Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Exodus 32,33,34 The Golden Calf

The Adoration of the Golden Calf'Image via Wikipedia

While Moses was up in Mount Sinai, talking to God, the people of Israel perceiving that they were without a leader immediately decided to create a god they could see.  In Exodus 32:2, Aaron, the brother of Moses, tells Israel to give him the gold earrings that the women were wearing.  Aaron then made a golden calf for Israel to worship.

What really struck me here is that earlier, in Exodus 29: 19 – 21, Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests.  Part of the consecration included, sacrificing a ram and then putting some of its blood on the ear lobe of the right ear, thumb of the right hand, and big toe of the right foot.  Through this ritual God was blessing the priest so that with his dominant side, he would hear God correctly, do God’s will, and walk in God’s way.  When Aaron asked for the earrings (which draw attention to the ears), it would seem that most of Israel, including Aaron, no longer heard God clearly; no longer were listening to God. They wanted to create a god they would see but from whom they would receive no directions; this idol would mutely stand by allowing Israel to worship in whatever manner they pleased without inconveniencing them with Truth.  The people of Israel wanted to live life their way while maintaining an appearance of worshipping something.  It's a lot like people today - everyone believes in something but very few know the true God, the I AM that I AM.

When Moses returned to the camp, the tribe of Levi rallied to him and slew three thousand people who rebelled against God.  In Exodus 32:29, God proclaimed a special blessing upon Levi and set them apart from all of the other tribes.

Even though these chapters recorded both God and Moses as being angry because Israel so quickly turned to idol worship, I see Moses as identifying himself more with God’s perspective.  After all of this anger was played out, Moses drew closer to God; he wanted to know God better.  In Exodus 34: 6 – 7, God defined Himself to Moses.

            The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate, and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin; yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.

In spite of how quickly and readily men turn away from God, the eternal I AM, I think that it is so reassuring to know that God first of all describes Himself as compassionate and gracious - that He desires to forgive sin, both then and today.

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