Exodus 32 : The Calf

March 1, 2024 ·

While Moses was on the mountain, the people, led by Aaron, constructed a golden calf, worshipped it, and celebrated with a festival. Concurrently, God informed Moses of the situation and Moses persuaded God to spare them from destruction for their sin.

Upon descending the mountain and witnessing the revelry, Moses shattered the tablets, incinerated the calf, and dispersed its ashes into the Israelites’ drinking water. Moses then called for those who were loyal to God to join him; only the Levites responded. Moses commanded the Levites to execute the idolaters, resulting in about three thousand deaths. God vowed to punish the sinners and subsequently inflicted a plague upon the people.

Key verse:
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! 

My thoughts:
This is a messy chapter. There’s sin, death, plague, lying and threats. The Israelites screwed up royal, and practically fall into civil war so soon after God had performed great miracles for them. The only reason God didn’t just kill them all, is because then the Egyptians would have bragging rights over God, because he sent his people into the desert to die. 

Sometimes it’s hard to understand God commanding the death of masses of people, but it happens a lot in Israel’s early years of conquering Canaan. It’s a difficult issue to wrestle with, but I guess that it was such a vital part of God’s plan, that any imperfection had to be physically removed at this stage of God’s plan. Ultimately God is God, and he reserves the right to kill people, when he sees it fit (even in the New Testament – see Acts 5).

In category:Exodus
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