May 31, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“When God Delays”

Exodus 32:11

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.”

My experience in ministry has mostly been with college students and young adults/singles, which often lends itself to conversations on dating. The question of “Will I find the right person?” can come off as a lighthearted, rhetorical question, cringing at “the game.” Other times, this question evokes deep seated fear and anxiety. People pray, waiting upon God. But they often wonder if they need to start taking action on their own.

In today’s passage, we see the Israelites growing tired and even anxious about waiting for Moses’ return. Not to say that taking action, whether in dating or any situation in life, is bad, but when we begin to take things into our own control, we often find ourselves in opposition to God.

Moses as a prophet was God’s representative to the people. The people could only understand the voice of God through Moses. So his delay from the mountain was not just a missing man, but it was the absence of God for the Israelites. Rather than waiting in this vast desert, aimlessly waiting for a man who for all they knew could be dead, they took matters into their own hands. And what resulted was an egregious act of defiance that became the iconic picture of sin.

The Bible repeatedly calls us to wait patiently upon the Lord. But in reality, all of us can think of times where waiting feels unproductive. We justify our actions through pseudo-religious principles, choosing what we think is best. The result is an object of worship of our own making, an altar dedicated to something not worthy of our lives.

What we must understand is that this is more than what we do. It is about what we are professing through our actions. In other words, our actions reflect our understanding of God. In verse 4, after the golden calf is made, Aaron proclaims, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” We see how twisted and misrepresented God becomes in our minds. The work of our own hands receives the credit for the blessings of our lives.

This iconic story serves as a warning to us, not just about the dangers of idolatry, but more so, concerning the times we grow impatient and act on our own accord. It is in these moments that we must remind ourselves who it is that actually delivered us from our spiritual Egypt. We must remind ourselves of the unchanging character of God—God who has loved us with an everlasting love. And when theology that we profess aligns to that of God’s true character, we are then in a place where we can hear His voice and act accordingly.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for taking over the direction of my life whenever I become impatient over the “deliberate speed” in which You guide my life.  Help me, once again, to trust You and Your plan for my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 21


Lunch Break Study  

Read 1 Samuel 13:8-13a: [Saul] waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you.

Questions to Consider

  1. Take some time to decipher what exactly is going on in the passage (you may need to skim through the rest whole section to understand the context). What exactly is happening?
  2. What did Saul do wrong? What does this reveal about who Saul was or what was going on through his mind? What does it reveal about his understanding of God?
  3. It’s easy for us to look at passages and in hindsight, see things very black and white. But try to understand the kind of pressures that were surrounding Saul. In what ways might you be tempted to take things into your own hands?

Notes

  1. This is early in Saul’s reign over Israel (2 years, [1]). Jonathan, Saul’s son, attacked the Philistines in Geba [3], and now the Philistines were coming to retaliate [5]. Seeing the approaching Philistines, Israel became afraid and started to scatter, hiding away in caves… and pits [6]. Saul was waiting for Samuel to come to intercede on behalf of Israel; however, when Samuel is delayed, Saul takes things into his own hands and offers a burnt offering himself [9]. Samuel comes as soon as Saul finishes, rebuking Saul for his actions and the pending punishment that is to come because of Saul’s disobedience.
  2. Saul disobeyed God’s commands on who is to present offering that is acceptable before Him. A few things we can gather: (1) Saul thought the offering was more important than obeying God’s instructions; this is typical of someone who practices religion over relationship with God – the act of worship is more important than the heart of worship; (2) Saul was afraid because the people were scattering and needed to take control of the situation; (3) perhaps Saul looked to God as more of a “lucky charm” than One who was to be revered and worshipped.
  3. Personal response. More than we realize, we might have more “Saul-like” tendencies than we’d like to think.

Evening Reflection

Is there anything you are waiting on the Lord? Take a moment to remind yourself who God is, especially in light of the passages that we spent time in today. Spend some time in prayer, sharing your honest struggle with waiting; yet confess your faith in who God is.

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