The Start of Treachery
“And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ ” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.”
Exodus 32:7-14 NKJV
Moses went up the mountain and learned how to build the tabernacle from God. This represents marriage with God. In order for God to be with them, they had to prepare a place to abide together. Thus, God instructed them excitedly to build the tabernacle like the newlywed’s home, but the bride, who was an Israelite, slept with another man. And God knew about it. So, Jehovah said to Moses, “You must go down. The people I led out of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” They were committing adultery.
“They have turned aside quickly, out of the way which I commanded them.” They certainly turned aside and did so quickly too. They had just become engaged. But already they made a molded calf for themselves, worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, “This is your god that led you out of Egypt!” God’s wrath burned against them, and He said to Moses, “I will consume them and make of you a great nation.” But what happened? Moses pleaded with God in defence of the people saying, “If You destroy the people whom You delivered with great power and a mighty hand in this place, what would the Egyptians say. Please turn from Your wrath”.
He touched God’s sore spot. “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and promised them that You will be their inheritance forever.” There was no need to for more words. It says, “So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” This is God’s soft spot. In other words, God’s self-respect and second, God’s promise. Regardless of how much God’s wrath burned, if God was to destroy them, then the people would ridicule and say, “Is this all that God can do? Is this why He led His people out – so that they die in the desert?”
Another thing Moses did was to remind God of His promise. So that God turned away from His wrath and married them anyway. It is incredible. What would you do if your wife did such a thing? It could even lead to murder. I am sure it would. But God forgives them and proceeds with the marriage. But did this happen only that one time? During their time of forty years in the desert – which is not a long time since a person’s whole faith life may be forty years long – they committed such a serious sin like this ten times. For ten times.
Let us have a read of Numbers 14:22. Numbers 14:22, “because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice.” God says they did not heed His voice ten times. During the Old Testament times, the people who did not heed God’s voice all died. However, there is a difference between them and the people in the New Testament church. In the Old Testament times, the agent of faith was a group, namely Israel. God looked upon Israel as one and dealt with them as a whole. Therefore, what would be the worst curse in the Old Testament times? Just as God says, “I will remove him from amongst the people of Israel,” to be removed from the group is a curse because that person would have nothing to do with God from then on.
Thus, it was about God and Israel – God dealt with Israel as a whole. He did not deal with each individual. Though the men who did not heed God’s word ten times were all destroyed, since God was dealing with Israel as one, He had not forsaken them. Even though the people had sinned ten times, God never abandoned them. If you were to look at each individual, some of them perished and could not enter Canaan. Nevertheless, God never abandoned Israel, even if they might have sinned before Him ten times.
In the New Testament times, however, God looks at each person. Even though we are in Sungrak Church, it does not mean that everyone will be saved. Even within Sungrak Church, God looks upon each individual’s faith saves and rewards them individually. Hence, we have to know who we are. Thus, although each person might have sinned, God is He who never forsakes but forgives even seventy times seven times.
These people were sinning before God again and again. And God’s self-respect (pride) is very important. It is for this reason that God may even save people. So, what would be the sin that arouses God’s anger the most? What would be the sin that angers God and His wrath to burn? It is to hurt God’s pride. But what is it that hurts God’s pride above all? We can figure it out when we listen to the parable.
Let us say that a divorced woman gets married again. As she lives with her husband, they may get into arguments and quarrels and say nasty things to each other. They hurt each other’s pride. But even so, there is something that a remarried person should never do or say, no matter how upset they might be in an argument. It is to compare one’s husband or wife to their ex-husband or ex-wife. If the wife or the husband does this, it will be fatal to their relationship. Let us say that the husband says to his wife, “My late wife would say such and such to me in this situation. I would rather live with my dead wife than to live with you”. What would the wife do? She would end the relationship. Most people would. There are words you just should not say.
Countless people said such to God. Let us read Numbers 11:4-5. “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” These words definitely got on God’s nerves. But why did they say that? It is just because of some watermelon, fish, leeks, onion and garlic that so arouses God’s anger.
Have a read of verse 18. “Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore, the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat’.” God holds grudges. What did He say? “I heard you say that you liked it in Egypt. Fine, I will give you meat to eat.” It was as though God had hard feelings towards them for their words. Those people ultimately died. A great number of them died before they even got to eat meat.
In this way, they had hurt God’s pride, yet God forgave them, even ten times. For ten times He forgave them, and even after that, it was not only ten times but hundreds and thousands of times that He continued to forgive. He waited, anticipating that they would change, that they would truly love God. He waited hundreds of years, but they never changed, and in the end, God decided He would do something about it because He knew that at that rate, He will never be able to abide with them. He decided to establish a new covenant. Thus, He sent Jesus Christ, and after consecrating the heart of man, He finally was able to be with us. He sent the Holy Spirit to us.
Likewise, God fulfils that which He promised. Although man is so wicked, that stop breaking God’s will. The will of God to give us the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ and to abide with us forever in heaven cannot be broken, no matter how wicked man might be. Who can possibly argue about the love of God, that He has no love and is cruel? That is why the Bible says repeatedly in Psalms that God abounds in grace and compassion.
That is why when the people heard about God through Moses, they misunderstood God, and they thought God was only fearsome and terrible. But Jesus Christ clearly revealed God’s compassion. Nevertheless, if one still has a misunderstanding of God and keeps comparing God to another, saying things like they liked it better in the world or liked another god, how much would he be hurting God’s pride? We should no longer do that but confess God’s mercifulness without any fear of going before Him. Whoever has received His grace and mercy ought to always have joy and happiness in his soul.
Sometimes, while praying, I cry out and shout. But it is a shout of joy. In the middle of praying, when I think about the fact that God is with me, I feel so joyful that it makes me shout. It is not because I prayed long but because I am so joyful. Let us pray that we can be filled with God’s joy.
God our Father, we who are here confess that God is truly with us, and thus, our souls are full of joy and happiness. Father God, through that life in us, may every weakness and evil and every abominable thing be driven out. Lord, help us in this hour and drive out of us every kind of sickness and burdens from our hearts. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on November 1, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team