Tag: golden calf
Scripture reading for February 16th: Numbers 17-20
Sin is a malady of the human race that permeates all men. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God! (Romans 3:23) The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Our reading today records the deaths of brother Aaron and sister Miriam. Moses also is told that he, too, will not be allowed to enter the promised land, but must be gathered to his people.
The first to pass from the scene was Miriam, the older sister of Moses. (Numbers 20:1) Miriam was a prophetess who used her tambourine to prophesy and led the Israelite women in a victory celebration after the miracle of God’s deliverance at the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:20-21) Miriam got into trouble when she talked about Moses because of his Cushite wife. She was jealous of her younger brother and evidently wanted to have some of his authority. (Numbers 12:1-3, 9-12) She was struck with leprosy and was put out of the camp for a week, then healed as Moses prayed for her. Miriam was greatly used of God and gifted, but died without entering the promised land.
Aaron and Moses were faced with grumbling yet again because of a lack of water in the Desert of Zin. Moses and Aaron went before the Lord and again fell face-down. (Numbers 20:6-8) God spoke to them and told them to take the staff from the Lord’s presence and speak to the rock and it would gush water for them and their livestock. However, Moses and Aaron obeyed only partially. They did take the staff, but in anger Moses ridiculed his brothers and struck the rock twice with the staff. (Numbers 20: 9-10)
Moses and Aaron were rebuked by the Lord for dishonoring Him before the people. The penalty would be no entry into the promised land. Everyone wanted to be the leader and many tried to take Moses’ place over the years. Now at the end of the journey, Moses is disqualified because of anger and frustration that led to striking the rock twice instead of speaking to it!
In truth, God is merciful! He is teaching His people that the law, represented by Moses, cannot take anyone into the promised land! It is only grace through faith that can take us all the way! Joshua (Jesus) is the one who by faith would lead God’s people into the land to possess it.
Scripture reading for January 30th: Exodus 32-34
We are wired to worship! Worship is something that effects our whole person. We can get emotional, dance, shout, sing, and enjoy ourselves in worship. But worship isn’t supposed to be about us and is not to be focused on us and our pleasure. It is ascribing worth to the object of our worship (God) by us taking a lower place and using our bodies, minds, and souls to express our appreciation, desire for submission, and honor to God . What we worship, we will serve. For example, we cannot worship both God and money!
God had brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to worship Him. He desired to live in the midst of His people and receive their appreciation, submission, and honor. He understood that they needed help to know and trust Him and freely offer their appreciation, submission, and honor to Him. It was on Mt. Sinai that Moses met with God to receive His instructions for the people and then the instructions for the place and manner of worship. God is holy and those who worship Him must be holy and approach God freely, thankfully, and obediently.
While Moses was away with God for forty days, the people got restless. They gathered around Aaron and asked him to make them ‘gods’ to lead them. (Exodus 32:1) Aaron told them to take off their earrings of gold and bring them to him. He took the gold, melted it down, shaped it with a tool into a calf, and presented this to the people as their god. Then he announced a festival to the Lord, with feasting and offerings offered on an altar in front of the calf. The people brought their offerings and then began to party (Exodus 32:5-6).
As we think about this scene, we can see how easy it is to follow our natural inclinations. A ‘god’ must be valuable so the people brought their gold to Aaron. A ‘god’ must be powerful and lead them so Aaron made a golden “calf”. This was probably one of the ‘gods’ of Egypt that represented strength and virility. Their worship started out with an offering but then progressed to eating and drinking and then to pagan revelry which included sexual immorality. The flesh always wants a ‘god’ that allows freedom to indulge! What a person worships, he will serve! (Luke 16:13)
Scripture reading for January 30: Exodus 32-34
In our reading today, the nation of Israel quickly turned away from their commitment to obey God alone. Moses was on the mountain in the cloud and fire for 40 days. He was receiving the tablets with the 10 Words from the Lord. The people came to Aaron, who was left in charge and asked for gods who would lead them. Aaron gave in quickly and asked for gold earrings and ornaments. The people gave freely and soon Aaron had fashioned a golden calf as the god that led the people from Egypt. They made hasty plans for a festival, built an altar and sacrificed. They bowed down to the calf-god made by Aaron. God’s anger and jealousy was aroused!
God spoke to Moses about the idolatry and told him to leave Him alone so He could destroy them. (Exodus 32:8-10) God’s verdict–“They are a stiff-necked people.” Stubborness is as the evil of idolatry and rebellion is as the sin of divination. (1st Samuel 15:23) Sin leads to death! God is jealous! (Exodus 34:14) God had just written the tablets on which he emphasized with two commands the order to have no gods before Him and to make no idols. (Exodus 20:3-6) Moses smashed the tablets in holy anger indicating the breaking of God’s Word by the very people who had sworn to obey! (Exodus 32:19; Exodus 24:3)
Moses, however did pray and intercede with God, asking Him to spare the people. He asked on the basis of God’s reputation and promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses was well aware of the Covenant and God’s promises! These were precious promises that caused these patriarchs to live by faith and walk by faith. God listened but judgment still fell on those who sinned.
Moses called for those on the Lord’s side and the Levites stepped up. They had to strap on swords and execute those who participated in the idolatry, even if it was their brother, friend or neighbor! (Exodus 33:27-2) Three thousand were executed that day. Sin is deadly, particularly idolatry! God is jealous! Israel was His Bride! From her would come His Son, the Messiah!
The lessons for us today are plain. This loving and compassionate God (Exodus 34:6-7) will not tolerate idolatry and sexual immorality. These nearly always occur together because they are closely related. Lying goes with them, too. Note Aaron’s response about just throwing the gold into the fire and an idol coming out! We are all born into idolatry. The “self” or “Big I” is our first and biggest idol! We are stiff-necked because we don’t want to get rid of this idol and truly worship God. The sword represents a slaying of the flesh! The flesh must be crucified! Idolatry is a work of the flesh. (Galatians 6:19-20) The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God brings conviction which can lead us to repent and forsake idolatry! We must walk by the Spirit and allow His fruit to grow in our lives.
Bow your neck today in reverence and prayer to the merciful and compassionate Lord who paid to free us from the sin of idolatry. No more stiff-necks among the people of God! Jesus is interceding for us like Moses of old. Instead of smashing the tablets, He kept them fully for us and shed His blood to cleans us from sin and death! What a Savior!