Friday, February 5, 2016

Who Won at Mount Sinai?

Mount Sinai proved to be a battleground between the Almighty God and the gods of Egypt for control of the Israelites' hearts.

The Israelites had grown into a large nation, since the time of Joseph and his brothers. But for the past 430 years they had been a nation of slaves. In a land not their own. The time had finally come and God had rescued them by His mighty hand.

The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.” (Exodus 12:35-36)

They rejoiced as they left the land of slavery with their children, their flocks and and their arms full of treasures. Heading toward the Promised Land. But their hearts did not yet belong to the Lord.

After witnessing all of the horrible plagues in Egypt, safely crossing the Red Sea on dry ground before those waves of water poured over Pharoah's army, following God in His pillar of fire by day and pillar of cloud by night, receiving manna from heaven and water from a rock, and then defeating the Amelikites, the Israelites “remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: 'You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven. Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.'” (Exodus 20:21-24)

The Israelites would need to learn how to follow God according to His commandments. God said they were to worship Him and Him alone. Their faith was about to be tested.

When Moses went and told the people all the Lord's words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” (Exodus 24:3)

So Moses sprinkled the blood from the sacrifices on the altar and on the people. “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:8)

Then Moses entered the dark cloud on the top of the mountain where he stayed for forty days. God gave Moses very specific instructions about the building of the tabernacle and the clothing for the priests (as a directionally challenged person all of those details feel pretty overwhelming when I read them. I'm glad God gave them to Moses and not me).

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him.” (Exodus 32:1)

So Aaron took their gold earrings and made a golden calf. Whenever we get to this page in our Bible story book, Daniel lets out a big sigh and says, “Oh no!”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:7-8)

Moses interceded for the people and God listened to him. He punished them but did not destroy them. Then Moses returned to the top of the mountain with two new tablets to receive the Lord's commands again.

Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the Lord has commanded: From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.” (Exodus 35:4-9)

The people gave and gave and gave until they had to be restrained from bringing any more. Because there was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:6-7)

All of those treasures they brought out of Egypt (except for the golden earrings that went to make the golden calf), freely given as an offering to God. And all those who were skilled offered their talents to build the Tabernacle. Because the Israelites had decided to follow the Almighty God. To turn away from the gods of Egypt that they had been surrounded with for as long as they could remember.

Yes, they would make more mistakes in the days and months and years to come. And be filled with doubts and complain that they wanted to return to Egypt. But this was a victorious moment for the Israelite nation. They gave willingly of what they had (and those beautiful things from Egypt would have been nice for former slaves to hold on to). And what they gave was more than enough.

What's competing for your heart today?

*******Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the theme of "Compete"********


  1. I love that they brought so much they had to be told to stop bringing things. That it was more than enough. Is it possible for us to give that way?

    (I would have been overwhelmed by the details, too!)

    1. Yes, I really like that part too, Michele. Usually we read about abundance from God's end but this was one of those rare times that people actually gave in abundance!

  2. I had the same thought as Michele... to give that way!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jenilee. I really appreciated your post too about being on the same team. So important to remember!

  3. I love this story! You've done an excellent job of breaking it down so I could clearly visualize the sequence of events. I'm curious about the last line, "What's competing for your heart today?" It's definitely a thought provoking question for me. Were you referring to the Israelites having hearts to give and how often other things crowd our hearts/minds to keep us from giving? I think that's what you meant but just wanted to be sure. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you, Tiara. I'm glad you asked to clarify. As I was writing this post and thinking of competition, I was also thinking about the rich young ruler and how he wasn't willing to let go of his money/possessions, so he couldn't follow Jesus. We can only have one Lord in our lives. I don't know that the Israelites were aware of the battle going on for their hearts as they came out of Egypt, just as I don't think we tend to think about the battle going in for our hearts today. They said they wanted to follow God and obey His commandments, but when Moses was gone for so long and they didn't know if he was coming back, they returned to what they knew...worshiping idols. After they repented they willingly gave all their treasures to God, which I think was evidence that they really wanted Him to be Lord in their lives. It was a turning point. He wasn't just God of their fathers Abraham, Issac, and Jacob but their own God. It was a big moment but they were faced with lots of other tests of their faith...I think today some things competing for our hearts are possessions, recognition, status, achievements...

  4. Jodie, such richness of thought here!

  5. Yes. I needed that question today. Thank you.

    1. I'm so glad to know that, Kelly. And it's encouraging to hear how your team is addressing issues of comparison/competition. May you see God at work in bringing you closer together and in giving more glory to Him!

  6. There is so much that can compete for our hearts, if we don't watch out God is minimized. I love how you encompass what God does, and how you emphasize the need for him and to recognize what is in our own hearts

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Davis Family.



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