When we encounter the Israelites in the wilderness, we have to try to understand this monumental feat God was doing.
To reiterate some things we have already said, God had taken these people and set them apart for 400 years to make them bond as a nation. Then He had demonstrated His power through awesome signs and wonders. Now He was going to institute some of His laws for them to follow as a nation – laws which would introduce the concepts of loving God and loving their neighbors.
So while Moses was up on Mount Sinai visiting with God, the people forgot all they had been through, and they turned away. Even Aaron, the priest, fell into the trap – and they made a golden calf to worship instead of the true God.
Quick, decisive, disciplinary action is what followed. It had to be. The whole plan of salvation would be ruined if God couldn’t get some people to be faithful to Him for a season. He had to find those who would believe in Him. Hard, but necessary.
So the second set of tablets was given to Moses, along with a special time in the presence of God – so much so that his face was shining with God’s glory.
When we fast forward to this gospel, it is interesting that our heavenly Father is still having to deal with unfaithful men. The scribes and the Pharisees are more interested in receiving honor for themselves than giving it to God. So they parade around in clerical attire, expecting people to do their bidding, but they have substituted hard burdens and their skewed concepts for the true law of God.
They ignore “justice, and mercy, and faith” (v 23), while paying great attention to less important issues. They are “blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” (v 24).
So such is the heart of man if it goes unchecked. It will always revert back to selfishness and greed, and run toward substitutions for the true God.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just as Moses stayed true and Jesus’ followers stayed true, we can also. We do it by keeping ourselves saturated with the presence of God. In His presence, everything looks different. We see His power and glory – and purpose, and it causes us to thrust aside the mundane issues which would try to hinder us.
When we go after God, His Word, and His presence, we escape the carnality that would try to tear us down and disqualify us from His purpose.
May you have a great day of following Him today!