I’ve been reading Exodus and Leviticus recently. I have to share verse from Exodus that made me laugh.
32 When the people realized Moses was taking a long time to return from his trek up the mountain, they got together and approached Aaron.
People: We have no idea what happened to this fellow Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt. He left you in charge, so get up and make us gods who will lead us from here.
Long time? Moses has been gone for 40 days at the most and I can’t help but imagine perfect british accents and bowler hats from ‘the people’. This chappie is how I pictured them. The laugh was disbelief that the plagues, the passover, the taking of Egypt’s wealth, the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the chasing army, not to mention manna and water in the desert had been so quickly forgotten.
Fast forward a little while. Moses has come down, destroyed the golden calf, had a portion of the people executed. God is considering removing His presence from accompanying the people but Moses reminds Him they are His people and receives the total delight and privilege of seeing a fraction of God’s glory. He goes back up the mountain and God reiterates His laws.
Can you imagine the people waiting at the foot of a mountain they may not even approach? Seeing the top wreathed in clouds with flashes of lightning and maybe the rumble of thunder, or maybe that is the echo of God’s voice. I’m imagining now, the Bible doesn’t say anything about this but I think this is how I’d feel. I’d be looking up, glancing nervously at neighbours. I’ve spent my life as a slave, working for the Pharaoh, never-resting, never being free to do what I wish. Now here I am in the desert, not entirely sure what’s going on but free. Fingers fiddling, body twitching eager to be doing. Then Moses comes down and there’s a nervous moment in case God has really abandoned us. In case the Levites are gonna do some more culling. But instead Moses calls us all together and gives a list of all the things needed for the place where God will dwell. Huge relief that He is going with us and then more relief. Finally I have something to DO.
Exodus 35 and 36 describes the Israelites freely bringing all that is needed to make the tent, vestments etc and even more. Moses had to tell them to stop cos there was enough. I get like that, maybe that’s why I could imagine what they felt. When I’m busy for God, doing something, then all is good. It’s easy to ‘be good’ when I am doing. Not so easy when I am ‘being’. The Voice has a beautiful introduction to the next book, Leviticus. It says that the book is designed to shape worship. I have to quote the last paragraph:
At the heart of the book is worship, how an unholy people approach an absolutely holy God. The former slaves are fully convinced that God is in their midst and is calling them to be a different sort of people, a people chosen to bear witness to the one True God and make Him known to the nations. But His nearness means an acute sense of sin guilt and impurity. So Leviticus provides the spiritual leaders with the spiritual means by which hopelessly flawed people can discover grace and find their broken lives repaired.
I bet you never looked at Leviticus like that before, I know I didn’t. That’s still the way for us, an unholy people approaching a holy God. We want to do, to make amends, to make Him forgive us. But we are already forgiven and like Moses we can stand in His presence and know His favour. We don’t have to be busy, busy, busy. If we are busy it is because we have a calling not to ‘get in good’ with Him. The Old Covenant gave us the Law. The New Covenant gives us Jesus, His sacrifice, His love and the Holy Spirit.
24 So then, the law was like a tutor, assigned to train us and point us to the Anointed, so that we will be acquitted of all wrong and made right by faith.25 But now that true faith has come, we have no need for a tutor.