In this message we learn Moses is a great example of faithfulness and doing what’s right in the midst of a crisis. He shows integrity, conviction, follows God and does what’s right, which is what we desperately need in our day.Read More
Full Sermon Script
Welcome, I’m Matt VanCleave, one of the Teaching Pastors at Blue Oaks.
If this is your first time at Blue Oaks, I want to say a special welcome to you. I’m glad you decided to join us. 
We’ll be in Exodus 32 today where we’ll see that Moses is a great example of faithfulness and doing the right thing in the midst of a crisis, something we desperately need in our day.
There’s a shortage of good, strong, faith-filled people in our world today.
There are a lot of self-centered people – a lot of selfish people. 
We have many areas in our society today where there’s a lack of unselfish faith-filled people.
*We need people in the media who are willing to take responsibility and do what’s right.
*We need these people in entertainment.
*We need them in government.
*We need them in education.
*In our communities.
*In our churches.
*In every area of society we need more people who will say, “I will be faithful to God and do what’s right no matter what the cost.”
I believe this is what God is calling us to, no matter who we are, where we work or what kind of influence He has given us. 
Alright, I’m going to read Exodus 32:1-10 to start: >>>>>
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, O 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.
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, O 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.”
> I’m stopping there, but the text goes on to talk about how Moses intercedes with God and then goes down and confronts the people, and there’s an actual battle before the people turn back to God. 
Now, I want to look at several differences between the response of Moses and the response of Aaron, and we’ll learn some lessons from the two of them. 
The first difference I’d like to point out is this:
Faithful people embrace responsibility.
Moses embraces responsibility. Aaron shuns responsibility. 
Look back at the beginning of the text. >>>>>
They gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.”
> Now, this is a defining moment for the people of Israel.
The question is, will Aaron take responsibility? Will he say to the people, “This isn’t right, we can’t do this kind of a thing”?
And of course, he doesn’t. He doesn’t assume the burden of confronting and challenging them. He follows the path of least resistance. He says. “OK, whatever you want,” and it leads to terrible disaster. 
In this defining moment, Aaron abdicates responsibility. 
Contrast that with the response of Moses. >>>>>
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.
> Notice what God says about the people of Israel. Whose people does he call them? “Because YOUR people…” Because the people have decided they don’t want to be God’s people. They don’t want to be the Lord’s people.
So God says to Moses, “Look what YOUR people have done.”
If I were Moses, I think I would have said something like, “They’re not my people. This wasn’t my idea, remember. I was perfectly happy in the desert tending sheep.”
But Moses doesn’t say that. Instead, Moses agrees to accept responsibility for these people. He pleads to God for his people. >>>>>
But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O 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.”
> Moses accepts the burden of the people of Israel and he pleads to God for them.
Then he goes down the mountain, and he does battle with his own people.
He puts his own life on the line and he eventually leads his people out of idolatry and back to God.
Moses does all of this even though he was not responsible for what happened. It wasn’t his fault, but he does it. He takes on responsibility. 
Where we really start to see the contrast between the faithfulness of Moses and the selfishness of Aaron is verse 21.
Moses has come down the mountain now. He has confronted the people very strongly. He shattered the tablets with the commandments on them. He has destroyed the golden calf.
Now he’s going to have a little chat with his brother Aaron. Look what he says to Aaron: >>>>>
“What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
> Now, the question is, will Aaron take his share of the responsibility? Is he going to assume, at least appropriately, his level of responsibility. 
This is what he said to Moses — “Do not be angry, my lord.” 
Now, if you had a brother growing up, I imagine you know what it’s like to fight with your brother; but I bet you have never called your brother “my lord” to cool him off.
Kathy and I get into conflicts sometimes. She has never called me “my lord” to calm me down. 
Aaron’s just back-pedaling as fast as he can.
This is just classic. >>>>>
“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.’
> And then verse 24 is one of the classic statements in all of Scripture. >>>>>
So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
> “I was just putting gold in the furnace so the people wouldn’t be so materialistic, and then this darn calf thing came jumping out. It’s not my fault.” 
The question I want you to consider here is: Do you avoid or embrace responsibility? 
Or another question to consider is: Where do you need to take appropriate responsibility?
