Michael Youssef - Treasure That Lasts - Part 12
One of the great examples of compromise in the Scripture is Aaron, the brother of Moses. Whenever Aaron was thrust into a place of leadership, whenever Aaron was thrust into a place of responsibility, his integrity was found wanting. You see it throughout the Scripture, but you're going to see it very clearly today in Exodus 32. His preoccupation with popularity at any price, his preoccupation with going along to get along overwhelmed his conviction every time. And my beloved friends, this is beyond tragic when it happens in the church of Jesus Christ. Every single one of us, including your pastor, face the pressure to compromise every single day. And so, when I tell you I really understand, I do understand Aaron's temptation in Exodus 32, I do understand it.
I want to share a secret with you. Can I tell you a secret about me? Don't tell anybody, okay? It's going to be just between you and me. I feel that pressure more keenly than many of you think. I feel these temptations more often than any of you can imagine. I stare down compromise in the eye on a daily basis. And sometimes, I get more weary of the hammering away than I'm willing to admit. Keep that as a secret. But I'm also feel that I'm getting much closer than ever before to what I often call, and you hear me call it, the audience of one. Every one of us are going to have that audience of one. And as I get closer to that day of having the audience of one, I'm not concerned so much of what I'm going to say to him as much as what he would say to me.
And so, when I read Exodus 32 and see Aaron gave into the pressure, we all can understand the factors that can lead to compromise in life, right? These temptations to compromise are not really an objective matters to me, they're not. This temptation to give into the pressure of culture is not merely a nice subject for me as a pastor, as a preacher to dispassionately talk about. It is a daily confrontation that none of us should take lightly. Let me repeat this, it is a daily confrontation that none of us should take lightly. There are basically three factors that you find right here in this text, three factors that play a very important role in leading believers into compromise, three things.
First of all, the overwhelming desire to be liked will always lead you to compromise. Secondly, the reliance on your own clever tactics, your own wisdom, and your own strategy will not prevent you from compromising. Thirdly, making excuses for the compromise will not absolve us from the consequences of compromise. First factor is the desire, or I should say overwhelming desire to want to be liked. Now, we all like to be liked. But when it becomes an overwhelming desire, then you need to be forewarned. It's stronger in some more than others. But let me stop here and explain something.
This is very different from being blessed by God's favor to your faithfulness. It's very different, this is very different. There is a world of difference between God blessing you, and brings you blessing your way because of your faithfulness, and a deep longing of wanting to be liked regardless of the cost. Here in Exodus 32, you're going to find Aaron is responding to a mutiny, it is really a mutiny. It wasn't so much a mutiny against Moses, it was a mutiny against Yahweh. It was a mutiny against Yahweh. But Aaron was not the man to stand against this popular culture. Aaron was not the man who would put an end to that mutiny regardless of the cost. Instead, he discovered that he really is prone to compromise. Please listen to me, this principle never fails, never fails. Wanting to be liked will lead to compromise.
So, the first thing to watch for is that overwhelming desire to be liked will get you every time. Secondly, the reliance on your own clever tactics and strategy will not prevent you from compromise. I'm going to show it to you in the text here. You see, Aaron relied on his strategy, on his tactics, and it failed miserably. Can you see it, verse 2 of Exodus 32? I will show you exactly what I mean, verse 2. Aaron asked them to give up their gold and silver. Cough it up. What is he doing? He is relying on his own wisdom, not God's wisdom. He was relying on his own worldly thinking, not godly thinking. In his clever strategy, if they know it's going to cost them something, they won't do it, say, "No, no, no, don't worry about it, we don't need that".
And so, he asked them to give up the gold and the silver and the jewelry and everything that they're wearing, give it all up. It's like, "Well, you know, wouldn't they change their mind? I mean, when they think if it was going to cost them something"? What is Aaron doing? Aaron appealed to their materialistic instincts instead of the fear of the Lord. Are you with me? Take it from me, take it from me, their natural mind is willing to spend a fortune for their pleasures and their idols more than anything else. And this is what Aaron did not understand, he really didn't. If there is a contest, if there's ever a contest between materialism and idolatry, idolatry wins hands down. But then most times they go together, most times they go together.
