Read Exodus 32
Moses delayed on Mount Sinai; Aaron's golden calf; its destruction; death of 3,000 Israelites; Law renewed; the Covenant of God; three feasts.
Moses was on Mount Sinai when God gave him the two tables of Testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God (Ex. 31:18). At the same time, something tragic was taking place at the base of the mountain. 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 (know) not what is become of him (32:1). It didn't take Aaron long to submit to their sinful demands and to make a golden calf, and he built an altar before it. . . . And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings (32:2-6).
A true Burnt Offering was a delight to the Lord since it symbolized full surrender to Him; but these idolatrous sacrifices were an abomination. The people were attempting to combine worship of the True God with the worship of idols.
Returning to the camp, Moses saw how quickly the Israelites had corrupted themselves (become apostate) (32:7). Did they think that a golden calf, which they could see, was a better object of worship than the invisible, yet ever-present God? Had they turned to Apis, an Egyptian god in the form of a bull? Only six weeks earlier, the whole congregation had sworn submission and obedience to God as their king, saying: All that the LORD hath spoken we will do (19:8).
The worship of false gods leads to irresponsible, immoral conduct. Let us compare the Israelites' sins with our own behavior. Most Christians would reject man-made idols. But, think about how easily money, possessions, talents, hobbies, and success become idols for many. Centuries later, the Apostle Paul spoke of those who, although they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but (their worship) became vain (foolish, worthless) in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Rom. 1:21).
The golden calf stands as a symbol of human intellect which devises its own system of worship apart from, or added to, the Word of God. Sadly, the world admires the independent, self-sufficient person who is determined to behave the way he wishes instead of the way of God. Don't be like the world or the Israelites, who rejoiced in the works of their own hands (Acts 7:41-43).
Thought for Today:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve (Luke 4:8).
As the One who is ever-present. My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest (peace) (Ex. 33:14). He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Heb. 13:5; compare Matt. 11:28; John 14:27).
32:12 mischief, evil intent; 32:20 strawed, scattered; 32:25 made them naked, let them get out of control; 34:10 terrible, marvelous, awesome.
Pray for Government Officials: Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (CA), Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (CA), Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (MS), Rep. Lou Barletta (PA), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) • Country: Panama (3 million) in southern Central America • Major languages: Spanish and English • Limited religious freedom • 78% Roman Catholic; 12% Protestant; 5% Muslim; .1% Eastern Orthodox • Prayer Suggestion: If the words of God abide in you, whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive (John 15:7).
Optional Reading: Matthew 28
Memory Verse for the Week: John 3:17