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Service Archives > 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly > How Can I Relate to God?

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How Can I Relate to God?
Exodus 32-34
Skip Heitzig

Exodus 32 (NKJV™)
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."
2 And Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me."
3 "So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.
4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"
5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD."
6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
7 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.
8 "They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'"
9 And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!
10 "Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation."
11 Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: "LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
12 "Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.
13 "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"
14 So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
15 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written.
16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets.
17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, "There is a noise of war in the camp."
18 But he said: "It is not the noise of the shout of victory, Nor the noise of the cry of defeat, But the sound of singing I hear."
19 So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses' anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.
20 Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.
21 And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?"
22 So Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil.
23 "For they said to me, 'Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'
24 "And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.' So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out."
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies),
26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, "Whoever is on the LORD'S side--come to me." And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.
27 And he said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.'"
28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.
29 Then Moses said, "Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother."
30 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin."
31 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold!
32 "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin--but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."
33 And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.
34 "Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin."
35 So the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.
Exodus 33 (NKJV™)
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your descendants I will give it.'
2 "And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.
3 "Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people."
4 And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.
5 For the LORD had said to Moses, "Say to the children of Israel, 'You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.'"
6 So the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Horeb.
7 Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.
8 So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle.
9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.
10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door.
11 So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.
12 Then Moses said to the LORD, "See, You say to me, 'Bring up this people.' But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.'
13 "Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people."
14 And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
15 Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.
16 "For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth."
17 So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name."
18 And he said, "Please, show me Your glory."
19 Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
20 But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live."
21 And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.
22 "So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.
23 "Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."
Exodus 34 (NKJV™)
1 And the LORD said to Moses, "Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.
2 "So be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me there on the top of the mountain.
3 "And no man shall come up with you, and let no man be seen throughout all the mountain; let neither flocks nor herds feed before that mountain."
4 So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.
5 Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
7 "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.
9 Then he said, "If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance."
10 And He said: "Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
11 "Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.
12 "Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.
13 "But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images
14 '(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),
15 "lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice,
16 "and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.
17 "You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.
18 "The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.
19 "All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep.
20 "But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.
21 "Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.
22 "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year's end.
23 "Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel.
24 "For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.
25 "You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.
26 "The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."
27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.
30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them.
32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.
33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face.
34 But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded.
35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.

Over 175 million people in the United States need some sort of vision correction. From glasses to contacts and corneal reshaping to corrective surgery, there's no question that seeing clearly improves people's quality of life. But what about our spiritual vision? With so many religious, philosophical, and ideological lenses to look through, how do we find the right lens? In this series, Skip Heitzig brings the core doctrines of Christian faith into clear focus. These are the truths that define who God is, who we are, and the choices that every person has to make.

Outline

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  1. Rebellion (Exodus 32:1, 25)

  2. Repentance (Exodus 32:31-32; 33:4-6)

  3. Request (Exodus 33:13-18)

  4. Revelation (Exodus 34:5-7)

  5. Response (Exodus 34:8)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: June 28, 2020
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "How Can I Relate to God?"
Text: Exodus 32-34

Path

The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, Christians will be humbled and lifted at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe.
  1. Rebellion (Exodus 32:1, 25)
  2. Repentance (Exodus 32:31-32; 33:4-6)
  3. Request (Exodus 33:13-18)
  4. Revelation (Exodus 34:5-7)
  5. Response (Exodus 34:8)
Points