Poor Aaron, he thought that if he hits them at their pocketbooks, they would change their mind about wanting to worship the bull god of Egypt. Remember I told you this when I was talking about all the ten plagues that God brought against the gods of Egypt? Remember I said to you of all the gods of Egypt, the frogs and all the other stuff, the Nile, the one that really attracted the Israelites, who were there as slaves in Egypt, the one that attracted them the most, the ones that they really accepted and they were practicing is the worship of Apis, the bull god, the god of strength. That really was Israel's god that they followed in Egypt.
Hear me out please. Clever human strategy and wisdom sooner or later will backfire. It really will every time. Beloved, listen to me, when you face temptation, be very careful on relying on human wisdom to defeat it. When you face temptation, be very careful in trying to be clever with the devil. You're no match for him. You will blow it every time. I'm not trying to discourage you, I'm going to show you the answer. If you try to overcome your weaknesses, that whatever they are and they're all different for different people, if you try to overcome your weaknesses in your own strength, you are setting up yourself for defeat. Am I preaching the truth?
But here's something you must never, never, never, never forget. Spiritual battles can only be fought and won by spiritual weapons. Aaron wrongly thought that they would never part with their material possessions. Aaron did not understand that people by nature are willing to spend their fortune on their pleasures. Aaron did not understand that people by nature are willing to give up what they have to support their addictions, whatever they may be. Aaron did not understand that people by nature more than willing to give up what they have for what they want. So, when the people of Israel brought all their gold, and their silver, and their earrings, and all the material possession that was in their hands, they brought it in. When they did this, Aaron realized that he is now a victim of his own clever techniques. He's taken by his own snare.
Now, he is compelled to make the image of the calf, the god Apis of Egypt. And when they saw the golden calf, they were delighted. Look at verse 8, they were delighted. "These are your gods, O Israel, that brought you out of Egypt". Now, let me stop here and tell you something very important just to be faithful to the text. The Israelites' intention was not to repudiate Yahweh. It was not intended that way at all. But they wanted to do is to worship Yahweh under the name of Apis. What does that mean? It means that they wanted to worship God on their own terms. They wanted to create a God on their own image. They wanted a God who understands their feelings, and desires, and their wants, and their whims, just like so many people in our culture today, even those who name the name of Christ.
Oh, they believe in God. Oh, they even believe in Jesus. But they want a God who does for them what they want. They want a God in heaven who's just okay with whatever they do. They want a God who will not pour out his wrath, which seems to be coming upon the world sooner than we think, upon the sin of the world. They want a God who says, "Baby, whatever you want is all yours, just..." It's a genie basically they want. They want a God who does not condemn sin. They want a God who does not demand holiness, but makes them happy all the time. They want a God who does not condemn any immorality, but uses power to make them happy.
Have you come across some people like that? I see them all the time, I talk with them all the time. Please, please, please, please don't ever forget that this reverting to idolatry or trying to visualize God in any other way other than how he revealed himself happened after Exodus 20. You say, "What's big about Exodus 20"? See, in Exodus 20, God gave them the Ten Commandments. And what does the commandments say? You shall not make a graven image of Yahweh. They said, "This is Yahweh, who brought you out of Egypt". Oh, but it's so much easier to be in church that says, "Oh, certain sins, we don't talk about these".
It's so much easier to be in a church that says, "Oh, you know the sexual perversion? That was associated with paganism in the Old Testament, but not in modern day New Testament. Christians can be involved in that, but they're okay because they're saved". I know this is hard in a culture that's filled with compromise, I just know that, I know that. But don't ever forget, don't ever forget that faithfulness to the truth has its own reward. If it's not on this life, it will be in heaven. I read the other day that by the Spanish saying that goes something like this, "He who goes with the wolves learn to howl".
