This conversation in Exodus 34 is a repeat. The first occurred while Israel was building a calf to replace God. Now, Moses has demolished the calf and has returned to the glory on the mount. God is giving instructions regarding the specific way He wants to be worshiped, which includes three set-apart times for feasting. The feasts will serve as reminders that Israel is God’s and His alone and that they are different from the nations around them. God wants them to see is it is HE who makes them a colorful contrast to the heathen, that their distinction isn’t because they are so unlike everyone else that they earned something from God. In fact, they’d just proven that their nature was exactly like everyone else’s-- drawn to idolatrous practices centered in feelings and logic. Through the feasts, however, God wanted them to remember that they were chosen, unique because their God was unlike any other god, that HE was without equal. They were to acknowledge His greatness by bringing Him their best and by focusing on His mighty acts. As they recalled what He’d done to deliver them, they were to see that He was the Sufficient One. That He alone was their salvation. He alone was their provider. He alone was their protector. And that He alone was worthy of their trust. But to trust meant coming TO God and forsaking what culture demanded. That’s where the kid came in. Nations around them practiced boiling kids in their mother’s milk, then sprinkling the substance on their orchards, gardens, and fields in a rite of fertility. This seemed logical since combining the young and what nurtured it was to invoke the power of growth and sustenance. But God was all Israel needed, and through trusting Him, they had no need to exhaust themselves with powerless rituals. Instead of fruitlessly toiling over their plantings, they brought their fruit to the Lord and celebrated Him. He did the rest. He made their crops flourish. He would even watch over their substance when they journeyed to a central feast location and left behind their homes, their fields, and flocks. They only had to worship.
When we make God the object of our worship, we leave behind the world’s value system and forsake its meaningless practices intended to fulfill our needs. Our worship looks foolish. It’s not in keeping with the customs of the time. Why give when you work hard for your money? people ask. Why all that church attendance? You could be having fun instead of sitting on a pew. Why all the restrictions? The questions come because they don’t understand. They don’t recognize the greatness of our God nor do they see that we are the beneficiaries, receiving from Him what our most strenuous efforts could never obtain. Our worship is but a reminder of the greater, an opportunity to recall who God is and who we are in Him. When we choose to offer our best, to trust Him and worship, then He takes care of the toil. He protects. He provides. We celebrate. We delight. We enjoy what the God of precision purposed, the holy, the spiritual--the meatier, richer blessings in Him.
Tip/Tidbit: Step away from toil today to celebrate the Giver and Blesser, the Sustainer and Savior. He is worthy of your focus and your trust.