January 28

Read Exodus 32 -- 34

In Today's Reading:

Moses on Mount Sinai; Aaron's golden calf; its destruction; death of 3,000 Israelites; law renewed; God's covenant; three festivals.

Moses was on Mount Sinai when God gave him the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18). At the same time, something tragic was taking place at the base of the mountain. When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they assembled before Aaron and said to him, Come, make us gods who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt — we don't know what has happened to him! (32:1). It didn't take Aaron long to make a golden calf and he built an altar before it. . . . Early the next morning they arose, offered burnt offerings, and presented fellowship 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 hypocrisy.

Returning to the camp, Moses saw how quickly the Israelites had acted corruptly (32:7). Did they think that a golden calf, which they could see, was a better reminder of whom they worshiped than the invisible, yet ever present God? Or had they turned to Apis, an Egyptian god in the form of a bull? Only six weeks before, the whole congregation had sworn: All that the LORD has spoken we will do (19:8).

False worship leads to irresponsible moral conduct. Let us compare the Israelites' sins with our own 21st-century behavior. Most of us would reject man-made idols; but think how easily money, possessions, talents, hobbies, and success become idols for many. The apostle Paul reminds us that, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened (Romans 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. The world admires the independent person who is determined to be in control. They were celebrating what their hands had made (Acts 7:41).

Christ Revealed:

As the One who is ever-present. My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest (Exodus 33:14; compare Matt. 11:28; 28:20).

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS) · Country: Morocco (30 million) on the northwestern coast of Africa · Major languages: Arabic and French · Government very hostile to Christians and missions · 99+% Muslim; .5% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Pray for a greater desire to serve the Lord (Psalms 42:1-2).

Optional Reading: Matthew 28

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:6