Reading For Wednesday Exodus 32:1-35
We are a people that quickly forget what God has done and revise history to move in directions that are comfortable. The people were not sure if they would ever see Moses again. After all, he had been in the flaming, cloud-covered mountain for forty days without food or water. The people take matters into their own hands and tell Aaron to make gods to follow. With the disappearance of Moses, perhaps they believed they had also lost their connection with God. Aaron does not argue with the people but complies and instructs them to bring their earrings to him. He melted down the gold and fashioned an idol cast in the form of a calf. Aaron had an altar built before the idol proclaimed a festival to honor God. Moses learns what was taking place in the camp and God is prepared to wipe them out and form a new people from the descendants of Moses. Moses immediately begins to pray for the people. He asks the Lord to consider the power he had displayed on behalf of Israel, the potentially blasphemous thoughts of the Egyptians if he destroyed the people and his promises to the patriarchs. God relented from the destruction he had threatened.
Moses descends the mountain carrying the two tablets that had been inscribed by God himself. At some point in down the mountain, Joshua joins Moses. Joshua interpreted the noise coming from the camp as the sound of war, but Moses knows what the sound is. When Moses saw the calf and the dancing of the people, he lost it and cast down the tablets and smashed them at the foot of the mountain. He burned the idol and pulverized the overlay. He scattered the remains on the water and made the guilty drink it. Next, he confronted his brother and reprimanded him for leading the apostasy. Aaron blamed the people and the fire because all he had done was throw the gold earrings into the fire, and the calf just appeared. Aaron’s explanation was utterly ridiculous. Moses stood in the gate of the camp and cried, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” The Levites, perhaps feeling guilty because transgression assembled at Moses’ side. They were instructed to strap on their swords and pass through the camp sparing no one who was still walking in disobedience. Three thousand died that day as Moses commends the Levites for their zeal. They had put faithfulness to their God above loyalty to their brothers. The next day Moses reminded the people of the egregiousness of their sin, and he promised to make atonement for them through prayer. Moses prayed for his people and poured out his heart on their behalf.
Moses acknowledges the great sin of the people and begs God’s forgiveness. If God would not forgive them, then he would forfeit his own name from the Book of Life. The Lord assures Moses that only those who sinned in the apostasy would be blotted from the Book of Life because God is just. God assures Moses that his angel would go before them, and shortly after that the Lord sent a plague among the people to punish them for their sin.
Thing To Consider:
- Do we ever grow impatient waiting on God and sin?
- How is worship distorted today?
- Why does God have to act in wrath against sin?
- Why do you think Aaron was allowed to live?
- What can we learn from Moses about praying for those who are in sin?
- If God forgave their sin, why did the plague still come to them?