Posts tagged ‘Aaron’

Slow in Anger and Full of Grace

When God appears in a burning bush to Moses and charges him to lead the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt, Moses is fiercely skeptical of God’s rescue mission. He begins by expressing skepticism that the Israelites he is called to rescue won’t express some sort of skepticism:

What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The LORD did not appear to you”? (Exodus 4:1)

God responds by giving Moses the power to perform some miracles to back up his divinely mandated mantle – he can turn his staff into a snake, make his hand leprous and then heal it again, and turn water from the Nile into blood.

But Moses is still not so sure. He is not only skeptical that the Israelites won’t be skeptical; he is also skeptical that he will be able to deliver God’s message:

Pardon Your servant, LORD. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since You have spoken to Your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue. (Exodus 4:10)

God insists that Moses will do just fine. After all, He created Moses’ mouth, and He will speak through Moses’ mouth.

But Moses’ problem, it turns out, is not one of Israelite skepticism or a fear of public speaking. Instead, it is simply an old-fashioned stubborn will:

Pardon Your servant, LORD. Please send someone else. (Exodus 4:13)

Moses simply does not want to be bothered with God’s mission. And God is not happy:

Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses. (Exodus 4:14)

Usually, when the Lord’s anger burns, He acts accordingly. When the Israelites build a false god in the form of a golden calf, God says to Moses, “Now leave Me alone so that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them” (Exodus 32:10). By the end of the chapter, we read: “The LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made” (Exodus 32:35). When the Israelites grumble against God immediately after He provides them with a superabundance of quail, we see that “while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and He struck them with a severe plague” (Numbers 11:33).

With the Lord’s anger burning against Moses in Exodus 14, we would expect God to take decisive discipline measures against Moses. What will God do? Strike Moses with a plague? Swallow him up into the earth? Turn the burning bush into a flaming inferno that consumes him?

God does none of these things. Instead:

He said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.” (Exodus 4:14-16)

God, instead of destroying Moses because of his lack of confidence in Him, gives Moses a companion in his brother. God’s anger may burn, but so does His grace.

When Moses is up on Mount Sinai meeting with God, God proclaims His character to Moses:

The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6-7)

It turns out that not only is God slow to anger, He is also slow in anger. Yes, sometimes His anger results in disciplinary action. But in Moses’ case in Exodus 4, God’s anger was subsumed by God’s grace. In place of judgment, God gave Moses his brother.

When we sin, God can – and, indeed, does – get angry. But as with Moses, God’s anger is ultimately subsumed by God’s grace. And in place of judgment, God gives us a brother:

Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they told Him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for You.” “Who are My mother and My brothers?” He asked. Then He looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:31-34)

God is slow in anger – even with us.

May 17, 2021 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

ABC Extra – The Power of Peer Pressure

This weekend in worship and ABC, we discussed the family fiasco of addiction.  The statistics pertaining to various addictions are startling:

  • 23% of adults consume more than five alcoholic beverages each day.
  • Each year, nearly 35 million people try to quit smoking.  Less than 7% are successful.
  • 25 million Americans visit cyber-sex sites between one and ten hours per week. Another 4.7 million spend in excess of 11 hours per week on these sites.

Clearly, we are a culture trapped by our addictive behaviors.

Sadly, these addictive behaviors often start when a person is young.  Teenagers are drawn into habits of smoking, drinking, drug use, and sexual immorality, usually because their friends pressure them to engage in such activities.  Consider these statistics:

  • The Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base reports that 30% of teens are offered drugs in middle and high school.
  • According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 74% of high school students have tried alcohol at the encouragement of their friends.
  • The Kaiser Foundation reports that 50% of teenagers feel pressured to engage in sexually promiscuous relationships.

Peer pressure is clearly alive and well among our youth.  Indeed, it is thriving.  The problem is, peer pressure coerces many of our kids straight into harmful addictions.

One of the myths about peer pressure is that it is a relatively new phenomenon.  In another survey, teens were asked whether or not peer pressure affected people 100 years ago.  46% of the respondents said that peer pressure affected teens “significantly less” than it does today while another 16% said that peer pressure didn’t affect teens at all a century ago.

In reality, peer pressure is nothing new.  In our text from this weekend, we encounter an instance of peer pressure when the Israelites “gather around Aaron and say, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us” (Exodus 32:1).  Notably, the word for “around” – when the Israelites gather “around” Aaron – is al.  Al is a notoriously ambiguous preposition and can be translated as everything from “upon” to “beside” to “beyond” to “towards” to “against.”  In other words, it is a catchall preposition.  Many scholars believe that, in Exodus 32:1, al is best translated as “against.”  That is, the Israelites gather against Aaron to put some pressure on him to cast a false idol.  In a phrase, the Israelites place Aaron under the weight of “peer pressure.”

Tragically, Aaron caves to the Israelites’ al. He builds their false idol.  And, just as in a case of addiction, the Israelites become enslaved to this idol as they worship it even as a drug addict is enslaved to heroin or a food addict is enslaved to sweets.  And it all begins with the Israelites’ peer pressure on Aaron.

How do you respond to peer pressure that would lead you down a dead end road to sin?  Do you cave in as Aaron did, or do you take a stand even when people are against you?  Another famed biblical character, King David, knew well the heartache of having people against him.  He cries out to God, “O LORD, how many are my foes!  How many rise up against me” (Psalm 3:1).  But unlike Aaron, David does not cave to peer pressure.  For David knows, “You, O LORD, are a shield around me” (Psalm 3:3).  David remains steadfast, even in the face of the menacing al of his foes.  My prayer for you this week is that when the world would come against you with its addictions, you would stand steadfast in Christ’s righteousness.

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!

May 24, 2010 at 4:45 am 2 comments


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