Monday, July 16, 2007

Session 1 - Stephen van Rhyn at TOAM 07!

Stephen van Rhyn is the lead elder of Jubilee Church in Cape Town, South Africa. His opening messages to previous conferences have always been significant so it was with expectation that we prepared to hear him speak.

His text was: Exodus 32:1-14, 19-26, 31 - the Golden Calf.

The context to this is dramatic and significant - the people of Israel have been brought out from Egypt to Mount Sinai. Moses receives instruction from God to build the Tabernacle - God wants to leave the mountain and dwell with His people. There are two important things about leadership in this; 1. Leadership Matters. Who were are, the decisions we make and the things we do matters. "Healing every disease and sickness". Can we imagine such a visitation of power that this is true in the UK? Despite the miracles Jesus had compassion because the people had compassion on them because they were like "sheep without a shepherd". Even in revival - leadership matters. 2. Leadership Matters at Every Level. The kingdom of God advances on delegated leadership. It isn't enough to have senior leaders - apostles etc. We need a depth of leadership at every level.

There are four mistakes that Aaron made and five things Moses did right.

1. Aaron was seduced by his own success.

(v1). We all tend towards Aaron-type leadership rather than Moses. Most of us are building on someone else's foundation but Aaron couldn't handle his success very well. The gathering to him blinded him to the fact that he needed Moses help. We all need help no matter how long we have been in leadership. When we forget we need help, we become vulnerable to pride and deception.

2. Aaron abdicated his leadership.

The text showed the people are leading - not Aaron leading the people. Our primary goal is as leaders is to do what is right in the sight of God not the people. What is your goal as a leader? To please God or your people? (Col 1:28, Gal 4:19). Paul's leadership was a focussed determination for Christ to be manifest in the people.

3. Aaron got the people to sacrifice the wrong things - The Word and Presence of God.

The Word of God.

They had already received the 10 Commandments. They had been told explicitly not to worship other idols. Aaron was asking them to disobey the Word of God. This is a tragedy! The church isn't a prophetic voice at present but an echo of the culture. "A thermometer rather than a thermostat" (Martin Luther King). We will reach no nation if we don't honour God's Word. What will determine our attitude to God's Word is not our excellent heritage but the state of our own hearts. Let us not be found as those who are functionally cutting out chunks of Scripture because it doesn't suit us in the 21st century.

The Presence of God.

The people of God were willing to sacrifice the cloud of glory for a golden calf. Our danger is that as we become more successful, we dial down on the things of the Spirit. That thinking is the exact opposite to Moses. The promise of God's Presence carried weight with Moses. 30 chapters later we find him pleading for the Presence of God. An angel wasn't enough! Nothing but the Presence of God will do! Moses was saying that the identify of the people is not the law but the Spirit of God. Christian maturity is an increased desperation for the Presence of God.

4. Aaron didn't own up to his own actions.

(v24).He inferred that the calf was a miracle from God. The thing that stops the work of God in our lives is unconfessed sin. He can deal with our honesty. God knew what Aaron had done! When we are honest we find a God slow to anger and abounding in love.

But Moses did five things right!

1. Moses sought God.

He sought God when things were right and wrong. Deuteronomy 29 tells us that Moses fasted 40 days and 40 nights when he heard about the calf.

2. He wasn't content with personal success at the expense of corporate failure.

(v10). It could have been very tempting to accept God's offer to begin a new race again with him as the father instead of Abraham. But he knew that this was not what leadership was about. Leadership isn't about becoming the biggest deal around! If the people lost - he lost!

3. Moses didn't remain static in the face of evil.

A nation can be involved in national idolatry yet one man anointed by God can change the whole climate. Moses took charge! We don't have to get fatalist about this or the state of our nations. One individual can make a difference with a God-given passion. Let's not get overwhealmed with our culture.

4. Moses called Aaron to account.

Senior leadership cannot have a laissez faire attitude to the people they serve. Serving people means telling people they are not doing God's best when this is true. God wanted to destroy Aaron but Moses pleaded that he be saved. This wasn't heavy-handed leadership. Moses is a person you would want to be accountable to.

5. Moses led and lived for the glory of God.

The impulse of Moses life was for God's glory. His anger and actions were caused by God's Name becoming a laughing stock. His pre-eminent concern was for God's fame. Moses could have asked for anything - yet he asked and cared for the glory of God. More than anything he wanted God! God gave it! The effect is that by Exodus 40 God's glory fell on the Tabernacle. The purpose of God's glory was restored by Moses commitment to God's glory.

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