Exodus 32:1-6; 11-14
I read this is my study so decided to share it as an introduction to our lesson.
On Mount Sinai, Moses had received the Ten Commandments, had come down the mountain and delivered them to the people. In Exodus 24:3&7, the people had committed themselves to obey those laws. God then called Moses back up the mountain to receive more statutes and ordinances as well as the stone tablets. He took Joshua with him and left Aaron and Hur in charge of the people. On this second trip, Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. In Chapter 32, the scene shifts to what was happening back in the Israelite camp, which is summed up in one word: rebellion!
In our introduction we learned that Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights.
This is when God gives Moses the 10 Commandments written on stone and the plan for the tabernacle.
The best I can figure it out, Moses has ascended the mountain 5 previous times, this was the 6th time.
In the 5 previous times it does not mention the length of stay, but the sixth time it does.
How long was this “long time” the people had waited? 40 days and 40 nights.
While Moses is away the people party and build the Golden calf
This is where we picked today’s lesson.
Exodus 32:1-6 When the people saw that Moses was staying a long time before coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron, and said, “Come, make a god for us who will go in front of us. For we do not know what has become of Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt.” 2 Aaron said to them, “Take the objects of gold from the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took the gold objects from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from their hands, worked on it with a sharp tool, and by melting it, made it into a calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it. Aaron said to all the people, “Tomorrow will be a special supper to the Lord.” 6 So the next day they got up early and gave burnt gifts and peace gifts. The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play.
Then the people went to Aaron and said…… For we do not know what has become of Moses
Back in Exodus 20, right after the 10 commandments were given It says:18 All the people heard and saw the thunder and lightning, the sound of the horn, and the mountain smoking. And when the people saw it, they shook with fear and stood far away. 19 They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will listen. But do not let God speak to us or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so you may have enough fear of Him to keep you from sinning.”
As mentioned in the outline it says in Exodus 24:3 Moses came and told the people all the Lord said and all the Laws. All the people answered with one voice, saying, “We will do all that the Lord has spoken”
Obviously, God is testing the people and the leaders to see if they will honor the commitment they made to Him.
Did the people’s patience last for a long time or short time?
Doesn’t time mostly relate to what you are doing, rather than someone else?
If you are sitting around doing nothing, times goes by so slowly.
But when you are busy and active times passes very quickly.
Do you think the people were doing what God wanted them to be doing? NO!
They had already experienced the fear of God
They had already received the blessings of God.
What were they spending their time doing?
It appears that they were just sitting around waiting on Moses to come back down the mountain
It says in Romans 12:12 Be happy in your hope. Do not give up when trouble comes. Do not let anything stop you from praying
Do you think they had been giving thanks to God and honoring Him?
Do you think they had been praying for Moses?
Turn to James 1:2-8 My Christian brothers, you should be happy when you have all kinds of tests. 3 You know these prove your faith. It helps you not to give up. 4 Learn well how to wait so you will be strong and complete and in need of nothing. 5 If you do not have wisdom, ask God for it. He is always ready to give it to you and will never say you are wrong for asking. 6 You must have faith as you ask Him. You must not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave which is pushed around by the sea. 7 Such a man will get nothing from the Lord. 8 The man who has two ways of thinking changes in everything he does.
One would think from reading our lesson that they had way too much thinking time on their hands.
Instead of thinking of God’s way, they were thinking of their own ways.
It says in Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As people of God we need to pray regularly, seeking God’s will and not our own.
As people of God we should be praying for Godly wisdom out of our local, state and national leaders.
Now, let’s look at the testing of leaders
How did Aaron respond?
Take the objects of gold from the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.
The first thing that struck me was the fact that all 3 million people must have been wearing earrings if it was enough to melt down and make a calf idol of any size.
But more importantly…………Arron follows up with: He took the gold from their hands, worked on it with a sharp tool, and by melting it, made it into a calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
The creation of the idol by Aaron was a direct violation of the first two Commandments: Exodus 20:3-4 “You shall have no other gods before me,” and “You shall not make for yourself an idol.”
