He remains

Exodus 40:34-38 (NIV): ‘Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out – until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.’

I thought this observation of Selwyn’s to be interesting: ‘As the glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle (even) Moses is unable to enter, just as later, the priests would be unable to minister in the Temple when the glory cloud filled it. (1 Kings 8:10)

Another area, which I liked, is this: ‘As we leave this astonishing book let’s do so with a heart full of gratitude that the God of Exodus is still the same today. He still hears the cry of his people, still saves and delivers, still speaks and stays true to His covenant, still guides and is present with us on our pilgrimage to the promised new creation.

It’s my view that many have lost sight of our amazing God of both the Old and New Testaments, who rescued the Israelites from bondage and led them to the promised land. An awe inspiring God whose majesty and authority was evident in all that He did.

In Psalm 95:6-7, we read these words: ‘Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice.’

It’s sad that some only see Jesus as a good friend who understands their frail nature and forgives their sins. They appear to be blind to His majesty, and don’t think it’s essential to bow down in worship.

The last prayer for this issue, is a good place to end: ‘Gracious Father, I thank You that I have fellowship with a God who designed my freedom, delivers me from bondage, carries me through life’s wilderness, and promises me He will never leave me. I can go on now, no matter what. Amen.


The high point of maturity

The reading for today is Exodus 40:1-33 (NIV) – I’ve selected a few verses: ’40:1-2 Then the Lord said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. …

40:16 Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him. …

40:30-32 He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the Lord commanded Moses. … ‘

Selwyn writes: ‘Throughout the construction of the tabernacle Moses was motivated and driven by one all-consuming passion – to do everything just as God had commanded him. There were no shortcuts, no lowering of standards, no cutting of corners. …

Earlier we said that one of the greatest virtues we can possess in relation to God is obedience. … What place does obedience have in your life? The apostle Peter tells us that ‘we have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood.’ (1 Peter 1:2).

The final achievement in the outworking of God’s purpose in redemption is that our lives should be brought into correspondence with His will, [through obedience].’

In the various gospels we are taught by Jesus to live according to a specific set of commands; we can never say that we don’t know how to be obedient to God’s will. If you have attended a church for longer than three years you should have heard most of the New Testament and a good part of the Old Testament, and most of Scripture is not hard to understand, considering that we have God’s Spirit to help us – to understand His Word.

Yet, there is a trend in the western world to minimise the truth of the Gospel in favour of the popular, ‘feel-good’ viewpoints of society. Those of us, who use Scripture to highlight the truth, that there are some who are not following the teachings of Jesus, are ridiculed. Sadly, there are many Christians whose first response to any criticism of disobedience – is ‘we should not judge another person‘. Yet, it’s clear from Scripture that we must make a judgement regarding people’s actions, especially when those actions clearly contradict Jesus’ words.

Lets be clear about this point, we are not to judge another person in terms of condemning them – regarding punishment, or in any way –  treat them as inferior. Only God can judge the state of a person’s heart in regard to their culpability; in a similar way, we are not to judge in cases such as this; (Romans 14:3-4), ‘The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

So, there are times we are to make judgements (perhaps a better word – is, to discern), about people’s specific actions but not about their standing with God. A few examples: in the following verses, Paul is saying that we can discern when a person is being divisive; ‘Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.’ (Titus 3:9-11)

And, again in Ephesians 5:5-7. Paul is clearly saying that we need to make judgements about people’s actions, and in the worst cases – we are not to be partners with them: ‘No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.’

Likewise, this verse from 1 Corinthians 5:11 – implies a judgement of people’s behaviour: ‘Now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.’

In the various gospels, we find examples where the disciples had to make judgements regarding people’s behaviour, Luke 9:5, “If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” I hope it’s clear that we are to make judgements regarding people’s behaviour when their actions are clearly in conflict with Jesus’ teaching – what we are not to do – is to condemn them, regarding punishment (that’s God’s role), or to feel superior to them in any way (for we all have sinned).

In summary, I think the best course of action is to be obedient to Jesus Christ and then the rest falls into place – the Holy Spirit will assist us, in how we should respond to people; who clearly demonstrate that they have no interest in following Jesus’ commands.

Any comments?


Exodus 35:1 – 39:43 (NIV), I’ve just put in the beginning and the ending of these 5 chapters of Exodus, these chapters go into the directions for making the tabernacle and associated items: 35:1 – 3, 10 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the Lord has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day. …  All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded: … ”

Exodus 39:32-43 ‘So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses. Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; the covering of ram skins dyed red and the covering of another durable leather and the shielding curtain; the ark of the covenant law with its poles and the atonement cover; the table with all its articles and the bread of the Presence; the pure gold lampstand with its row of lamps and all its accessories, and the olive oil for the light; the gold altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the curtain for the entrance to the tent; the bronze altar with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the ropes and tent pegs for the courtyard; all the furnishings for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; and the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when serving as priests.

The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.’

I’ll quote a lot of what Selwyn has written in today’s study, because I find it hard to summarise, without losing some of its attraction.

He writes: “… Notice the following: the seven times God spoke to Moses, ending with the Sabbath: the bringing of all the rich resources of God’s world into order and beauty; the action of the creative Spirit of God; the fact that the work is said to be completed; the way Moses inspects the work, pronounces himself satisfied and blesses it; and, the commencement date on the first day of the first month. 

All of these features echo the account in Genesis 1. In other words, just as the Sabbath sanctifies time so the tabernacle sanctifies space. In the midst of a fallen, disordered, rebellious world the tabernacle is one place where the original beauty and design and purpose of creation as a vehicle for God’s glorious presence can be seen!

The old covenant has passed away, there’s no temple, and the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant have also passed away – there are destroyed or lost –  in ‘time’. So what do we have to demonstrate God’s glorious presence? Ourselves – as followers of Jesus, we reflect His love to the world, as we make Him known.

