Tests. Most people hear that word and they cringe. Pop quizzes, multiple choice, essay form. If anyone is reading this and getting excited right now, you’re a nerd. For the rest of us, tests get our heart racing for another reason: no matter how competent we feel measured by our own subjective standards, testing always brings with it the imminent possibility of failure.
Go back and read Exodus 24:15-18. Chapters 25-31 are spoken to Moses during these forty days and we join the story back at the Israelite camp at the end of those forty days. Chapter 24 tells us that “the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain”, yet after forty days they are making and worshiping idols—and breaking commandments 1 and 2—right at the foot of the mountain. I believe that’s what some people call “gutsy”. Others might call it a “death wish”.
But really, how bad of test-takers can you be? God was pretty straight forward with the Ten Commandments. And a mountain top that looks like it’s being nuked for forty straight days isn’t exactly God being subtle about his presence. One might say they were “without excuse”.
Funny, cause Paul says the same thing about all of us (Romans 1:20, 2:1). All of us are without excuse in regards to the moral law that we have broken and the plain truth of God we have rejected. So if you’ve ever thought the Israelites were a bunch of idiots, well here’s your mirror.
Fortunately for us all, the Israelites weren’t the only ones tested for forty days in the desert. Another came who passed that test and every other one that the Israelites—and all the rest of us—have failed. Jesus passed that test on our behalf, all we have to do is accept his passing grade rather than our failing one.
Do you still live your life like you’re trying to pass that test? Relax. The grace of God is on your side, now you can live out of joyful forgiveness rather than fearful scrutiny. Do you still hold others to the same standard that you failed? Remember the mercy and grace that has been shown you. Do you still turn to your personal idols from your old life in the face of the One who died for you? Beware being so short sighted.
1. Do you think God’s response to the rebellion of the Israelites was an overreaction? Why or why not? Do you think God’s response to our rebellion is an overreaction? Why or why not?
2. Do you think God has made himself as plain to you (and everyone else) as “a consuming fire on top of the mountain” for the Israelites? Why or why not?
3. Do you ever feel like life is one big test? What do you do when you feel like that? How do you act and respond to situations? How would you behave and think differently if you believed that Jesus had already passed the most important test on your behalf?