Aaron is the #2 man behind Moses. In fact, in Exodus 28:1 “Take from among the people of Israel your brother Aaron and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, to work for Me as religious leaders.
And back in Exodus 4, God appointed Aaron to be the spokesperson for Moses.
It is almost unbelievable that Aaron was not a stronger leader.
While we can definitely give Aaron fault for his leadership, do we lay all this responsibility at his feet?
Are there any other leaders among the people that should have been stepping up to support Aaron?
It says in Exodus 24:9-11 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy of the leaders of Israel. 10 And they saw the God of Israel. The ground under His feet looked like sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself. 11 He did not let His hand come against the leaders of Israel. But they saw God, and ate and drank.
Where was the leadership of 72 other men that saw the ground look like sapphire stone as clear as the sky, saw God and had a meal with Him.
Turn back to Exodus 18:24-26 Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel. And he made them leaders over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 26 They judged the people at all times. They would bring the big troubles to Moses. But they would judge every small trouble themselves.
If there is 3 million Israelites and it is broken down all the way to ten people get a leader then there are thousands of leaders in this community of God’s people.
Where were the thousands of leaders?
Made me think of Luke 10:2 These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So, pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.
If we do not have leaders that will lead then we need to become leaders ourselves.
The exact same thing is happening in this world today, many think they are following God, but they are not.
People know of God, we have seen evidence of God, but by in large we are not following God.
Romans 1:18-25 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Now to summarize the verses 7-10 left out between our lesson pages.
Ø Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down. For your people have turned to sin.
Ø They have been quick to turn aside from the way I have told them.
Ø They made a calf for themselves. They have worshiped it, and have said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’”
Ø The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and see, they are a strong-willed people.
Ø Now let Me alone, so My anger may be against them and I may destroy them. But I will make you into a great nation.”
Notice a couple of things:
Ø The Lord said to Moses – For your people have turned to sin
Ø I may destroy them. But I will make you into a great nation.”
See God told Moses that things between the two of them were good, it was the people he had a problem with.
God also said, I will make you into a great nation.
In short, God didn’t need those same people to accomplish His plan, God could raise up more decedents from Moses.
After all, God made everything out of nothing.
He made Eve out of Adam
He made dry ones live again
And He can make stones cry out in praise if people will not.
God was testing Moses.
Moses could have easily said to God, I hear you Lord, zap them, take them out. I am tired of leading these hard-headed people that won’t listen to anything You tell them.
But Moses is a different kind of leader, let’s look at what he did.
Exodus 32:11-14 Then Moses begged the Lord his God, saying, “O Lord, why are you very angry against Your people whom You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and destroy them from the earth’? Turn from Your anger and change Your mind about destroying Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, who were your servants. You promised them by Yourself, saying, ‘I will make your children become as many as the stars of the heavens. And I will give all this land I have spoken about to your children. It will be theirs forever.’” 14 So the Lord relented about the things He said He would do to His people.
Moses BEGS to God on behalf of the people.
Moses said: why are you very angry against Your people
Notice earlier God said they were Moses’s people. Here Moses is saying to God, they are Your people.
Moses also says, You brought them out of Egypt, not me. It was Your power, not mine.
Moses appealed to God not to destroy the people on three points:
1. God’s previous work for Israel (v. 11)
2. God’s reputation and glory (v. 12)
3. God’s word (v. 13).
Because Moses knew the word of God and knew God’s nature, he could have an intimate conversation with God.
It says in verse 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Did God change His mind? NO!
Relent means to abandon or mitigate a harsh intention or cruel treatment.
Remember, this was a test for Moses.
It says in James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective
That is exactly what happen. Moses prayed for the people and God healed them.
I heard someone say this week: God may change His methods, but He never changes His mind.
There were still consequences for their sin.
Did any of those people get to the promise land? NO. Remember that generations died in the wilderness.
Did a great nation of Israel get to the promise land? Yes
Did God fulfill His promise? Yes!
This was my weekly quote and Bible verse on my itinerary:
Anyone can revolt. It is more difficult to spend our lives finding sincere and fitting means of expression for our temperament and our gifts.
Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
God’s people at the bottom of the mountain should have let this be on their thoughts as well.