Rebellion (Exodus 32:1, 25)
  • Exodus 32-34 is the only passage where God describes Himself. In Exodus, we also discover the problem: How can humans relate to a transcendent, invisible God?
  • Any relationship with God will be unique because God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere).
  • To understand the relationship that humans have with God, we must understand a basic truth: people rebelled against God, in the beginning (see Genesis 3) and in Moses' day (see Exodus 32), by committing idolatry.No image can fully represent Him. God is unlimited; an image is limited (see Isaiah 40:18).It's an attempt to make God in our own image, based on our limited imagination.
  • Our first step toward God is to realize our rebellion against Him. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3), a recognition of need.
Repentance (Exodus 32: 31-32; 33: 4-6)
  • The second step is repentance, a public show of remorse for our rebellion.
  • When Moses pointed out the people's idolatrous rebellion, they responded with an outward expression of the inward impression.
  • Similarly, Jesus noted, "Blessed are those who mourn" (Matthew 5:4).
  • True repentance has two parts: recognition of need and mourning.These days, repentance is unpopular, but it is a key teaching of the New Testament.
Request (Exodus 33:13-18)
  • Disappointed, Moses came to God, asking for more of Him, His glory.The Hebrew word for "glory" is kabod, a reference to weight, reputation, and honor. Moses had more experience with God than most—the burning bush, miraculous plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea—but he wanted more of God.
  • All people have a hunger for God, a longing to see Him. God put this hunger in our hearts, to whet our appetites for a final and full encounter with Him in heaven.
  • Heaven will be the culmination of our experience with God (see Psalm 17:15).When we see God, we will be satisfied.
  • As Jesus taught, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness "shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). Eventually, what Moses prayed for was found in the transfiguration, when Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus in His glory (see Matthew 17:1-13).   
Revelation (Exodus 34:5-7)
  • At the time, Moses didn't see the ultimate fulfillment, but he did receive the revelation. Moses received fifty-one words, a nine-fold description of God and what He does.
  • God's revelation forces us to live by faith. Peter reminded us, "All things that pertain to life and godliness [are given] through the knowledge of Him" (2 Peter 1:3). God's Word is His witness, both His written Word and Jesus, the living Word. Are you as excited about God's Word as His wonders?
Response (Exodus 34:8)
  • Moses didn't get what he wanted, but he got what he needed, so he worshipped. To worship when you don't get what you want is true worship.
  • Longing for more of God is part of loving Him. We won't be fully rewarded until heaven. Worship is better than wandering. God's Word is enough for now; full satisfaction will come when we see Him face to face.
  • Invisible does not mean unavailable; the most important thing is not that you see God, but that God sees you (see Psalm 139).
Practice

Connect Up: In Exodus 3:14, God described Himself as "I AM WHO I AM." This is the ultimate statement of self-sufficiency, self-existence, and immediate presence. God's existence does not depend upon anyone else. His plans are not contingent upon any circumstances. He promises that He will be what He will be. He is able to do what He wills and to accomplish what He wills to accomplish. How does knowing that God is eternal, unchanging, and self-sufficient change your outlook on life and the future? How does God's person relate to His promises? If God is true, what about what He says? Share a time when God showed Himself strong to you, confirming His word and work in your life.

Connect In: Talk about the connection between the two types of God's Word—the Bible and Jesus. How are they similar? How are they different? Here are a few thoughts to get you started: Both are called the Word, and each has two natures (divine and human).

Connect Out: Read Psalm 34:8, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Matthew 5:6, John 4:14, and John 6:33-35. How would you express to an unbeliever that there is a hunger in their heart for God? Using your own life as an example, what points would you propose to him or her? For example, a yearning for meaning and purpose, or a moral compass. Can we know the difference between right and wrong without God setting the standard?

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/14/2020
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Seeing Truth Clearly
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Hiram Johnson said, "The first casualty in war is truth." God’s people have been in a cosmic battle since the fall. Satan’s first allegation against truth was in Genesis 3:1: "Has God indeed said...?" Deception regarding truth is Satan's primary occupation. We now live in what might be dubbed a post-truth culture wherein the very idea of absolute truth is considered archaic and even offensive. In this series, we will look to the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:21) to reinforce our foundation and engender biblical literacy. Here at the end of Paul's life, he could foresee the abandonment of truth, and he gave Timothy this antidote: "Preach the Word!"
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6/21/2020
completed
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Seeing God as Father
Luke 11:2
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
God is presented in Scripture by a variety of images. He is called our Rock, our Refuge, our Warrior, our Shepherd, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Redeemer, our Fountain, our Husband, and our Vinedresser. But no motif is as powerful and personal as seeing God as our Father. With this title, the invisible God becomes the intimate God. Today, on Father’s Day, we consider the singular phrase "Our Father in heaven" as an introduction to the doctrine of God. Let’s turn over each word and mine the depths of the riches contained in this great verse.
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7/5/2020
completed
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Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?
Dr. Steven Collins
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Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom.
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There are 3 additional messages in this series.