Exodus Devotional | Fall and Forgiveness, Day 1: When We Want a New God
The Book of Exodus
The Greatness of God to His People in Need
Fall and Forgiveness, Day 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.” 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.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 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!” 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.” 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.” - (Exodus 32:1-6)
Well, well, well...here we are. Again.
Looks like the Lord is taking his sweet time. Sure, he’s been faithful and good. We know that. We have what we need. But, we want to know what’s next! Moses sure is taking a long time, up there on the mountain with the Lord. It’s been days. Weeks, even. When are we allowed to get on the move again?
We Israelites have been in lockdown, here at the foot of Mount Sinai for weeks and weeks now. When can we leave here? When can we go back to normal? We’d like to get on the move and head toward the Promised Land. But, Moses said that the Lord’s going to take his time with us. How much time is that, though? We’re losing momentum and we’re worried about the economy--will we have enough food and water to last us for the next leg of our journey? Some people are already talking about striking camp and heading out. They’re talking about risking it without God.
Man, is Exodus a timely book of the Bible for us! This week is a really infuriating story of the cyclical rise and fall of God’s people: we fall on our own and God keeps raising us back up. God is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and we’re quick to forget and test his love.
The people have cornered one of their leaders, Aaron (Moses’ brother), and pressured him. Looks like he didn’t stand up to the sinful demands of the people. Instead of leading them in faithfulness, as he has done at Moses’ side for so long, he gives in. The people want a new god--one like they used to see the Egyptians worshipping. So, it’s Aaron’s idea to make a golden calf out of the wealth they’d taken from Egypt.
What’s the worst thing they do? They say, “This is our god, now! This is the one who saved us from Egypt!” They give credit for what the Lord has done to this golden statue they made. What a heartbreaking and infuriating insult. What an act of treason to the God who has been nothing but faithful, powerful, gracious, and loving.
That’s it. That’s the devotional for today. It’s time to do our work of meditating. Time to put ourselves in the place of the Israelites here. God’s going to show his anger and he’s going to show his forgiveness, but that won’t matter to us much unless we feel the weight of what’s been done...of what we’ve done in our own lives.
How have you mistrusted God’s timing, seeking to rush in and take over? How have you made other things (money, a spouse, a kid, a career, a possession) your own golden calf--something that will save you, since you don’t seem to see God doing anything?
What do you think the Israelites could have done during this time, waiting on Moses? They couldn’t set foot on the mountain to check on him. They knew they shouldn’t leave and they definitely knew they shouldn’t have done this. What should they have done? What ought you to do in these times?