“When Moses came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded [by God], the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was shining brightly. So Moses would put the veil on his face again until the next time he went in to speak with the Lord.” Exodus 34:34b-35 (CEB)
Do you ever crave the divine presence? The Hebrews who followed Moses out of Egypt craved it over and over again. Whenever fear set in, anger followed and Moses took the brunt of it. And each time, Moses went to God and he wrestled. Just like Jacob wrestled with God during that dark night of his soul.
The Golden Calf was almost their undoing. Moses took too long on that mountaintop. Surely he was dead. And Aaron, inexperienced in leadership and the ways of God, gave them what they asked for. They loved that symbol of gods. It was something they could see and touch. They danced and celebrated god’s presence.
You have to be careful of idols. They’re oh so comforting. They offer such peace. And after awhile, you don’t need God. All you need is your lovely golden idol and you can do all things. Or so you think.
Eventually, idols lose their magnificence. Their shine diminishes; their luster dulls. And we’re stuck at the base of the mountain wishing God would show up.
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. It’s the day after Fat Tuesday, a celebration that probably makes the Golden Calf party look like a funeral. On Ash Wednesday we put ashes on our foreheads and we remember that we are dust and to dust we’ll return. We’re nothing apart from God.
Ash Wednesday ushers us into God’s presence and yet another opportunity to prepare ourselves for the greatest event known to humanity: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When we hear that Christ conquers death, will it mean anything to us if we don’t enter into a form of our own death during Lent?
It’s hard work. It requires discipline.
Yet, there God stands, issuing the invitation.
How will you respond?
All glory and honor be to God.