What’s an area in your life where you need to take appropriate responsibility, where you may be abdicating responsibility? 
If you have a child that expresses anger inappropriately, don’t say to your spouse, “Well, I guess she gets that from your side of the family.”
Say, “As a parent, I will work, and read, and pray, and seek wise counsel until I find a way, with God’s help, to teach my child the right way to manage anger.”
It’s amazing how often parents just abdicate – “Well, I guess he just has a problem with that.” Kind of like Aaron said, “I can’t do anything with them.” 
If there are tasks that needs to get done at work, don’t say, “It’s not my problem. It’s someone else’s responsibility.”
Say, “I will take responsibility and serve. I’ll do what’s best for the organization regardless of whether or not it’s in my job description.” 
What a difference it makes when someone says, “I will take responsibility to do what needs to be done.” 
Families and work places and churches are desperately crying out for people who will appropriately embrace responsibility, and say, “I will do what it takes.” 
You see, Moses accepts responsibility for the problems of others, problems he didn’t even cause.
And we desperately need people in our world who will stop making excuses.
When you see a problem, do something about it.
And if you’re saying, “I’d like to do something about this problem that I see in the world but I don’t have the talent, or I don’t have the time, or I don’t have the opportunity, or I don’t have the money.”
I don’t know how else to say it any nicer, “Stop making excuses and do the best you can with what you have.”
The writer of Proverbs says, “The lazy person is full of excuses.”
Some of us are just lazy and full of excuses.
I think it was Ben Franklin who once said, “I’ve discovered that people who are good at making excuses are rarely good at anything else!”
Don’t make excuses. Take other people’s problems and make them your problem. When you see problems in the world, do something about them. 
Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s palace, the ultimate lap of luxury. Out of his window were one million crying, dying slaves. He could have easily turned a deaf ear to one million dying slaves and said, “I’m sorry but I don’t have time to get involved in that. It’s none of my business. It’s not my responsibility… would someone please feed me another grape?”
He didn’t do that because he was called by God and he accepted the problems of other people and made them his responsibility.
He said, “I’m going to do something. I’m going to accept responsibility for a problem that I see in this world and I’m going to do something about it.” That’s what faithful people do. They make choices. And they accept responsibility. 
That’s the first point. 
Alright, the second contrast is this:
Faithful people constantly champion core values. 
Moses constantly championed the most important values. Aaron just let them slide. 
Look what leads to this situation.
By the way, the reason Israel asked for freedom in the first place was so they could worship God.
But then notice how they respond: >>>>>
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.”
> The people see that Moses is delayed, and their commitment just fades away.
Maybe they get bored. Maybe they’re afraid.
But here’s the key point: We’re prone to slip from core values over time. It’s true for every society, every organization, and every family. 
So our values have to always be reviewed and renewed. 
*Because we don’t have time to do everything.
*We have to settle the question “What matters most?”
*We have to clarify what matters and what doesn’t matter. What’s worth living for and what isn’t worth living for? 
If I asked you right now to name the five values that you’re building your life on, could you list them? 
If you can’t identify them, there’s no way you can build your life on them.
And if you don’t figure out what’s important in your life – what’s valuable to you, what your priorities are – other people will be happy to determine them for you. They’ll be glad to fill up your life and schedule with their values and their priorities and their issues. So you have to decide.
Moses had to do this. He had to set priorities.
The writer of Hebrews said: >>>>>
Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value [there’s the value statement] than the treasures of Egypt, [In other words he said, I decided to go live with a bunch of slaves rather than be royalty in the Pharaoh’s palace. Why?] because he was looking ahead to his reward.
> The writer says, “Moses regarded.”
That means he made a value judgment. He evaluated his life. He considered it. He weighed it in the balance and he said, “This is worth living for and this is not.” 
How did he decide to go with what he did? “Because he was looking ahead to his reward,” the writer says.
He was not a short-term thinker. He was saying, “Should I invest my life in the here and now when I only get sixty, eighty, a hundred years here on earth. Or should I invest my life in things that are going to last for eternity.”
That’s a question a lot of us need to wrestle with. Should I invest in the here and now, or should I invest in the things that are going to outlast my life? Think about that and we’ll look at what our culture values next.
