Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 8 February 20:
Exodus 32:25 – “Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies) ….”
The first thing that jumps out at you in Exodus 32 is how “quickly” and drastically the Israelites turned from God during Moses’ absence. But another key take-away is Aaron’s utter failure as a leader.
Remember, in Exodus 17, the Israelites were on the verge of stoning Moses, and Moses challenged them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” Moses went to the Lord in prayer, and God brought the people water miraculously.
In today’s readings, the Israelites grumble to Aaron, and he immediately surrenders to the rebellious will of the people and even leads them in their abomination, proclaiming, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord,” a shocking blasphemy.
In contrast to Aaron’s self-centered, spineless leadership (inspired by self-preservation), Moses intercedes to the Lord for the undeserving, sinful Israelites, even to the point of saying, “If you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” As a true leader, Moses took responsibility for the sins of the people and sought to reconcile them with the Lord. In contrast, when Moses rebukes Aaron for his complete leadership failure, Aaron responds, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil.” Rather than taking responsibility as the leader and seeking reconciliation, Aaron simply deflects responsibility, blaming the people. However, God’s word specifically makes the point – “The people had broken loose for Aaron had let them break loose….”
God calls His people to be leaders, leaders in family, community, church, government, and society. Leadership comes with great responsibility, and leaders are held accountable by God. The foundation of leadership is followership, faithfulness in following God. Someone once said, “Leaders know the way and show the way.” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The key to real leadership is knowing Christ, following Christ, revealing Christ to others, and empowering others to follow Christ.
And the way of Christ-like leadership is the cross, selfless sacrifice for others for the purpose of their reconciliation with God. Leaders, with a genuine heart for both God and others, seek to protect others from their own sinfulness, while seeking to draw them closer to Christ that they would no longer desire to sin. Moses, unlike Aaron, established and enforced rules as an external control for people who lacked internal control (self-control), not for his own personal power but rather to protect them from sin. When they broke the rules and sinned, Moses didn’t despise them, he prayed for them earnestly, served as an instrument of God’s discipline as God directed, and then moved forward, never giving up on those God had given him to lead. The question for us today is, do we lead more like Moses or Aaron? Do we truly know the Way and show the Way, Jesus? How are we protecting others from sin, while promoting their reconciliation (unity) with God?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 8 Feb 20: Lead someone to Christ today?