Read Exodus 32 -- 34
In Today's Reading:
Moses delayed on Mount Sinai; Aaron's golden calf; its destruction; death of 3,000 Israelites; Law renewed; God's Covenant; three feasts
Moses was on Mount Sinai when God gave him two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with 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 to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to 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 know not what is become of him (32:1). It didn't take Aaron long to make a golden calf, and they said, These be your gods, O Israel. . . . 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 sacrifices were idolatry.
Returning to the camp, Moses saw how quickly the Israelites had corrupted themselves (done wrong) (32:7). Did they think that a golden calf, which they could see, was better to 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 before, the whole congregation had sworn: All that the LORD has spoken we will do (19:8).
False worship often leads to irresponsible, immoral conduct. Let us compare the Israelites' sins with our own behavior. Most of us would reject man-made idols; but think how easily money, possessions, talents, hobbies, and success become idols for many. The golden calf stands as a symbol of human intellect which devises its own system of devotion. The Israelites rejoiced in the works of their own hands (Acts 7:41). The world admires the independent person who is determined to be in control of his own life.
The Apostle Paul reminds us of what we should avoid. Although they knew God, they glorified (honored) Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain (empty, worthless) in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:21).
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.
As the One Who is ever-present. My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest (peace) (Exodus 33:14). He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5; compare Matthew 11:28).
Government Officials: Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS) · Country: Malta (381,000) about 60 miles south of Sicily · Major languages: Maltese and English · Religious freedom · 97% Roman Catholic; 2% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Your prayers should be lifted up with confidence in God (Psalm 56:9,11).
Optional Reading: Matthew 28
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:6