Introductory Note: This lesson we get a little reprieve from all the reading. Enjoy!
Summary of passage: While Moses was up on the mountain, the people became afraid and asked Aaron to make them new gods to go before them since something probably happened to Moses on the mountain. So Aaron took all the gold earrings from the people and made them into a golden calf as their new god. Aaron made an altar to the calf and made sacrifices to it. Then they had a party.
God told Moses to go down off the mountain as the people have become corrupt. God was so angry He told Moses to leave Him be so that He could destroy them and find a new people. Moses pleaded for the people, saying the Egyptians would only gloat if God killed them. Moses reminded God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and to make their descendants as numerous as the stars. So God relented and did not destroy the people.
3a) Simple: They were afraid and impatient. They thought God had abandoned them and they wanted a god to go before them on their journey. They were afraid Moses was dead on the mountain and they didn’t want to wait around any longer.
b) Moses had left Aaron in charge while he was away (Exodus 24:14) so when the people asked Aaron to make a god, Aaron supported the idea and helped them. Imagine what would have happened if Aaron had faith in God and had told the people they were idiots and to have faith and patience: no golden calf would have been made. This would be a completely different story.
Aaron HIMSELF made the golden calf. Imagine his pride when the people bowed down to it. Even though it wasn’t Aaron’s idea to make an image, he did it. Imagine if he had refused to cast it. Then what? Maybe he would have faced stoning but death is better than betrayal.
As if this wasn’t enough, Aaron was the one who made the altar and declared a party. It was his responsibility to lead the people and he failed—miserably. He facilitated the sins of the people. He is most to blame here.
c) Gold that the Egyptians had given the Israelites when they left Egypt.
4a) Anything put above God is an idol so spouse, money, fame, kids, sex, material items, pets, etc. God gives us all of these things (His gifts) and we misuse them when they are more important to us than God.
b) Personal Question. My answer: That everyone is tempted so you are not alone and that God has provided a way out when you are tempted. I will ask God to remind me that He is first and nothing is more important than Him and to show me idols in my life that I may not recognize as such.
5a) First, He called the people “your people”, meaning Moses’s people have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from God’s commands and made an idol to worship. They are stiff-necked.
b) God offered Moses himself to be made into a great nation instead of His people.
c) God brought them up out of Egypt and that the Egyptians would see God as evil and that God had planned to rescue His people only to destroy them. Also, Moses reminded God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel to make them into a great nation with descendants as numerous as the stars in a Promised Land.
d) “The Lord relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had threatened.”
Conclusions: Man, were the people lucky they had Moses to plead for them. God reacted like most of us do when we see a sin or a wrong-doing: with rage and with quick action. Offers me some small comfort for my temper! Only when God was reminded of His promises did He relent. Great example of thinking before reacting!
It was only 40 days and 40 nights Moses was gone (not quite 6 weeks–Exodus 24:18) and the people were so impatient they acted rashly. And Aaron didn’t help! Here’s a guy who first-handed performed miracles with his staff and saw God (Exodus 24:9-10) and yet he doubted. Hard to believe. Yet, we see the power of crowd mentality once again here (see my article on what killed Jesus HERE) in action as I’m sure Aaron had all of Israel pleading to help them and he appeased them. All failed God’s test. Tragic!
End Notes: This calf was probably small (only a few inches high) lifted onto a pedestal for the people to see. It was not huge like depicted in the movies.
Some translations say Moses was “delayed”. This was a test for the people and their faith which we failed. This is a lesson for us: how do we handle God’s delays in our life? Do we fall into sin like the Israelites here or do we grow in our faith and strength in Him?
The not knowing drove the people to act. How many times have we acted in the midst of our fear of the unknown?
Scholars say calf is not the best translation here: it is meant to be a bull in the prime of its life–full of strength and vigor.
Aaron was a follower, not a leader. He was weak.
Aaron still remembered the Lord here (verse 5) but God was not sufficient; they needed an image to worship.
Note how the people rose early to worship the calf. Most people only get up early if they have to–work–or if it’s something important to them. What do you rise early to do? Is it to worship God first thing in the morning or do your BSF homework or read God’s Word? You all know I post these things very early in the morning. It’s important for me to meet God early in my day or I will fall into sin. I also get up early to exercise, write books, read books, and have “me” time. I also have “me and God” time. Consider how you spend your early mornings and ask God how He wants you to spend yours.
Revelry here is sexual revelry.
God is disowning His people by calling them Moses’s people. He wanted to start over with Moses.
“Stiff-necked” was a common phrase in Biblical times that refers to ox that won’t move. It references stubbornness in man.
Moses pleaded with the Lord for mercy, grace, His glory, and His promises and goodness.
God knew He wasn’t going to destroy the people. He was developing Moses and His heart for the people as He does often in us.