This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Exodus 32:1-14:
“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 answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He 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.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. 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, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” (Exodus 32:1–14, NIV)
Thinking about God’s example described through today’s passage might be described as an intercessory example for us all. Considering the very human tendency to stray and wander, we too often find ourselves the subject, or agent, of accusatory finger pointing. Still, I would argue that it's just not that easy to remain with that kind of posture for very long. If we dig in to form a defensive position or push forward in an offensive attack, both tactics utilize blame and complaint, seeking justification for either point of view. It takes a lot of energy, and one can easily grow exhausted in the fight.
Perhaps then, we might find a little wisdom within God's tendency to reconsider and forgive when offended, and in this case at least, where God ended up turning away from wrath.
It’s one of many biblical examples which speak to what I believe is a stronger, more natural feeling of being human together: where love and good fellowship rule the day; where encouraging one another is how problems are overcome; and where our tendency to stray is not only guided through the wisdom and experience of those around us, but more importantly by the forgiving example of God who loves us.
Rev. Richard Wagner
Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service
October 12, 2017