Now, in order to determine what our values are, let’s first look at what people in our culture value.
Our culture has three main values. And they’ve been around since the beginning of creation. Our culture’s values (or priorities) are:
In other words I want people to look up to me. I want to have status. I want to be envied. I want to be popular.
I want to feel good. I want to have fun. And the more fun and pleasure I can get the better.
I want to be wealthy. I want to be rich. I want to get all I can.
That’s our culture’s value system. The writers of Scripture call it the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It’s as old as creation.
It’s the three temptations Satan gave Adam in the Garden of Eden and the same three temptations he gave Jesus in the wilderness. 
It’s interesting that by the world’s standards Moses had it made. If he had just kept quiet and stayed in Pharaoh’s court, he would have had power, he would have had pleasure, and he would have had possessions. 
But he walked away from it all. Why?
Because he knew none of it lasted. 
Here’s the deal: To say yes to God means to say no to a lot of other things. Because faithfulness to God is not something you tack on to a self-centered life.
You have to learn to say no. You have to refuse to be sucked into our culture. 
Look at Moses’ priorities. This is a great passage — Hebrews 11, verses 24, 25, and 26. Three verses, three decisions. >>>>>
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
> First he decided that fulfilling God’s purpose is more important than power.
That was his first value. Fulfilling God’s purpose is more important than power or popularity.
Verse 25: >>>>>
He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
> Second, he decided that loving God’s people is more important than pleasure.
Moses traded a royal lifestyle in order to go help a bunch of slaves. He didn’t do it just when it was convenient – just when it fit his schedule. He just did it. Because loving God’s people is more important than pleasure.
Verse 26: >>>>>
He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt.
> So the third thing Moses decided was that having God’s peace is more important than possessions.
Moses had it all – the wealth of Egypt. But Moses understood that peace comes from doing God’s will. 
Here’s the amazing thing. Moses gave up what most of us spend our entire lives trying to get – power, pleasure, and possessions. That’s what most people build their lives on.
Moses rejected the things that we live our life trying to get. Why?
“He was looking ahead to his reward,” the writer says.
He was not a short-term thinker. He was looking ahead. What motivated him was perspective. 
There’s always the possibility of slipping from our values over time, and those people who have integrity and are responsible and faithful to God always look for signs of this slippage, and they seek to renew and lift up core values.
Max Dupree calls this the “interception of entropy.” 
Entropy can happen in families. A kind of entropy can set into your family or into your marriage.
You’re not spending time together like you used to or there’s an increase in the general level of friction and unresolved conflict, and no one’s talking about it. Or the conversation has become superficial.
For some of you, this is going on and God is calling you today to have a conversation, maybe with your spouse, or pull together a little meeting with your family and say, “Here are our values.” And you list them. “We’re going to recommit to them. We’re going to declare one night a week a family night and we’re going to commit to develop a new tradition around our core values as a family.” 
Entropy can also happen in the workplace.
Maybe you work at a place where instead of building each other up, the people that you work with have just been tearing each other down and no one’s doing anything. People are just in passive mode.
Maybe God is calling you – whatever your position or title, it may be high, it may be low – maybe God is calling you to say by word or by example, “This is a core value and it’s got to be prized and honored, and I’m going to live by it and I’m going to challenge you to do the same.” 
So I’m asking you today to just reflect on the family, the people that you live with, your relational network, the place that you work, and just assess, has there been some slipping of core values that you know God is calling you to?
Will you say, “I’ll step forward. I’ll have a conversation”? 
Alright, so the first difference between Moses and Aaron is – Moses embraced responsibility. Aaron shunned responsibility.
The second difference is – Moses championed core values, and he called people to live by those values. Aaron just let them slip.
The third difference it this:
Faithful people have a high level of commitment to people, but a low need for approval.
They don’t live their lives to get approval from people. 
For selfish people, it’s the other way around. They have a low level of commitment to the people they’re involved with, but a high need for their approval.
Look at Aaron. He’s willing to go along with whatever they want him to do. They say, “Make us a calf,” he makes them a calf.
