sea, blocked his way and then drowned his army was responsible for all of this and not the children of Israel! Kind of a, “It wasn’t me! The calf did it!” thing. (More sarcasm!) Ultimately, I believe they wanted that golden image because they wanted FREEDOM OF CHOICE! They could now choose when they would travel and where they would go. They could now live without moral restraints. Sex outside of marriage and other immoral behavior would no longer produce negative consequences! The RIGHT TO CHOOSE! Or so they thought...
That is exactly what is happening today! Even in the church, there are many people who discuss what a persons’s rights are. We have no rights, except for those that God freely gives to us! To take any more rights than that is to worship our own golden calf! We do not have rights over our own bodies! Our bodies were made by and belong completely to Him! We have to be careful, lest we find ourselves worshiping and serving the creature (ourselves) rather than the Creator. A woman does not have a right to her body or to be able to choose to create life or take life from an unborn child. God alone holds those rights! A man does not have the right to live any lifestyle he chooses or even try to change his body into a woman! God alone has the right to make us who we are made to be! It is simple! What were you made to be? Answer: Three words - “TO BE HIS!”
What rights do we have? We have the right to love the Lord! We have the right to love our neighbor and even ourselves! We have the right to pray! We have the right to represent Christ well with our lives and words! We have the right to share the Gospel! We have the right to worship God in our hearts! We have the right to use our God given gifts and talents for him! And we have the right to die for Him!
Not exactly what the world wants to hear! Not exactly what many Christians want to hear either! In all of the scriptures there is one thing that God is teaching over and over! “YOU BELONG TO ME!” It is a TRUTH! It is a CONSTANT! I guess the only question really is…. Do you know it?
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