2 girl friends February 13 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Exodus 33:18–36:7

A Restored Relationship

Our last Bible study was about restoring broken trust. What joy there is in a restored relationship! If there have been efforts to bring two parties together, and the breach is healed, the one who interceded rejoices and is brought into a closer relationship with the one who was gracious to forgive. The ones who are forgiven also rejoice. Now what they have done is no longer held against them. They have a renewed relationship and joy in the presence of the one who forgives them. Because of this, they are most willing to please. This is what happens in today’s Bible study from Exodus.

Israel had grievously betrayed the LORD, engaging in idolatry and immorality. Moses, their leader, interceded for the Israelites before him. After a time of anger, judgment, and even unwillingness to go with, or even associate with the Israelites, the LORD relents. He yields because it is in his nature to be a forgiving God.

Moses rejoices in the LORD ’s forgiveness and asks to see his glory; as a close friend of God, he wants to see and understand more of him. God’s glory is normally veiled; to see his face would kill a man. The LORD does not refuse Moses’ request, however, but tells him that he will pass before him. He will then take away his hand so Moses can see his back side while the glorious name of the LORD is proclaimed. Moses is drawn into a more intimate relationship with God as the LORD partially reveals himself to him.

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5-8, NIV)

Those who say the God of the Old Testament is primarily a God of wrath should read these verses and realize that he is first compassionate, gracious and slow to anger. The God of the Old Testament is not different than Jesus of the New Testament. Jesus is of the same nature as his heavenly father (John 1:14; Hebrews 1:3).

How is intimacy with the LORD attained? Of course we know that physical intimacy in a marriage is the discreet disclosure of both body and soul to and for each other. In a similar manner, spiritual intimacy with God is attained by unclothing our pride and other sins, revealing the nakedness of our heart, repenting, and drawing near to him in full submission. The Scriptures say in the book of James,

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7-10, NIV)

The Israelites do this and are forgiven. Do any of us still need to humble ourselves and repent before God? He can give us forgiveness, peace and joy (more...). We can experience spiritual intimacy with him.

When Moses comes back down the mountain, his face is radiant because he has been in the presence of God. The people see it and are afraid; so when Moses is with them he veils his face, but when he is in the LORD's presence, he removes the veil. He wants nothing between him and his beloved creator—he is God’s friend. What about us? Are we going into his presence with a veil or not?

How do we maintain a relationship after we have been restored? First, we have to plan ahead and put up safeguards. God tells Moses that he is making or renewing a covenant with the Israelites, and he will go before them into battle against many nations. However, they are not to make a treaty with them or worship their gods. Instead, they are to completely destroy all foreign gods when they occupy the land of Canaan. Who do we make alliances with—those who love God or those who are evil? Who are good friends of ours?

Second, we should do things to remember and maintain our relationship. For the Israelites, they maintained their relationship with the LORD by following his Law and celebrating their feasts. Today, believers in Christ maintain their relationship with God by regularly reading and obeying his Word (the Bible), fellowshipping with other believers, and observing Communion.

Third, our relationship can be maintained by giving God the first of everything. A married woman might well remember how her fiancée always put her ahead of everyone else, trying to please her. We must do the same with God, giving the best of ourselves and our substance to him.

Fourth, a relationship with God can be maintained by joyfully serving with him, doing his will from the heart. The Israelites are given instructions on what they are to gather together for the construction of the tabernacle (a portable worship center). They joyfully scurry back to their tents to gather the materials. In fact, they give so much that the general contractors and artisans have to withhold any more offerings. A restored relationship brings us much joy and generosity!

Lessons to Live By

  • The LORD is a forgiving God and longs to have a personal relationship with us.
  • Spiritual intimacy with God is attained by unclothing our pride and other sins, revealing the nakedness of our heart, repenting, and drawing near to God in full submission and trust. (more...)
  • How do we maintain a relationship with God after we have been restored?
    • Plan ahead and put up safeguards.
    • Do things to remember and maintain your relationship with him.
    • Give God the first of everything.
    • Worship the LORD and joyfully serve him, doing his will from the heart.

Focus Verse

James 4:8a (NIV) “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

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A Look Ahead: Now that the materials and the laborers have been gathered, it is time to get to work. The Israelites need to follow the blueprint and Get It Right (following the design). Since it is Valentine's day tomorrow, at the end of the lesson are some principles for building relationships (doing it right).

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