Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
The people did not know what had happened to Moses. Perhaps he had been killed. They went to Aaron and asked him to make them gods to lead them on their journey. They had, no doubt, seen the Egyptians' gods and wanted something similar to those. Oh how soon we forget! Even though God had done many great signs and wonders right before their eyes, they still were ready to turn away from Him. So many people don't want to wait on God but are seeking something new and different to worship. But God will come in His own time and He is always right on time! You would think Aaron would try to stop them, after all, he was the high priest and supposed to be a Godly example. But instead, he helped them in their apostasy. They had just assured Moses that they would keep all of God's commandments. All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. But as we will see, they broke the laws of God over and over again.
7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
This would have been a great temptation to most men. To have God make them the Father
of a great nation, not just a leader. But Moses was such a humble man. He was a great man,
wise and thoughtful and a man of prayer as well. This is one of the greatest lessons on prayer
in the Bible. Moses spoke simply and frankly to God. He said what was in his heart without a
bunch of flowery, unnecessary words. Some, when they pray, get so hung up on the words
themselves they lose the meaning in the prayer. God doesn't judge our prayers by the
amount of pious words we use. He just wants us to say what we are feeling, what we are needing
and what is in our hearts.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Moses then reminds God of the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses caused God to change His mind. Our lives are not predestined. We do not have to follow any certain path in life that has already been determined for us. Situations can be changed by honest, fervent prayer, even death can be stalled by prayer. (Isaiah 38:5)
19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. 20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strowed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
The people were dancing, singing and having a party (no doubt drunk and naked). This is the affect false gods have on people. Moses was so angry he threw down the stones the 10 commandments were written on and they broke. The Israelites had broken the laws of God even before receiving them all! Moses then took the golden image, melted it down, sprinkled it in water and made the people drink it. I'm sure it tasted bitter to them, that is always the after taste of sin. Notice what Aaron does when he is confronted with his sin.
22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
In other words, this isn't my fault Moses, this is your fault. You went off and left the people and they felt you had deserted them. Then when I threw their gold jewelry into the fire, the calf just came out! (But notice that verse 4 says he fashioned it with a graving tool so now he has added lying to his list of sins.)
25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) 26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
When Moses saw the condition of the people, God's chosen people, he knew he had to do something extreme. He had to stop this wickedness and at the same time teach the people a lesson. He asked, "Who is on the Lord's side?" and the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, stepped forward. No doubt being the only ones sober, they drew their swords and began to cut the sin out of Egypt. Verse 28 says about 3,000 men died that day. Sometimes God's people have to take a stand for what's right.
31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. 35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
When we have sinned, the very first thing we should do is go to God, tell Him what we have done and ask His forgiveness. Moses "named" Israel's sin and then he stood with his people to take their punishment with them. He told God if He planned to disinherit Israel then He should disinherit him, too. But notice God's answer, "Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." Just as no man can receive salvation for another, no man can take on the sins of another. The only one who has ever been able to do that was Jesus Christ. God did punish the people for making the golden calf. He sent plagues among them. Sin always has far reaching consequences.
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