In John 4:19-26, we read: ‘”Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.

Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you – I am he.”’

Here, we hear Jesus saying that the purpose for the Jewish temple in Jerusalem is finished – there is no need for another temple to be built in Jerusalem. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 3:16-17, he says: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

The related point is this, we don’t need the commandments to be written in stone and to be carried around so that we can remind ourselves of their content. For in Hebrews 10:15-16, we read: ‘The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. … ”. We carry around, God’s laws – all the time; we can never lose them, because they are written on our hearts and minds.

In summary, we too – have God’s presence always with us – and we can experience the joy of knowing that He is leading us home, to eternal peace. In 1 Peter 1:8-9, we have these great words: “Though you have not seen Jesus, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


[ To Follow Jesus – Shayne McCusker – ©2013]

God’s autobiography

Exodus 34:1-35 (NIV) (I’ve only included a few verses from the set reading): ’34:1 The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.” …

34:5-8 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord.  And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “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. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes [allows the consequences of sin] the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshipped.

34:10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. …

34:15-17 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. Do not make any idols.

34:18 Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. …

34:21-22 Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. …

34:27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” …

34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. …

Here are the main points (for me), that Selwyn makes in today’s study: ‘The Lord reveals that He is compassionate and gracious. and full of unconditional love. The outflow of this is God’s faithfulness – a consistency of purpose and commitment to His promises that reflects His own integrity and His willingness to forgive. … 

Later we read that Moses is seen with his face aglow. Time spent with God always produces results. The evidence may not always be apparent in our physical features but it will be there in our inner being. Time spent with God is never wasted. So talk on.

In the above verses from Exodus, we learn something about God’s character – the important lesson for us – is that His character hasn’t changed. The God of the Old Testament is exactly the same God of the New Testament. When Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead He will have the same attitude to sin, as we see here in Exodus 34 – He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7).

I also liked the prayer for today, it’s really good: ‘O God, I would emerge from my prayer times, perhaps not with a shining face, but with a shining soul, more alive to You, and more alive to others. I would have more of You come in, so that more of You can be visible in me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.’

Any comments?


Exodus 33:1-23 (NIV): ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”

When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favour with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” ‘

Just a quick comment on an apparent contradiction in the above verses; verse 11, mentions that God ‘would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend‘. That is, God talked to Moses directly, not in a dream or type of vision – God talked plainly, as in talking to a friend. The verse does not say that Moses could see God’s ‘glorious’ face. Compare this to the last verse, where we hear God say – ‘my face must not be seen.’ Moses asked to see God – in His awesome majesty and glory. It’s a different context to the earlier verse.

Now, there are other instances in Scripture where it’s implied that people ‘see’ God – it’s my view, that they may have seen a representation of God, veiled in a way that covered His real nature, but they never saw His full glory.

Selwyn writes: ‘Moses asks to see God’s glory, but is allowed only a glimpse of God’s back, not His face!. This was the closest Moses got to the glory in his lifetime, but a thousand years or more later he stood on another mountain and talked with Jesus, seeing Him transfigured before his very eyes (Matthew 17:3). What a moment that must have been. However, it is nothing compared to the glory that one day be revealed to us all.’

We know that no one has seen the Father, because of Jesus’ words in John 6:45-47 (NIV): “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.”

Any comments?

Moses’ intercession

Exodus 32:7-14, 30-35 (NIV): ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

But Moses sought the favour of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. … ‘

‘The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.

And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.’

My initial comment is that God does not change His mind, I think He knows the future and He knew Moses would come to Him and plead on Israel’s behalf. However, I agree with Selwyn, I think it’s a good example of how God interacts with our prayers. In Matthew 6:7-8, we read: ‘And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Selwyn writes: ‘Despite Israel’s disloyalty, Moses decides to mediate between the people and their God. He pleads mitigation for the people in a moving and justly famous moment of intercession. … Moses reminds God of His promises made to the patriarchs which are always the reliable bottom-line guarantee of His commitment.

Prayer calls on God to be God, and as we pray we show our trust in His wonderful character. … Even more amazing, though is that this same God would one day be prepared to offer His own Son to make atonement for our sins.’

As, I said above – I don’t think we change the course of history though our prayers, God knows in advance, all our prayers, and His plan for the future takes into account (in His perfect way) our imperfect prayers. It’s His loving heart, which listens to our intercessions, praises and complaints in a caring and compassionate way.

I feel that, He looks at us while we pray as if we are the only person talking to Him at that moment; He is attentive, and will always respond to our prayers in a manner which helps our spiritual growth. (And, that may mean, He answers our prayers, in a very different way – to what we may want.)

Your view?

Israel’s fall from grace

Exodus 32:1-6, 15-29 (NIV): ‘When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. …

Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”

Moses replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.”

When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewellery, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.

Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”’

Selwyn writes: “Today’s reading comes as quite a shock after learning of Israel’s redemption and covenant with God. Suddenly an event occurs which threatens to unravel all God’s plans. It is tragic to see how quickly Israel turns away from God and falls from grace as she lapses into idolatry. …

In some parts of the contemporary Church it seems that the sound of boisterous songs is designed to help people feel good about themselves rather than provide a setting for the worship which God seeks – worship that is ‘in spirit and in truth’.”

As is often the case, the Israelites demonstrate in today’s reading that it’s easy to replace God with something, which is ‘fake’ yet visible and touchable, when we feel God is far from us. It’s basically a question of trust – God may appear far away but He is monitoring our every thought and action – and, when we become anxious He will always provide for us reassuring comfort.

The stronger our faith the more we will realise that Jesus is never far from us.

Do you agree with Selwyn’s position on spiritual songs?