Summary of passages: Exodus 32: 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.
Moses went down Mount Sinai with the Tablets in his hands. Joshua had waited for Moses on the mountain a bit away and he thought there was a war going on. Moses said it was singing. Moses was so angry when he saw the sin of the people that he threw the tablets down and they broke. He burned the calf and made the Israelites drink the powder it made. Moses asks Aaron how he let the people sin. Aaron tells Moses the story, but blaming it on how evil the people are and how a calf just “came out”.
Moses was not pleased that Aaron had made the Israelites a laughingstock to the world. Moses asks whomever is for God to come to him. The Levites come. God told the Levites to kill everyone else who is not for the Lord and they killed about 3000 that day. They will now be set apart and blessed for their loyalty to God.
Moses goes up to the Lord again to plead for the people’s forgiveness, saying to blot him out of the book if God does not forgive them. God says He will but when the times comes for punishment (judgment), He will punish them and blot them out of His book. He struck them with the plague as punishment (death of 3000).
Exodus 34:4-7: Moses chiseled out 2 stone tablets and went up to Mount Sinai. The Lord came down from a cloud and proclaimed His name and passed in front of Moses, proclaiming His compassion, love, forgiveness, and judgements.
8a) God at first wants to kill all the people. Moses convinces him not to. He asks for those who will stand for God and all the Levites rallied. Then the Levites killed 3000 people for not turning back to God. Moses again asks for forgiveness, which God grants some but He sends a plague upon the people, killing more. God judges some and spares some.
b) God relented because Moses asked him to. Jesus asked God to spare us and he died for our sins and God did.
c) No. They all deserved death but only some received it. God showed mercy.
9) This is the ultimate show of judgment and mercy. God is in control and He decides who pays the penalty and who is forgiven and who had turned to Him in their hearts. God is great.
Conclusions: We studied Exodus 32 in Lesson 11 last year for one whole week and answered very similar questions on how Moses interceded for the people just like Jesus did/does for us today. Think this is redundant and unnecessary for a study of the “book of Revelation.”
End Notes: Exodus 32: 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.
Joshua is correct: there was a war going on down below–a spiritual war.
It is Moses’s anger that will keep him from the Promised Land (Numbers 20:10-12). It is a problem he has all his life.
Aaron has no idea how great his sin was. He tries to calm Moses down and then lies to Moses about his part. He tries to make it seem as if a miracle produced the calf when it reality it was his hands, his workmanship. Why one would lie to the man closest to God ever is beyond me but Moses doesn’t buy Aaron’s excuse at all.
Even now in sin Aaron is defiant. Little did he know how close to death he was (Deuteronomy 9:20).
Other translations say the people were “unrestrained”. Basically, they had no moral compass and were following whatever made them feel good. Hence, their hearts were hard and they paid the ultimate price.
The Levites were the only group who decided, acted, and separated for God. So we must as well.
Stand for God, or you stand for nothing.
Moses understood the gravity of the people’s sin so asks for forgiveness again, even offering himself as a sacrifice, sensing that an animal’s blood would not suffice. God says no because He knows Jesus is coming. I want such a sacrificial heart. Moses appeals to God’s grace and mercy. Still, God’s punishment is that none of these adults will see the Promised Land.
Exodus 34:4-7: This description of God became the cornerstone for the Jews as the most profound statement of God’s nature.
As Christians, knowing God as Moses knew God–His character–should be our highest striving.
Fun Fact: Exodus 34:6-7 is the most alluded to passage in the Old Testament.