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No Idea What They’re Doing

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February 2013
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XToday’s Bible reading: Exodus 34-35:9; Matthew 27:15-31; Psalm 33:12-22; Proverbs 9:1-6

Yesterday  Moses broke the original Ten Commandments that God had given him on Mt. Sinai. Today God gives Moses a replacement set. While on the mountain this time God declares to Moses who He is. He is a God of compassion and mercy, patient, loving, and faithful (Exodus 34:6). People often confuse God’s patience with non-existence. They think that because He isn’t destroying sinners that He must not exist. That is not the right way to look at God. He is long-suffering, as the Bible says. He sees our sin and is hurt by it because He knows that it is hurting us. But He isn’t going to get angry about it too quickly. He has a long fuse. He is patient with us, working in our lives to try to get us to see things His way.

God does not excuse the guilty, even though His patience may make it seem like He is. His goal is not to destroy us – He created each of us to spend forever with Him. But make no mistake – all sin will be punished.

Moses’s immediate reaction to God’s statement is to worship Him and to ask Him to be with him and the people. When we realize exactly who God is there is no other reaction that is appropriate except to give ourselves over to Him completely. His kindness and goodness will never harm us. We have nothing to fear in God.

Exodus 34:10 tells us exactly why God had chosen Israel to be His people. He was going to show the entire world who He was by the way He dealt with Israel. The way He loved them. The way He protected them. The way He disciplined them. All this was meant to glorify Himself and draw even more people away from their false gods and into a relationship with Him.

God tells Israel not to get involved with the sinful people they will encounter. They are to destroy these people’s pagan religious sites. They should not worship any of these false gods. Nor should they intermarry with them or create any treaties or agreements with them. Doing so would pollute Israel. Notice how much God loves Israel – He does not want to see them corrupted. He is jealous for them (Exodus 34:14)

In Exodus 35 God repeats His command to keep the Sabbath. Why does God repeat things? Because they are important and because we forget. Moses also collects an offering from the people to build the Tabernacle. God could easily have made these things appear out of nowhere. But that is not how He works. He is a giving God and He wants us to be a giving people. Many non believers like to point out the church’s asking for money each Sunday claiming that “religion” is just about money. I used to think that too. But God wants us to be generous because He is generous. We are to reflect His character.

The tide turns for good against Jesus today in Matthew 27. Pilate was prepared to release Jesus from custody. In fact Pilate knew that Jesus was completely innocent (Matthew 27:18, 23, 24).  But the religious leaders turn the crowd against Him (Jesus). Just a few days before they were hailing Him as He rode into Jerusalem. Now they want Him crucified. They don’t just want Him to go away. They want Him dead. That is a pretty big shift of opinion especially considering how Jesus had done nothing but help people throughout His entire ministry.

But Pilate makes the politically safe choice. He sees that a riot will break out if he releases Jesus and he doesn’t want that so he sends Jesus to His death. The religious leaders basically used the crowd to get what they wanted. They could probably tell that Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and they were probably losing influence over his decision. So they instigated the one thing that Pilate feared – the populace. These men were religious leaders but were simply self-absorbed and arrogant. Their power had clearly gone to their heads and they were insulted by the truth that Jesus spoke. Rather than examine themselves they used their power and influence to suppress that truth thinking they were doing themselves a favor. But in actuality, they were hurting not only themselves but the many people they lead astray from the salvation that only Jesus could offer.

The call of the crowd to crucify Jesus is amazing. Crucifixion was a Roman method of torture and execution that was carried out on  their subjects (it was never used on Roman citizens). Jews (and all people under Roman control) feared crucifixion and hated it as being unjust. So for a crowd of Jewish people to be calling for the Romans to crucify someone really speaks to how out of control they were.

In Matthew 27:26 Pilate orders Jesus to be flogged. Thus begins the process of Jesus’s death. Before being crucified victims were whipped by a whip with small pieces of stone or metal embedded in it. This would remove the skin exposing the raw flesh so that when the victim pushed himself up on the cross in order to breath he would experience incredibly intense pain as his exposed flesh scrapped against the wood of the cross. In fact the pain of being hung on a cross was so extreme and unique that a new word had to be invented for it: “excruciating” meaning “from” (ex) the cross (“crux”).

Previously Jesus had been mocked by the Jewish leaders. Now the Roman soldiers mock him as well. As I read this I couldn’t help think of those today who spit in the face of Jesus and mock Him. Just like the Roman soldiers they have no idea what they are doing. I should  know… I used to be one of those people who mocked Jesus and considered Him to be a fraud. I thought I was right but I later realized that I, too, had no idea what I was doing. I was acting out of ignorance. When I think back to those days I can’t help but be overjoyed at the forgiveness God has granted me.

Isn’t it interesting that Matthew was not present at any of these events as he and the rest of the disciples had fled yet he records what happened. I would guess that is because one of these very Roman soldiers later repented and came to believe in Jesus and subsequently told his story to Matthew. Isn’t that interesting?

I mentioned a few weeks ago that all believers are a “nation”. Today Psalms tells that as a nation of God we should be filled with joy.

Notice that God sees everything that happens on earth. Those who mock Him or say He doesn’t exist think they are getting away with something. But they aren’t. God “understands everything we do” (Psalms 33:15). That not only goes for the bad things we do but the good too (“everything”). When we do something good but don’t get credit for it or get ridiculed by others for doing it God sees. He sees the intent in every action and every thought.

We can put our hope in nothing but God (Psalms 33:20). There is nothing else on earth that can save us.

In Proverbs 9 we see wisdom calling those who lack good judgment (Proverbs 9:4). Wisdom lives at the highest point of the city (verse 3) so she is easily seen; everyone knows where to find wisdom. I found verse 6 very interesting. Wisdom leads to true living. While all may be alive, those of us who lack wisdom aren’t truly living. If we seek and obtain wisdom our lives will be fulfilled. By comparison, living as a simpleton will only provide temporary pleasures but not fulfillment.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post


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