Today we begin Exodus Chapter 32.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
Recall the six divisions of the Book of Exodus.
PART 1-THE DELIVERANCE NARRATIVE (Chapters 1-15)
PART 2: THE WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE (Chapters 15-18)
PART 3: COVENANT & LAW (Chapters 19-24)
PART 4: THE PRIESTHOOD & WILDERNESS TABERNACLE BLUEPRINTS (Chapter 25-31)
PART 5: THE GOLDEN CALF REBELLION (Chapters 32-34)
PART 6: THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE WILDERNESS TABERNACLE (Chapters 35-end)
We are now finally in Part 5 which deals with the Golden Calf rebellion and boy is this section just jam-packed with spiritual lessons and insights.
The key to understanding this section is to be aware that Israel was breaking the covenant just as Moses was on the mountaintop receiving it.
Talk about irony of ironies!!!
The whole time the Lord was lowering Himself to give Moses the covenant, a love letter so to speak that would allow for an intimate relationship between Him and His people, at that very moment Israel was committing the very acts the Lord had prohibited.
It’s also important to understand that the Lord considers what the people did in building the Golden Calf to be adultery.
Israel was supposed to be in union with the Lord, but once they brought another “god” into the equation, that union was broken.
They had also broken the 2nd Word of God which prohibits the making of carved images of any kind.
And what was the people’s rationale for what they had done?
Well, the Scriptures say “Get busy; and make us gods to go ahead of us; because this Moshe, the man that brought us up from the land of Egypt — we don’t know what has become of him”.
Is that a reason?!
Folks, what this really boils down to is that the people had become impatient and afraid.
Or to put it simply, they had lost their faith.
For the same reason, we all lose our faith.
We start focusing on difficult external circumstances instead of clinging to the promises of God.
To top things off, what makes this golden calf incident all the more blasphemous is the person the Israelites recruited to lead this whole sordid affair was the very man God had chosen to become their High Priest: Moses’ brother Aaron.
This was the very man who held up the staff of Moses and stood before Pharaoh speaking the miracles of God.
It just can’t get more tragic than this.
One has to ask the question, what in the world did the Hebrews think they were doing by making this golden calf?!
Well, the answer is in verses 4 and 5.
. They said,
“Isra’el! Here is your god,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”
On seeing this,
Aharon built an altar in front of it and proclaimed,
“Tomorrow is to be a feast for YHVH.”
Contrary to some commentators who incorrectly claim that the Israelites had one of their old Egyptian gods on their minds when they committed this idolatry, the original Hebrew clearly says they had built the calf to hold a feast for YHVH.
The people were using the Lord’s personal Name!
They really thought they were making a suitable image of the God of Israel!
It is chapters like this that mark the Bible as one of the most remarkable pieces of literature (of course, it is much, much more than mere literature).
Think about it, the gross sins and failures of a people God has set apart from all other people groups in the world to be a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation unto Him, the sins of this people are put on display for the whole world to see.
Israel isn’t painted as somehow superior to other people.
They aren’t depicted as less susceptible to committing evil or being above the temptations of sin.
Here we’re shown the the ugly reality of the human condition!
Israel’s fickleness, selfishness and rebellious nature are put on vivid display here.
And the truth is, Israel’s shortcomings are our shortcomings as well.
This chapter clearly reveals the tremendous gap that exists between God’s holy character and standards and a fallen mankind.