TOAM07 – Session 1: Stephen Van Rhyn on Exodus 32

Stephen van Rhyn
Stephen is the Lead Elder of Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town, South Africa. He is married to Anna and has two young boys, Josh and Ben, and one daughter, Bethany.

See also Andrew Fountain’s notes from this talk, Leadership Lessons From Moses and Aaron.

Together On a Mission 2007 continues to have an impact as the talks are beginning to be made available on the Net. This talk from Stephen Van Rhyn (otherwise known as ‘the other guy’!) is one of the first two made available online for which you can order a CD.

He took us to Exodus 32. Stephen began by explaining that this story teaches us that leadership matters. There was a direct correlation between the spiritual health of the leader and the spiritual health of the people. What we do matters. When Jesus said the crowds were harassed and helpless, they had experienced tremendous healing where ALL were being healed. This was because the people had no leader. There is no leadership responsibility, however small, that is insignificant. The kingdom of God advances on delegated leadership.

The church advances as it multiplies leadership. We are called to plant growing vibrant churches, and if we are to achieve this, great senior leadership is not enough. We need depth — great leadership at every level.

Aaron was seduced by his own success. We need to remember that we all need help. Aaron forgot that he was there because of Moses, and fell into pride and deception. Proverbs 16:18 warns against pride.

Aaron abdicated his leadership. He tried to give the people what they wanted rather than seeking God. The people are leading and he simply implements the desires of the people. This attitude pervades the Church today — give people what they want, take a survey, etc. We should be courageously leading the people to do what is right in the sight of God. We need to love people enough to give them God’s best even if that is not popular. We cannot simply aim to entertain people and give them what they want!

Aaron called for God’s people to sacrifice the wrong things. They weren’t just sacrificing jewelery; they were sacrificing the Word of God and the presence of God. The ten commandments had already been given.

The Church is often reduced to an echo of the culture rather than a prophetic voice. We should be a thermostat, not a thermometer. Matthew Paris seems to understand the Bible more than many in the Church! We need to be those who have a submissive attitude to the Bible.

The presence of God was to be withdrawn. Moses wouldn’t settle for an angel. Christian maturity is an increased desperation for the presence of God. The gifts can mess up our carefully constructed worship services.

Stephen contrasts Aaron’s response to being found out in sin with David’s response. God can deal with sin, but wants us to own up to it. We cannot fool God. When we are honest we find a God who is slow to anger and delights to forgive us. We need to admit what we have done wrong to the God of grace.

Moses’ response indicated five things from which we can learn:

  1. Moses sought God.
  2. He wasn’t content with personal success at the expense of corporate failure — he didn’t take the option of destroying the people of God.
  3. He didn’t stay static in the face of evil. One man can radically change a nation.
  4. Moses called Aaron to account. Senior leadership cannot have an “anything goes” attitude. This saved him from destruction.
  5. Moses led and lived for the glory of God.

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