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Exodus 32 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Golden Calf
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’”14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.
- Please read the whole chapter once, then re-read the above passage.
- Moses had been gone a long time. Meanwhile, the people, impatient to get on with their new life of freedom, decided that they wanted to develop their own worship that they could “get something out of”. So they talked Aaron into providing them with worship that satisfied their desire – something that turned out to be pretty much a reflection of the Egyptian world in which they had so recently been oppressed.
- Their golden calf worship nearly destroyed them. And it is the same with us. Refusing to wait for God to speak, we many times fill in His silence with activity. Fund raising, building project, we model worship after patterns that are familiar to us and seem to work for others, patterns that leave out ambiguity and mystery as well as waiting on God and listening for Him. No wonder we feel disillusioned, isolated, inauthentic, and burned out.
Please read Day 14 of “Purpose Driven Life” on When God Seems Distant ( purposedrivenlife2005.blogspot.ca/2005/03/day-14-when-god-seems-distant.html ). Then have a conversation with God: God is real, no matter how you feel, really? How can you stay focused on God’s presence, especially when He seems distant?