In fact, he builds an altar and he says, “Tomorrow we’ll have a festival to the Lord,” as if you could combine idolatry, the worship of a golden calf, with the worship of God.
He knows that he shouldn’t make the calf. He does it because he’s not willing to incur the wrath of people. 
Then contrast that with Moses. He breaks the tablets. He grinds up the calf into powder, pours it over water and makes them drink it.
He’ll do battle with them if he has to. If it needs to be, it will be the whole country against Moses. 
There’s no question where he stands, because he stands where God calls him to stand. 
And here’s a truth about faithful people – If you want to be faithful to God you will disappoint some people. 
Now, because Aaron is so sensitive to what people want and Moses is not, you might think Aaron’s the one that’s really committed to people. He hates to disappoint them, and they probably think he’s committed to them.
When Aaron says, “Yeah, let’s make the golden calf,” and when Moses picks up a sword and says, “No, we’re not going to do it,” and grinds it down… which one do you think would be more popular with the people?
Aaron, right? But Aaron is not really committed to the people. He really isn’t. He says, “You know how prone these people are to evil.”
> He’s willing to scapegoat the people if it will get him off the hook. He’s not really giving himself to the people at all. 
Now contrast that with Moses.
Moses, who is perfectly willing to be condemned by all the people if that’s what it’s going to take to do the will of God. He’s willing to stand up to the whole nation, but I want you to see his love for them. 
This is unbelievable. Moses now has been down with the people, he has confronted them about their sin, he has stood up to the whole nation, he has done battle – it has been a life-or-death thing. People have lost their lives over this. Moses has called people to decide who are they going to follow. Are they going to go God’s way, or are they going to defy him?
Exodus 32:30 says:
The next day [After this very difficult, painful confrontation] Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. [He’s just dead honest with them] 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 [now think about this phrase for a minute.] —but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
Moses is saying, “God, if you won’t forgive these people of their sin, blot out my name.”
He’s willing to go all the way to the end of the line for these obstinate, stiff-necked, whiny, complaining people. 
Now let me ask you a question. Do you have any whiny, obstinate, complaining people in your life?
How far are you willing to go? What are you willing to do? 
God has put you in little spheres of influence – the people that you live with, people that you work with, people that you serve with. Think right now about the people in your life.
Are you free from the need for approval so that you can just speak the truth to them and love them?
How committed are you to their well-being? 
If you think of Aaron at one end of the continuum where he’s ready to trash them – “You know how prone these people are to evil.” If he’s one side of the continuum, and then you think about Moses, who says, “O God, forgive this people. If you’re going to abandon them, just erase my name too.”
If those are the two anchors on the continuum, where do you stand?
And do the people in your little world know what your commitment is to them?  
The last thing I want you to think about is this – what if Aaron had decided to be faithful to God instead of people-please? Think about what a difference it would have made.
He just gave in, followed the path of least resistance, built the golden calf, had the people worship it. It set in motion a whole pattern of unfaithfulness. 
These are the people that had come through the Red Sea, they were delivered from Egypt, they received the Ten Commandments.
Now a whole pattern of unfaithfulness has been set and many died and a whole generation never entered the Promised Land.
You have to ask the question, how would their story have been different if Aaron would have said, “God help me, God give me strength, I’m going to take responsibility; you shall not do this thing, not while I’m here; I will not be a part of it”?
It could have changed the whole course, the fate of a whole generation. What if Aaron would have been faithful to God? 
Then the other question, what if Moses had not been faithful?
What if Moses would have said, “I’ll just let it slide; people want to do it, just let them do it”?
There would have been no journey to the Promised Land. It would have changed the whole course of human history. 
As you think about whether or not you’ll take the responsibility that God gives to you with the people in your sphere of influence; as you think about whether or not you’re going to lift up values; and as you think about whether or not you’re going to be committed to people… understand the huge difference that it makes.
The impact on the lives of your friends, the people you work with, the lives of the people that you serve, your family, your children… the impact will never, ever, ever be the same. 
We are so likely to underestimate the influence we’ll have one way or another on the lives of those around us, so don’t shrink back. When those defining moments come, don’t shrink back.
Let’s follow the example of Moses. 
Alright, let’s pray as and then Michaela will lead us in a closing song.