Sunday, June 12, 2016
Bed Time Stories
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
Bedtime stories are one of the best parts of parenting. I love reading books and reading with my kids is such happy time for me. When my boys were little I would check piles and piles of books out of the Library. We’d read books about sharks, dinosaurs, rocks, and funny books like “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” or “Scaredy Squirrel.” So much fun! We’d also read children’s Bibles, highly edited versions with lots of pictures and happy stories. My youngest loved the Bible so I had to find kids Bibles that made the jump to deeper stories than Creation or Baby Jesus being born. A good interim Bible was the Kids Message Bible. One year, I picked up the Brick Bible which is illustrated with Legos at our local book store. It was definitely PG 14 and included stories that my 8 year old hadn’t heard before. As a warning, one of his friends picked it up and saw all the clear red Legos everywhere and commented, “There’s a lot of blood in this book.” He was right, the Bible is often a violent book and there are many things I don’t quite understand.
In the years since we bought the Brick Bible, our bedtime reading has turned into one chapter a night of an unabridged Kids Bible. We read chapter by chapter and verse by verse. We’ve been plowing through Exodus recently. It is one of those books that starts out awesome. The stories from the first chapters of Exodus fill children’s picture Bibles and are the stuff of movies. Baby Moses is born and is put in a basket to be watched by his big sister, Moses is adopted into Pharaoh’s family, Moses talks with the burning bush, Moses goes back to Egypt to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go, the ten plagues, the Passover, the escape from Pharaoh's army and the parting of the Red Sea. Good stuff! The amazing thing is all this is covered in 15 chapters. In chapter 19, Moses heads of Mt Sinai and God gives him the Ten Commandments. Most kids’ books end there.
But Exodus continues and for the next twelve chapters, it gets down in the details and weeds of setting up a new nation under God. Following is a list of the section headings – hang with me to the end. Hebrew Servants, Personal Injuries, Protection of Property, Social Responsibility, Laws of Justice and Mercy, Sabbath Laws, Three Annual Festivals, God’s Angel to Prepare the Way, Covenant of the Confirmed, Offerings for the Tabernacle, The Ark, The Table, The Lampstand, The Tabernacle, The Alter of Burnt Offering, The Courtyard, Oil for the lampstand, The Priestly Garments, The Breastpiece, Other Priestly Garments, Consecration of Priests, Altar of Incense, Atonement Money, Basin for Washing, Anointing Oil, Incense, Bezalel and Oholiab, and The Sabbath. Our family has been slogging through these chapters –wondering why all these details were important. Why did the robes have to be made of linen? Why were the curtains and basins described in SO MUCH detail? It was the Word of God but some of us were wishing we were reading a kid version that skipped all the boring stuff.
If you think it took a long time to read all the details of the Law in Exodus-imagine waiting at the foot of the mountain in the desert. The Israelites found the wait unbearable. Moses had been up on the mountain a long time. Since they didn’t have the option of skipping ahead a couple of chapters to find out what comes next, they decided to come up with their own solution instead of waiting on God. Here how their problem solving went, “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… (Aaron) took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”” Exodus 32:1, 4
What!! How do you go from the amazing miracles of the Plagues, parting the Red Sea and water from a rock to asking Aaron to make an idol for you!!! I never got it until this most recent time of reading Exodus with my boys. I could see them sigh and then zone out as we read about priestly tassels and blood on the horns of the altars. Ughh! It was slow reading. There were lots of other things they would have rather been doing.
The light bulb turned on in my head. All of us can be just like the Israelites. God may be doing something amazing- yet because I am at the base of the mountain -I don’t see his hand writing the Ten Commandments and I don’t see that He is putting in place plans for my protection and blessing. Impatience leads to finding substitutes to God’s plans. I have seen so many people settle in relationships- friends who got in sexual relationships that were out of God’s plan, people who found their meaning in what they did rather than what God did for them, friends who transferred their God given ability to worship from the Holy One to worshiping a football team. Times when I put my desire for friends and other people’s good opinion and my fear of rejection above God’s perspective. All of this is idolatry, it may be not as obvious as dancing around a golden calf but the same in God’s eyes. Idolatry begins when we focus on what we can see; we look for things that immediately satisfy rather than realizing that God is working things out for our benefit and His glory. God has great blessings and rewards for waiting. Trust that God has amazing things in store for you- what He did to set you free is just the beginning. Have you experienced a difficult time when you wondered what God was doing? How did you stay focused on God?