Moses received detailed and explicit direction from God Himself on what the people were to do. God even wrote on the tablets with His own finger.
There are certain things like the incense and perfume that God gave them direction about making. These recipes were only to be used for Him. God said anyone who made those recipes for themselves would be killed. God had certain things that were reserved for Him only.
God also made a huge deal out of the Sabbath. It was to be kept by everyone and no one was to work on that day. If they did, they were to be killed. God wanted them to remember it was He who had done all of this for them. They were to set aside this day weekly to remember Him.
God wants to have a special place in my life. There are certain things I need to do to honor Him and to worship Him. Setting aside time, even practicing times of stillness, are ways to honor the Lord and remember Him. Even though I am not bound by the Law, I can dedicate items or adopt practices that will be significant in pointing others to Him.
In Exodus 32, Moses has been gone for some time now and the people become restless. They have stopped worshipping God and given up on Moses’ return. This goes to show that we are created for worship. They begin looking for something to worship. We all worship someone or something.
Unfortunately Aaron complies and tells them to gather the gold and creates a calf for them to worship, even telling the people that it’s the god that brought them up from Egypt. Really Aaron??
This goes to show that even as a leader of the people and having seen all that God had done, Aaron was more of a people pleaser than a God-pleaser. He was more concerned with popular opinion than God’s name and fame. As a leader, I cannot fall into this trap of simply trying to keep people happy or just giving them their own version of God. I have to remain true to the God of the scripture and present Him correctly to the people.
This passage also shows us the compassion and intercession of Moses. Moses pleads for the people before God. It is vitally important that I pray for the people God has given in my charge. Interceding on the behalf of others is part of the role of the leader. It is because of Moses’ prayers that God relents of what He was going to do and that was wipe everyone out and restart with Moses!
When Moses descends the mountain and sees all that is happening, he has righteous anger and immediately confronts Aaron and the people. Aaron’s response is ridiculous. He says that he got the gold from the people, threw it in the fire and the calf just appeared!
Aaron wasn’t willing to take much responsibility for what was happening. Some of the amazing part of this story is that God still used Aaron later! Talk about grace!
Moses gathers the Levites, those who were still set apart into God and they kill the people who were part of this false worship party.
As the chapter ends, Moses goes back to God and asks for them to be forgiven and he even offers to die with/ for them. But God rejects this saying each person is responsible for their own sin. Moses could never atone for their sin but this does foreshadow Jesus coming to do that for us.
God sent a plague to judge all those who were part of worshipping the calf.