Troubling Bible Passages

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Passages like Exodus 32 make me uncomfortable.

While Moses is up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God, The Israelites decide Moses is taking too long and they convince Aaron to make the Golden Calf and they begin worshiping it. Only days after experiencing God’s salvation from the Egyptians, Aaron has the audacity to make the Golden Calf and say, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.”

That’s messed up. That’s wrong in many ways.

I get that. But it’s the rest of the story in Exodus 32 that make me uncomfortable.

First thing that makes me uncomfortable about this passage is what God says. He wants to destroy the Israelites and start all over with Moses. Nothing new. God did this with Noah. And he tells Moses that he wants to do the same thing. It is Moses who has to convince God that this is not a good idea – rescue a people from Egypt just to destroy them when they are free.

Where is grace? Where is the opportunity for repentance?

The second thing that makes me uncomfortable about this passage is what Moses does. After he comes down the mountain, he sees the people worshiping the Golden Calf and loses it.

That much I get. It’s next part that’s hard to swallow. He then asks, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” Then he commands the Levites to slaughter about 3,000 people!

Hmmm.

What do we do with that?

Some reflections on this passage.

First, I have issues with this passage because I value human life. That’s good thing. That’s a Biblical thing. Life is a gift from God and no one ought to destroy the life God has given. The thing is, the Old Testament doesn’t seem to have the same world view regarding human life. I don’t know what to make of that.

Secondly, the reason why passages like this trouble me has to do with me. I don’t take sin nearly seriously enough. It’s not that I underestimate sin, it’s just that I don’t take sin and it’s consequences seriously enough.

God absolutely detests and hates sin. It’s not that God hates sin for sin’s sake. God detests and hates sin because of what sin does. Sin separates us from God. Sinners cannot stand in the presence of a holy and righteous God without being destroyed.

The reason why God hates and detests sin is because of what sin does to sinners. God loves sinners. The proof of God’s love is Jesus on the cross. God loves us so much that God had to make a way to undo sin. God transforms sinners to sons and daughters by the cross of Jesus.

Thank God for that!

The 23rd Psalm – There is Never a “There” Where God is Not There

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The 23rd Psalm is one of the most beloved psalms of the Bible.

It is easy to love the 23rd Psalm. Who doesn’t want to know about “The Lord” who “is my shepherd”? Green pastures, still waters, restoration of the soul?

That’s good stuff.

But I don’t think that’s what makes the 23rd Psalm great. The thing I appreciate about the 23rd Psalm is it doesn’t sugar coat life.

I often hear people say something like, “I just heard back from the doctors. The tests came back negative. It wasn’t cancer. God is so good.”

And I agree. I am glad that they are cancer free. And I am really glad that the tests came back negative because that’s what I had been praying for too.

But I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the tests came back positive and they did have cancer. Is God no longer good?

The thing about the 23rd Psalm is that “Even though I walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, Thou art with me. Thy rod, Thy staff they comfort me.”

Valleys of the shadow of death. Doesn’t very pleasant. Sounds downright frightening. But I am glad it’s there. Because, sometimes, life is downright frightening and unpleasant. And what God promises us is that God is there too – leading, guiding, comforting.

There is never a “there” where God is not there.

I love this Psalm. I love this Psalm because I know that God is always with me. Whether I am healthy or sick, whether I am rich or poor, no matter what God is with me. And God is with you.

Love the 23rd Psalm.

Then, I’ll Go With You

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There’s a story told from Civil War days before American slaves were freed about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, “You’re free.”

With amazement she responded, “You mean, I’m free to do whatever I want?”

“Yes,” he said.

“And to say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes, anything.”

“And to be whatever I want to be?”

“Yep.”

“And go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes,” he answered with a smile. “You’re free to go anywhere you’d like.”

She looked at him intently and replied, “Then I’ll go with you.”

 

Jesus paid the debt of sin by dying on the cross for sinners to set sinners free. But once free, our freedom isn’t freedom until we discover how to be who we are as a freed people. The only way to discover that freedom is by following the One who created us and saved us.

Go with him.

Go, follow Jesus.