Sunday, March 18, 2012

The God of second chances

Exodus 32:1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

How an opportunity with God was squandered
Moses the man of God had been atop Mount Sinai for quite some time.  It had been 50 days since the Lord had led the people out of Egypt across the Red Sea on dry ground.  They had witnessed the ten plagues and they had been given the Law of God.  They witnessed the thunder and lightening of God's very presence atop the Mountain.  They were poised and postioned by God to achieve great things for His glory.  Moses was ready to deliver to them the revelation of Grace - the Tabernacle.  All was set.  It should not had happened - but it did.

The people presumed that Moses had delivered them, rather than God through Moses.  According to other scripture passages, the people concluded in their minds that Egypt was way better than their life with God.  According to Psalm 106:20-21, they exchanged the God of glory for a calf made of gold, and they forgot the Savior who had redeemed them.  Nehemiah 9:17a states -  “They refused to listen, and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt."  They squandered their chance with God.

Much like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in Genesis 3, the opportunity of the ages was set before the people.  Yet apart from relying upon the grace of God, man chose to rely upon his own strength.  The episode here at Sinai gives us a slice of what every human being has done - exchanging the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1:24)

God had the right to Judge and destroy
What these people had done was tantamount to High Holy Treason.  They exchanged God's glory for a calf. (Psalm 106:20-21)  They rejoiced in their own works, rather than in His work. (Acts 7:41)  When Moses got word from God that this breach of covenant was taking place at the base of the mountain, he plead to God on their behalf to stay His hand of judgment.  Exodus 32 records for us that for Moses' sake and the sake of the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God did postpone judgment. 

As Moses ran down the side of the Mountain, Joshua, his faithful aid, said to Moses at the end of Exodus 32 that he could hear the sounds of shouting and victory.  Moses comments that it was not the sounds of war, but of worship.  Ironically what both men were hearing was true.  In the idolatry of false worship is the declaration of war from sinful man on Holy God.  True worship is when we are exalting God the King and declaring war on the enemy.  No doubt, like all humanity, the evidence was overwhelming in sentencing man to judgment and destruction.  Yet, as you read on into Eoxdus 32-34, you discover that on that day, it was Mercy that said no.  Why?

Why God chose to render mercy
Why did God choose to render mercy?  Three things were present at this scene in Eoxdus 32-34. 
1. A Mediator was present.  Moses, the man of God, pleads twice in this episode for God to spare the people of God. 

2. Marvelous promises were present.  As Moses pleads on the people's behalf, Moses reminds God of the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The Mosaic covenant demanded death to the sinner.  The Covenant of works in written form had been breached.  Moses' act of breaking those tablets only illustrated the point.  Yet Moses' appeal to the Covenant of Grace spelled out to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the only basis for mercy. 

3. Mourning repentance was present.  The people, in the sight and in the words of God in Exodus 33:5-6, took off their ornaments.  They showed, at least outwardly, that they wanted to turn from their sin, and that they mourned over how they had regarded the one who had saved them.  Repentance, like faith, is a Divine gifting, wherein the decision to repent and faith occurs.  (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:25-26)  

Why God is the Second chance God today
The Mediator is Present

Exodus 32-34 illustrates for us how it is God is the second chance God.  Moses' mediation for the people pictures the ultimate mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2) 

The Marvelous Promise of the Cross, was accomplished
The promise of God to send His Son into the world to die for sinners was the ultimate basis for God being the second chance God without violating His justice.  2 Timothy 1:9 tells us that He saved us and called us with a Holy calling, not based on anything we had done, but by His grace which was granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began."   

Mourning Repentance must be presence to receive the second chance
Then finally, only when faith and repentance is present can the sinner have the means whereby God grants that second chance.  When the Spirit of God so moves in your heart, by His grace you are convinced to turn from your sin (repentance) and trust in Jesus (faith). 

God is not only the God of the second chance, He is the God of second chances.  For following salvation, whenever a child of God sins, 1 John 1:9 tells us that when we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive us all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  I'm so glad that even though I deserve the yes of justice and judgment, instead by His grace through faith and repentance I can stand confidently in the "No condemnation" of mercy. (Romans 5:1-5; 8:1) 

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