Impatience and Punishment

This morning, I attended a community meeting on human trafficking. It was hosted by our State legislators in Fort Collins and featured the key individuals involved in the UCount Campaign of Timberline Church. There were at least 100 people present in a crowded community room at a local library. This event during “Human Trafficking Month” was a result of some meetings I helped arrange during last years “Anti Human Trafficking Day” at the Capitol. Congratulations to Beth Bruno and her team for the follow up to make this event a success.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!” Exodus 32:1 HCSB

They didn’t have watches and they didn’t have calendars. They had no appointments, they had no plans. Yet while Moses was on the mountain for 40 days receiving instructions from the Lord, the people grew impatient. Their impatience lead to a faulty memory and rash decisions.

I almost chuckle when I read, “this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt.” It makes them sound like Moses instead of being “one of them” was some stranger. Also, it makes it sound like their deliverance from Egypt was a forced act and not their salvation and deliverance from slavery.

Even though the presence of the Lord was over the mountain in a cloud and fire, they turned to Aaron and requested that he make them “a god who will go before us.” What did they think they had? In a time of weakness, or willingness to comply with the people, Aaron makes a golden calf. The people respond by having basically having a drunken, orgy. They revert to the pagan practices of the Egyptians and worship the calf, acting in a way to get the favor of the god they had made. When you make your own god, you can make your own rules.

While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the people were in the camp, breaking the Ten Commandments. When Moses comes down from the mountain, Aaron in classic fashion, blames the people and the fire and tries of avoid responsibility. Control over crowd was only gained when the Levites standing true to the Lord strapped on swords and began killing their fellow Hebrews.

As we look at this account we realize why patience is viewed as a virtue. There is something in us, that doesn’t like to feel out of control, inconvenienced or not having all of our questions answered. Consider the following:

“Whoever is patient has great understanding…” (Prov. 14:29 NIV) “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12 NIV) “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Psa. 37:7 NIV) “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2 NIV) “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4 KJV)

When we become impatient we lose our perspective.  The Children of Israel, treated with contempt all the Lord had done, including the miracles of provision in the early weeks of the journey. They lost sight of the Lord’s instructions and failed to keep in mind the journey they were on.

When we become impatient we make poor decisions. You can count on it, “rash” decisions are made out of frustration and impatience. We can observe that in our own lives in many ways and in the lives of others. We don’t want to wait or be disciplined or thoughtful. We want what we want, but in the end we find ourselves sorry.

Our lack of patience has consequences. In this situation is was an entire congregation of people. Perhaps they were influenced by the “rabble” among them. This was a group of people who were not Hebrews who joined them when they left Egypt. What we see is lives were lost and in turn Moses had to go back to the mountain to get another set of stone tablets. Their lack of patience created more waiting and a needless loss of life. Fortunately, most of our impatience doesn’t have those kind of consequences. (However, in our day the number of traffic accidents and injuries and deaths and lost time and money that can result, can be tied to impatience.)

I believe we see being impatient in life and with God is not a modern day problem. We see it reflected throughout the Bible. Learning to be patient and keeping our perspective and focus on the Lord is an important aspect in our life. It also prepares us for heaven, where, “time will be no more.”