32:1 When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they ... said, "make us some gods who can lead us. We don't know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt." I couldn't help but notice the correlation to the 1,500 years before Jesus first coming to earth, and the 2,000 years since He was here with us, and how people grow faint-hearted waiting for Him to come down the mountain to us (remember Mt. Sinai is "the mountain of God"). Many people, both then and now, grow weary of waiting for their Messiah, and begin looking to idols (especially pleasure and pagan revelry), and false teachers/gods to lead them.
Why a cow? Wikipedia gives some insight into culture: In Egypt, from whence the Hebrews had recently come, the Apis Bull was the comparable object of worship, which the Hebrews were now reviving in the wilderness. The cult of the Apis bull god started at the very beginning of Egyptian history, probably as a fertility god connected to grain and the herds. This animal was chosen because it symbolized the king's courageous heart, great strength, virility, and fighting spirit. The Apis bull was considered to be a manifestation of the pharaoh, as bulls were symbols of strength and fertility, qualities which are closely linked with kingship. A metaphoric interpretation emphasizes the "gold" part of "golden calf" to criticize the pursuit of wealth.
Whenever I read about the cow worship, I think of my visits to India and how the cow is still sacred and worshipped. While it seems ludicrous, most of the religions in the world have similarities, both in truth and in lies. Hinduism is an ancient religion, and after some further study, their worship of cows came down from the same pagan gods that affected Egypt!
For a more in depth look at the worship of bulls, visit this informative website .
32:5 Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, "Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!" Funny how people try to mix paganism and authentic worship of the true God. We all do this. I'll give you one of many great examples, but I know it was hard for me to accept when I first began studying it: Easter. I don't have time to elaborate here, but here is a very informative and compelling read on this pagan practice we have adopted, all the while claiming (and convincing ourselves) it is a "festival to the Lord." By the way, there are many more such practices. If you want more, ask.
32:15 Then Moses turned and went down the mountain. He held in his hands the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. This is the first covenant, God's Torah written in stone, but the New Covenant is found in Jeremiah 31:33: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my [Torah] in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."
32:20 He took the calf they had made and burned it. Then he ground it into powder, threw it into the water, and forced the people to drink it. Why? I love author/pastor Mark Batterson's suggestion:
I'm not sure I comprehend why Moses did what he did. But here's my take. What happens when you eat something? Nutrients are digested and everything else is excreted. They literally excreted an idol. I don't want to be crude, but I think God was making a graphic point. Look at your idol now. I don't know if it came out liquid or solid, but either way it was reduced to excrement. I think it was God's way of saying: your idol stinks!
32:19 He threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain. Do you hear it? "..."Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you..." 1 Corinthians 11:24
33:11 Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. I noticed that Beth Moore came under criticism for stating that we can each have our own personal Tent of Meeting." Some guy named Bob DeWaay said Beth was out of line as only Moses could have this privilege. I beg to differ with Bob. In the New Testament, we see the curtain in the Temple torn in two, from top to bottom, after Jesus died. That is when we were given access, as priests of Yahweh, to come directly into His presence in our own Tent of Meeting! By the way, Jesus also called those who obey Him, His "friends."
33:20 But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live." This verse tells us that all of the times people saw "God" in the Old Testament, they actually saw Jesus. No one has seen the Father. "No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father (John 6:46)." Can you imagine the day we finally get to look upon the Father?
26:74 Peter swore, "A curse on me if I'm lying-I don't know the man!" And immediately the rooster crowed. God's mercy is great, that He forgave Peter for this serious and complete denial!
33:6 The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. This is one of my favorite "aha moments." The word "Universe" translates literally from Latin, "single, spoken word"!
Questions for reflection:
Does it bother you that we have mixed pagan worship with Christianity? Why or why not? Do you think it matters to God? Why do you think pagan practices came into Christianity in the first place-what was the reason or agenda? (Could there have been a good reason?)
Have you ever thought of setting up a "Tent of Meeting"? What would it be for you? Where? Mine is probably taking walks alone with God. Some great conversations and holy moments have taken place. I encourage you to find your own Tent.