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Deuteronomy 9 (ESV)
11 And at the end of forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. 12 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them; they have made themselves a metal image.’
13 “Furthermore, the Lord said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people. 14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’ 15 So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the Lord had commanded you. 17 So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. 18 Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the Lord bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also.
The golden calf that Israel made on the plains of Sinai was the ultimate affront to God. God had delivered his people from slavery; Israel ignored him and chose to worship an idol. God had fed and protected Israel; they decided to praise a creation of their own hands. In the most basic way the golden calf was a total rejection of God.
Moses reminded Israel of the golden calf not to shame them, but to help them realise how great and how gracious God is.
What event in my past makes me most grateful for God’s forgiveness?
O Lord, you are faithful and just, if I confess my sins, you will forgive me all my sins and purify me from all unrighteousness. Thank you for the grace of forgiveness. (IJohn 1:9)