God as Protective Angel
by David Thompson
This is a very interesting reading, the latter half of Exodus chapter 23. God says there will be an angel guiding and avenging for the Israelites. It is sometimes hard to fathom what God had in mind for moving back into the Holy Land (chapter 14:19 of Exodus). The commentaries say that this was no ordinary angel, but God Himself leading the Israelite army on to victory after victory. He promised to protect them and love them as long as they did not follow the idols of the people they would defeat.
What idols are in your life? As Aaron Thompson stated in his September 29th sermon, maybe one, or more, of the following could be our idol, "footballs, bulls charging through banks or many other things." These and many others could draw us away from the true God.
He also said what I fear are stumbling blocks for many and that was secretive habits that put a wedge between God and us. It's like borrowing money from another person and not paying it back quickly. The person you owe money doesn't say a word about repayment but we try to avoid that person and we make excuses to ourselves why we hide from him or her.
With God, it is as easy as asking for forgiveness for those things and He will gladly accept it. Not only will He accept it, he promises in Psalm 103:12 "as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." That is good news. He not only forgives us, but he promises He will toss the whole matter out of His mind. As usual, we are not so good with our forgiving. We might forgive a transgression, but it is something that we remember. Oh, to be more like God, so when we say "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Matt. 6:9-13 and church liturgy) we too forgive and forget.
God is our protector and promises us He is there when the hard times come. Our thanks to Him is breaking down the sacred stones of our idols. And, it is important to walk away from them. He finally finishes the passage with these wise words, "Do not let them live in your land (heart) or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you" (Exodus 23:33).
Dear God, I am in awe of your attributes. You are a loving and caring God. Help us internalize today's message and help us identify what are our "stumbling blocks." We want to have a close relationship with you, but find that in the hidden corners of our mind and heart other things draw us away. We love you, Lord, and want to live for you. Amen.