They forgot the God that saved them

The Importance of Remembering

We are no different than the Jews we meet in the Old Testament reading today. God’s people have grown impatient waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain. They abandon the one true God and quickly turn to false gods. American culture is full of false gods (youth health, sports, sex (or any kind of pleasure), money, power, self/individualism, education, skills, productivity, and convenience to name a few). Lent is a time to recognize and root out the sin that has infested our lives and to return to the one true living God.

Reading scripture helps us remember who God is and all he has done. Psalm 106 invites us to praise God and speaks of God’s mercy. Verse 6 explicitly states that we are sinners, too, just like the Jews who worshiped the golden calf: “we have sinned like our ancestors; we have done wrong and are guilty.”

Our sin and guilt are not the end of the story. We must also remember that through Moses’ intercessory prayer, God abandons his plans, in his Justice, to punish the evil the people have done. The Old Testament, however, is only part of the story.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus reveals who he is: God’s only begotten Son, sent into the world to do the work of God (which is the work of saving us). The Old Testament scriptures speak of Him, yet the Jews do not believe. It is important to remember who God is and all he has done—for all of humanity, and also specifically in our own lives.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Exodus 32:7–14

The LORD said to Moses,
“Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'”
The LORD said to Moses,
“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.'”
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Psalm: 106:19–20, 21–22, 23

Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.

They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.

Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.

Gospel: John 5:31–47

Jesus said to the Jews:
“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”

Questions of the Day

  • God’s people adored a molten calf. What do you adore?
  • Have you forgotten all that God has done for you?
  • How do you do remember God? Do you have set times of prayer each day when you speak to God and listen to his voice?
  • Do you consistently seek God by reading scripture?
  • Do you intercede and plead for God’s mercy on our sinful culture?
  • Do you rejoice in the light of the world?
  • Does God’s word remain in you, or have your false gods blotted it out?
  • Do you seek praise from people or from God?
  • Do you believe Jesus’ words? Will you go to him to have life?

 

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