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 favor 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.

Exodus 32:7-14

Lost! People feel lost with struggling health, unsatisfactory work, disharmony with family or lack of peace in society.  Being lost then turns into a steppingstone for fear.  So, when I researched the solution for lost/fearful people I found this: “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” ~ Buddha

If this is an answer lost people get for their fear, then it is no wonder they are lost in fear!  Like a lamb in Jesus’ parable unable to find its way home.  Like the valuable coin the woman would not let go.  Lost.  Like the Israelites praying to a gold calf asking it to intervene in their lives.  Lost.  But, you, dear Christians, have the answer for all who are lost, or even for those times in your life when you’re afraid because….

Hey, God’s Got A Better Idea!

For Them

You recall the account of Scripture that tells us Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments from the Lord.  Moses had been up there for 40 days and nights and the people became lost, afraid and restless as they talked Aaron into making a golden calf for themselves.  They even had the nerve to call their handmade “god” the “LORD!”  There is no surprise to hear God say 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.’”  Perhaps you’re not so amazed at these words because you can relate to the people.  After all, Moses was gone for so long and all they could see was the glory of the Lord on the mountain that looked like a consuming fire.  For all they knew Mosses was lost, or worse.  But, Moses wasn’t lost.  They were.   They had just left Egypt where the influence of their neighbors seemed to have rubbed off a bit.  The Egyptian calf-god called Apis, was shaped like a calf.  It’s hard to believe they gave the sacred cow the same honor they had offered the Lord: bowing down, sacrifices and the credit for rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. Lost!

Satan continues his attacks on God’s people today.  It may not be the idol of a calf to rescue us from stress, but it might be the idol of alcohol to rescue us from slavery to stress.  Or the time you lost patience with God and sacrificed your marriage or children to the god of career on the altar of advancement.  Or the time you lost sight of God’s goodness and actually gave credit to your ability to produce, invest, or spend your income as the reason life is so good.   Such unhealthy hearts and faith are lost. So, we repent of worshipping the idols, some of which we didn’t even recognize we had.

But some of here today can tell the stories of our Christian parents who realized this and reminded us, “Hey, God’s Got a Better Idea!”  And they took us as babies, lost without faith, to the waters of baptism where the Good Shepherd embraced us as his own, created faith in our hearts and heirs of eternal life in heaven.   Some of us here today were lost but had Christian Sunday School and Christian Day School teachers  who knew our lost our independence would lead us and said, ‘Hey, God’s Got a Better Idea!” and the herded us into the green pastures of God’s Word to nourish our souls by reading, learning, memorizing and practicing those Bible passages that today have become our favorites.   Some of us here today were lost but had Christian friends who watched us mess up our lives and say, “Hey, God’s Got a Better Idea!” and offered us the loving rod and staff of God’s Word to get us back on the path. 

This was the opportunity God placed before Moses.  Earlier Moses learned the hard way (killing an Egyptian and running away) that God’s Way was better.  And now Moses was given this great opportunity to say, “Hey, God’s Got a Better Idea!” God said, Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. …“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.  This was a sharp reminder of God’s divine call to Moses to go to Egypt and free the Children of Israel.  Moses had lived through the plagues, extended his arms over the Red Sea and led them to this point at the foot of the mountain.  Moses knew his responsibility.  However, the Lord’s words were very pointed!  Your people!”  And if Moses was having difficulty embracing the Lord’s test, God added these testing words, Then I will make you into a great nation.”  It was the test for Moses to look deep into his heart and say, “Hey, God’s Got a Better idea for them.”  Moses passes this test to discover God’s promise.  He continued to act as the mediator for those who were lost!   Yes, God does have a better idea for them and

For you!

Moses was tested by God to recall God’s promise to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It was the place where Moses could go with absolute assurance that he had the answer for those who were lost. But Moses sought the favor 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.’  Moses relied on God’s promises of grace that he will never break.  It was the perfect answer as he acted as the mediator for God’s people.  In seeking the Lord’s favor Moses referred to the lost and fearful as Your people, whom you brought out of Egypt!  Moses relied on God’s goodness, his grace and his mercy.  The Savior God was the answer.  The Savior God has the best idea!  This idea is to send Jesus to be the Savior for all sin!  Jesus came always remembering this Father’s promises, living the perfect life to gain payment for our lives.  Then as our Substitute, he offered his life to wash away all our sins.

In our second lesson today, St Paul reaffirms this strategy when speaking about his position as a mediator.  Paul said Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”  Paul was a living example of “God’s better idea!”  Paul learned that the Lord alone saves sinners. 

This is really the story within the story.  Yes, God wants us to respond to this Bible account by becoming more eager and willing to seek and save the lost.  But, there’s more.  Beneath this obvious message lies a powerful motivator for us: the Lord is the only Savior for you!  The Lord God is not just one of many spiritual truths.  The Lord is not some impersonal force like gravity encompassing the universe with a vague spirituality we can tune in and out.   The Lord God is not some golden image that has eyes but cannot see and ears but cannot hear.   The Lord God has a better idea!  Lean on Jesus and his eternal promises!

Yes, Moses learned that the responsibility for saving people really rested on God’s mercy and saving activity.  Moses was given the opportunity to seek God’s favor not because Moses was so good, but because the Lord is so good.  The same God who graciously delivered his people in the past is called upon again to graciously deliver his people again in the future.  And that he did.  Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”  Yes, the Lord, from our perspective, changed his course of action to save sinners.  Just like Jonah went to Nineveh to proclaim, Repent, for the kingdom of God is near,” so Moses went to the Children of Israel and proclaimed the same.  They were God’s mediators to the lost.  All it takes is one person acting as the mediator of God to bring God’s law and gospel to people to escape the chains of being lost. 

Dear Christian friends, to whom will you be that person today?  Like Moses let our hearts be filled with compassion for people who feel lost when health, work and family fail them and fill their lost hearts with fear.  Let us be the ones to bring the good news of Jesus, who still intercedes in heaven today.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5).  After observation and analysis, don’t point them to the empty deliverance of the gods of this world, but tell them, “Hey, God has a better idea for you!”  It is Jesus.  Amen!