“Do something, Aaron. Moses is gone. You’re the man. Do something. Make us gods to lead us.” Aaron could tell they were getting restless. There were millions of the and one of him, so he caved. He set out a few offering plates, invited the ushers, and everyone threw their jewelry in plates. Then Aaron went to work. He melted the metal and molded the molten metal into a golden calf. When the people saw the calf, they shouted,” O Israel, these are the gods who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”

Aaron nodded. They’re happy. He’s happy. Everyone’s happy. But not everyone was happy. God told Moses the people had lost their mind and their morality, and God told him to get down there and do something about it before God came down to do something about it. So Moses hiked back down the mountain and he could hear dancing and singing. Joshua thought it was the sound of war, but Moses new better. When they got to the base of the mountain, Moses couldn’t believe his eyes.

He saw God’s people dancing unrestrained and unclothed in front of a golden calf days after God freed them. It’s not easy to get two million people’s attention when they’re in the throes of a party. So Moses looked in his hands at the two tablets of stone God just gave him. With all his might, he threw the ten commandments, and they chatted into a puzzle of stone. That God their attention. You could hear a feather fall on a flower. Moses had that look. Red face. Clenched fist. Bulging veins.

He marched right up to Aaron and asked, What did this people do to you that cause you to bring such a great sin on them?” Aaron was caught flat footed, so he lied. “Come on, Pastor. You know the people. They’re evil. They brought me their gold earrings and jewelry, I threw them in the fire, and voila, out came a calf.” Moses drew a very clear line. Either you’re with God or you’re against Him. By the end of that day, 3,000 Israelites who were against God died at the hands of those who were with Him.

For Israel, this newly free nation, this was one of her darkest days yet. Moses prayed a prayer for the people that saved their lives. His prayer closes Exodus 32. Now it was God’s turn to speak, and His reply opens Exodus 33. He told Moses to march away from that sinful site. Then God told them He was still going to give them all the land He promised them. He’d even send an angel to give them a tour and give their enemies the boot, but He wasn’t going.

Before you turn down the deal, Moses, think about it. You will get an angel escort to drive out all of your enemies, so you still get to live in peace in a land that flows with milk and honey. And all you lose is the presence of God. What do you think, Moses? Can you live without the presence of God? Is His presence that precious to you? What if God made the same with deal with us He made with Moses.

“Go ahead, print fliers. Play the videos. Unlock the doors. Turn on the lights. Sing the songs. Give the offering. Preach the sermon. Have church just like you want it. Sing as fast as you want or as slow as you want. Preach as loud or as soft as you want. Turn up the lights. Turn down the lights. Have all the music and messages your heart desires. I’ll even send an angel, but I won’t be there.”

Would you shake hands on the deal? Is His presence really that precious to You? Moses broke out the hammer and nails and pitched the tent of meeting so he could spend time in the presence of God. With every blow of the hammer and setting of the stake, Moses was reminding the children of Israel, we won’t take another step without God, because we won’t last without God.

I pray we feel like Moses felt. We’re just another group meeting on the weekends if He’s not with us. But we are the unstoppable church of the living God when He is with us. So if we must, we’ll stop singing. We’ll stop preaching. And we’ll start praying until we know our God is with us.★