We're hearing a lot of howling these days. Aaron, like so many compromising Christians, deep down he knew what he's doing was wrong. It's not that he didn't, he knew deep down, I'm going to show it to you from the Word of God, he knew that that golden calf was wrong and he shouldn't have done it. Oh, but he just couldn't help it. He couldn't help it because the pressure was just too great, the coercion was relentless, the attraction was so alluring. Under the circumstances, it just could not be avoided, right? Couldn't be avoided. Look at verse 21. When Aaron was confronted by Moses, he never denied the wrong, never, not one time. He merely explained it away. Verses 22 to 24, Aaron gives Moses the rationale for compromise. Beloved, listen to me, here's the truth. Nobody, nobody can force you to compromise. Nobody can force me to compromise. We choose to compromise.
The first factor that will lead to compromise is the overwhelming desire to be liked. The second factor is the reliance on your own tactics and your own clever strategy will not prevent you from compromising. And the third factor, making excuses will not absolve us from the consequences of compromise. There are some who'd say because Jesus saved us eternally from hell, therefore it makes really no difference how we live our lives. There are others who rationalize their compromising lifestyle by saying, "Well, you know, these are the circumstances in which God has placed me. I didn't choose to be here. These are the surroundings that God permitted in my life, therefore this is the direction God must be wanting me to go".
This is precisely Aaron's reaction when he was confronted by Moses. I want you to see it in the Scripture. I don't make the stuff up, it's in the Word of God. If it's not in the Word of God, I don't want to say it. In fact, Aaron's reaction is a classic example of our own tendency toward rationalizing and self-deception. Are you with me? Look at verse 21. Here's what Moses is saying, "Aaron, what did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin"? Verse 22, Aaron's response, "Don't be angry with me, my lord. You know how these people are prone to evil". When all else fails, blame somebody else, right? Take it like a man.
Well, I'll tell you the most inexplicable rationalization is in verse 24. I'm going to tell you every time I read verse 24, I chuckle. I really do, I laugh. Not aloud. I want you to just look at it, look at with me. He said, "I took the gold and the silver, I threw it in the fire, and pop came the weasel". Wow, it's a miracle. And the Bible said he chiseled and he carved, and so but he said, "Moses, no, don't be angry with me. This is a miracle from God. Isn't that wonderful? I just threw the gold and the silver, and Apis came in, the calf came out". If it wasn't sad, it would be funny. Here's a fact. We're all manufacturers, we all are manufacturers in a way or another, making good, making trouble, making excuses.
This, my beloved friends, is a classic response of a guilty person. It's a classic response. A guilty person who will do anything, anything except the one thing that he or she needs to do, and that is confess and repent. You see, God was not amused by Aaron's excuse. And he really wanted to destroy the entire Israelite community. If it weren't for Moses going on his face and begging God, not only that he interceded on their behalf, he said, "Okay, take my life if that helps". God wanted to start a whole new generation with him, he said, "No, no, no, take me. Keep on persevering with your people". And God spared Israel, but not the 3,000 leaders who led the mutiny to compromise. They were not spared.
Consequences should not be taken lightly simply because he does not respond in a week or two, or even a year or two, or maybe even a decade or two. That's the amazing thing about our God. But compromise has its consequences. Let me say that again 'cause I want you to repeat it the next time, compromise has its consequences. Can you say it with me? Compromise has its consequences.
I think this message has spoken to all of us. I know it's spoken to me, let me assure you. God does his business with me when I'm working on the message. It's my prayer, it's my prayer if this is a serious warning to some, respond. Please don't shrug it off. It's been an encouragement to you, give praise. You might be at the verge of compromising. And God said, "I let you hear this message for a reason". You might be in the middle of a compromise, God says, "Never too late, come, come". Either way, please let me plead with you. Don't take the warning from the Word of God lightly.