Worship Service 15 October 2017
Delivered By
Pastor Doug Groen and Laverne Wiginton Accompanist
Delivered On
October 15, 2017 at 10:00 AM
Central Passage
Exodus 32:1-14
The Changing Mind of God


      Exodus 32:1-14;

Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23;

Philippians 4:1-9;

Matthew 22:1-14

Exodus 32:1-14

Israel Worships a Golden Calf

32 The people saw that Moses took a long time to come down from the mountain. So they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, “Come. Make us a god that will lead us. This fellow Moses brought us up out of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take the gold earrings off your wives, your sons and your daughters. Bring the earrings to me.” So all the people took off their earrings. They brought them to Aaron. He took what they gave him and made it into a metal statue of a god. It looked like a calf. Aaron shaped it with a tool. Then the people said, “Israel, here is your god who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw what they were doing, he built an altar in front of the calf. He said, “Tomorrow will be a feast day to honor the Lord.” So the next day the people got up early. They sacrificed burnt offerings and brought friendship offerings. They sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to dance wildly in front of their god.

The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Go down. Your people you brought up out of Egypt have become very sinful. They have quickly turned away from what I commanded them. They have made themselves a metal statue of a god in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down and sacrificed to it. And they have said, ‘Israel, here is your god who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses. “They are stubborn. 10 Now leave me alone. I will destroy them because of my great anger. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses asked the Lord his God to have mercy on the people. “Lord,” he said, “why should you destroy your people in anger? You used your great power and mighty hand to bring them out of Egypt. 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out to hurt them. He wanted to kill them in the mountains. He wanted to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn away from your great anger. Please take pity on your people. Don’t destroy them! 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel. You made a promise to them in your own name. You said, ‘I will make your children after you as many as the stars in the sky. I will give them all this land I promised them. It will belong to them forever.’ ” 14 Then the Lord took pity on his people. He didn’t destroy them as he had said he would.

Psalm 106:1-6

Praise the Lord.

Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good.
    His faithful love continues forever.
Who can speak enough about the mighty acts of the Lord?
    Who can praise him as much as he should be praised?
Blessed are those who always do what is fair.
    Blessed are those who keep doing what is right.
Lord, remember me when you bless your people.
    Help me when you save them.
Then I will enjoy the good things you give your chosen ones.
    I will be joyful together with your people.
    I will join them when they praise you.

We have sinned, just as our people of long ago did.
    We too have done what is evil and wrong.

Psalm 106:19-23

19 At Mount Horeb they made a metal statue of a bull calf.
    They worshiped that statue of a god.
20 They traded their glorious God
    for a statue of a bull that eats grass.
21 They forgot the God who saved them.
    They forgot the God who had done great things in Egypt.
22 They forgot the miracles he did in the land of Ham.
    They forgot the wonderful things he did by the Red Sea.
23 So he said he would destroy them.
    But Moses, his chosen one,
stood up for them.
    He kept God’s anger from destroying them.

Philippians 4:1-9

Remain Strong in the Lord

4 My brothers and sisters, in this way remain strong in the Lord. I love you and long for you. Dear friends, you are my joy and my crown.

Here is what I’m asking Euodia and Syntyche to do. I’m asking them to work together in the Lord. That’s because they both belong to the Lord. My true companion, here is what I ask you to do. Help these women, because they have served at my side. They have worked with me to spread the good news. So have Clement and the rest of those who have worked together with me. Their names are all written in the book of life.

Final Commands

Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.

Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. Do what you have learned or received or heard from me. Follow my example. The God who gives peace will be with you.

Matthew 22:1-14

The Story of the Wedding Dinner

22 Jesus told them more stories. He said, “Here is what the kingdom of heaven is like. A king prepared a wedding dinner for his son. He sent his slaves to those who had been invited to the dinner. The slaves told them to come. But they refused.

“Then he sent some more slaves. He said, ‘Tell those who were invited that I have prepared my dinner. I have killed my oxen and my fattest cattle. Everything is ready. Come to the wedding dinner.’

“But the people paid no attention. One went away to his field. Another went away to his business. The rest grabbed his slaves. They treated them badly and then killed them. The king became very angry. He sent his army to destroy them. They killed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then the king said to his slaves, ‘The wedding dinner is ready. But those I invited were not fit to come. So go to the street corners. Invite to the dinner anyone you can find.’ 10 So the slaves went out into the streets. They gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good. Soon the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “The king came in to see the guests. He noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man couldn’t think of anything to say.

13 “Then the king told his slaves, ‘Tie up his hands and feet. Throw him outside into the darkness. Out there people will weep and grind their teeth.’

14 “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Pastor's Summary of Exodus 32:1-14

The people of Israel have received the Ten Commandments verbally,  but Moses is still up on Mount Sinai receiving them in writing. To the people, he is "delayed" (or shamefully late, per another translation). They ask Aaaron to "make gods", thus breaking the first (and second) Commandments. Why is "gods" plural? Either Aaron compromises by only making one calf, or (more likely) the story as handed down orally mentioned only one. Then, when it was written down, the plural was used. But why? After Solomon's death  (in 930 BC), Israel split into two kingdoms. To avoid people visiting Jerusalem (which was in the south), the king of the northern kingdom, Jeroboam, had two golden calves made, and had one set up at each of two alternative places of worship (see I Kings 12:28-30). The writer had two objectives (which to us conflict here): (1) to record history, and (2) to teach that Jerusalem was the only proper center of worship.  In our reading, the people willfully rebel against God. (Modern Jewish translations consider Elohim, god or "gods", to be singular, thus implying that Judasim has always been monotheistic.)

In v. 7, by telling Moses that Israel is "your" people, God threatens Israel. He says that they have "acted perversely" or succumbed to moral decay. (The word translated "revel" in v. 6 has connotations of immorality.) God threatens his "wrath" (v. 10); he even offers to make Moses the founder of a new "great nation". But Moses does not give in to this temptation; rather he stands by Israel. He pleads with God: you have looked after us so far, so why quite now? Won't the Egyptians be able to claim that you are evil: that you led the people of Israel out into the desert in order to kill them? (v. 12) Please God, don't go back on your promises to the patriarchs!

In v. 14, God does change "his mind" or lets himself be sorry, but in vv. 15-35 Moses gets angry with the people, smashes the law tablets, burns and grinds up the calf, and makes the people drink water polluted with the resulting gold powder. Aaron offers a weak excuse for his actions (the people made me do it; the fire formed the gold into a calf) and the Levites, as ordered by God through Moses, put some of the people to death, as punishment.  Moses wins pardon for the people, but God punishes all with a plague.