Scripture Reading: Exodus 34:11-28
We’re going to look in this lesson at something that puzzles a lot of people, including me. Sometimes we wonder how much we have to do for God, and how much He’s going to do for us. It’s hard to find the balance. The truth is that we both have roles to play. God has things He wants us to do, and then there are things He says He’ll do.
A quick look at Exodus chapter 34, verses 10-28, when God made a covenant with the Israelites, shows these two roles. If you take a look at that passage, you’ll see that God says there are things He’s going to do, and then He says there are things He wants them to do.
Here are a few things that God says He’s going to do for them:
- He’ll do wonders never before done in any nation of the world (verse 10)
- He’ll drive out the nations ahead of them (verse 11)
- He’ll enlarge their territory (verse 24)
And here are a few things that God wants them to do:
- Obey what He commands (verse 11)
- Don’t make cast idols (verse 17) (I think this was just a reminder about the golden calf, “That was a bad move guys, don’t ever do that again, OK?”)
- Celebrate the feasts and make sure to rest every seventh day (verses 18 and 21)
I think this is helpful for our own understanding of how we interact with God.
Sometimes we might sit back and mistakenly say, “It’s all in Your hands God. I’m not going to do a thing. I’m leaving it all up to You.” There are times when it’s important to simply pray, and pray, and pray. But prayer is a conversation with God, and oftentimes during those conversations, God tells us things that He wants us to do. In those times, we’ve got to do our part.
Other times, we might mistakenly think that we’ve got to do everything. We think that if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. We act as if God’s not likely to do anything for us. We forget that God has a huge role to play in everything we do. In the case of the Israelites, God’s role was to do certain things, like performing wonders never before done in any nation of the world, driving out nations before them, and enlarging their territory―little things like that. 🙂
So there are often these two things going on at the same time: things God will do, and things He wants us to do. We need to trust God to do His part, and we need to do our part to the best of our ability.
There’s a final point in this passage that I don’t want you to miss. God ends His conversation with Moses with these words:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant―the Ten Commandments” (Exodus 34:27-28).
Moses had just finished two back-to-back 40-day fasts. He had totally emptied himself so he could be totally filled with God. The words that God spoke to Moses in those quiet times together turned out to be some of the longest lasting words in the history of the world: the Ten Commandments. Three thousand years later they are still some of the most talked-about and cherished words ever written.
Our quiet times with God have power. This Exodus study is proof of that to me. It was during my own 40-day fast, almost three years before writing this devotional, that I first took the notes from the book of Exodus that have resulted in this study. What we do in our quiet times with God can have an effect days, months and even years into the future.
God wants us to spend time with Him, and to act on what He tells us to do during that time. God will do His part. He just wants us to do ours.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.