Go Among This Stiffnecked People

In Exodus 19 – 32, Moses went up to Mount Sinai to commune with God. He was gone so long that the Israelites became restless. They were without their shepherd and they strayed. Aaron commanded them to give him their gold, and he made the golden calf. Moses was infuriated: He threw down the tablets from God, he burned the golden calf, forced the people to drink the ashes in water, and commanded the sons of Levi (who stood with the Lord) to slay every man his brother and every man his companion and every man his neighbor (about 3,000 men) (Exodus 32.27). The next day, Moses appealed to God, asking Him to forgive their sin, and if not, to blot him out of the Book. God assured Moses that whosoever has sinned against Him, him will He blot out of His book (Exodus 32.33).

The Israelites marched to Mount Horeb, where they witnessed God speaking directly to Moses, face to face, as a man speaks unto his friend (33.11).

God and Moses went back and forth about the Israelites several times: sometimes it was Moses railing against the people, wringing his hands and agonizing what to do about them; God called for mercy. Sometimes God was full of wrath against His people; Moses begged for mercy.

In Numbers 12.3, God states that the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. (I can only imagine Moses wrestling with writing that down, and God making sure that Moses understood that it certainly would be written down.)

In Exodus 34, Moses hewed two more tablets of stone and again went up unto Mount Sinai. There, the LORD passed by before Moses and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”

Moses bowed himself to the ground and worshiped, and said, “If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance.”

I tried to imagine what it might have been like for Moses to hear the Voice of God, to hear God proclaim His Holy Name in his very ears. Then I gave myself a dope slap: Moses had the Voice of The LORD God Almighty in his ears; I have The Spirit of the LORD God Almighty in my very being. I hear the Holy Spirit in the Words of His Scripture and in the counsel of Godly people and in prayers.

Christians, we have the Very Presence of God Almighty in us and around us. (Psalms 139.5 You hem me in behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. And Isaiah 30.21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.)

May we fall on our knees before the Living God:

Praise Him

Psalms 113.4 – 6

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,

His glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the LORD our God,

the One enthroned on high?

6 He humbles Himself to behold

the heavens and the earth.

Confess we are sinners

Jeremiah 10.23, 24 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 24 O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Beg for His mercy and forgiveness

Psalms 86, 1 – 7

 Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.

2 Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.

3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.

4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

6 Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.

7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.

And humble ourselves and pray as Moses did: If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance

Aaron Stretched: Lessons on Obedience and Humility

Ex 7. 20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded; in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials, Aaron raised the staff and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was turned to blood.

Ex 8.6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

Ex 8.17 This they did, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, gnats came upon man and beast. All the dust of the earth turned into gnats throughout the land of Egypt.

We don’t know if Aaron saw a burning bush or heard an audible voice, as his brother, Moses, did; but Aaron obeyed the direction of God and joined Moses in leading the Exodus of God’s people from Egypt. Their first job was to show the power of God to Pharaoh. Aaron seemed to understand his position as a mouthpiece, a task which the brothers seemed to share, off and on. Aaron also got to share the raising and striking of hand and rod to produce powerful results.

Did Aaron always fully understand that the power behind these miracles was always, 100% God’s? Well, he did get pretty carried away when he made the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain. However, he also understood the value of humility. He and Moses perfected the art of falling on their faces before a righteous and terrible Almighty God (Numbers ch’s 14, 16, 20) on behalf of their people.

Aaron is an excellent example to us of the value of humble obedience. God told Moses to tell Aaron to stretch out his rod or hand over the river, over the waters, over the dust. Aaron simply obeyed, then stood back to witness God’s power and plan. He took part in and witnessed all the miracle plagues, and how God saved His people from them. He witnessed the parting of the Red Sea. He pleaded with God and witnessed God’s provision for a stiff-necked people.

Aaron obeyed. Aaron OBEYED. And look what he got to see! And do! He was not perfect, but he knew how to be a humble servant of his God. We can learn much from him.

A Humble Heart

James 4.10: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

In 2 Kings 5, a man named Naaman, “captain of the host of the king of Syria,” had leprosy. Even while struggling with this health (and social) issue, he was a mighty servant of his king. When Naaman heard about a prophet in Israel who could cure him, he asked permission of his king to go and be healed. His king obviously regarded him highly, as he told him to go to, and sent with him silver, gold, and fine raiment with which to pay.

When Naaman found the prophet, he had high expectations. Naaman, even with a humbling health issue, thought himself worthy of great honor. He figured the great prophet would come out and call down power from his god above, and Naaman would be miraculously and stupendously healed – and he would have a great story to spread abroad about how important he was.

1 Samuel 16.7 …  for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Lord looks on the heart

But God knows the heart of man, and He knew the heart of this man, Naaman.

Instead Elisha, the prophet, sent his servant to deliver the instructions to Naaman: “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.”

Naaman was quite put out. He wanted nothing to do with a puny servant, he was important enough that the great prophet himself should come to him, he had brought awesome gifts to give for his healing, and that old Jordan was icky, anyway.

God must have given Naaman’s servant an inkling of the potential meekness in his master’s heart, for he begged of Naaman to reconsider. Surely Naaman would have done some mighty act of courage to clear his leprosy; he might as well do this simple thing.

Even if Naaman went into the Jordan with a stiff neck, God blessed him. God not only cleansed him from his leprosy, He also scoured out his pride. Naaman returned to Elisha’s house a changed man. He humbled himself. He acknowledged the Lord God as God of all the earth, he vowed to serve only the Lord God, and begged pardon for instances when he would have to bow with his master in the house of Rimmon.

God does not ask hard things of us. He asks obedience, and He blesses abundantly. Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, and see what He does.