Exodus 32:1-6 The children of Israel were concerned that Moses would not return. They forced Aaron to make them a new god to lead them to the Promised Land. Aaron listened to them and had them gather all the gold from the ears, fashioned the gold with a graving tool and made a golden calf out of it. They proclaimed the new god to the people and when Aaron saw the result of what he had done, built an altar before the golden calf. He proclaimed the next day to be a feast to the Lord. The next day they offered burnt and peace offerings, drank and rose up to play (drunken and immoral activities).
Notes: The pagan world view had robbed them of seeing God as having led them out of Egypt and instead they scornfully attributed the exodus to Moses.
The young bull, which Aaron caused to be fashioned, was a pagan religious symbol of virile power. In worshiping the calf, the Israelites violated the first three commandments.
The combining of different beliefs brought about the ludicrous combination of an idol, an altar, and a festal celebration held in a bizarre attempt to honor the true God.
Exodus 32:7-10 God told Moses to return to the rebellious people for He was full aware of what they had done. The Lord states that He knows the people are stiff-necked and tells Moses to stand back while He destroys them all and instead will start over with Moses’ offspring as He first did with Abraham.
Notes: Notice that God says to Moses, “Your people”. Beforehand God had acknowledged them as “my people.”, and Moses set out to remind God of that fact.
Side: We say this same thing today. If the children are behaving well, we say to our spouse, “Look what MY son or daughter did”. If they are behaving poorly, we say, “Look what YOUR son or daughter did!” This goes to show how unpleased God was with His children. He basically was renouncing them as His own and attributing them Moses.
Exodus 32:11-14 Moses intercedes for the people and begs God to reconsider His judgment against the people. Moses reminds God of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that He swore (BY HIMSELF) that he would give this offspring the Promise Land. The Lord listened to Moses and relented.
Notes: A divine intention is not an unchangeable divine decree. Intentions retain a conditional element and do not necessarily bind the speaker to a stated course of action. Moses willing to act as a mediator and replacement appeased the Lord and so He relented.
Thank you, Jesus for appeasing the Father because of our sins!
Exodus 32:15-20 Moses met Joshua halfway down the mountain and told Moses he believed there was a war going on from all the noise the children of Israel were making. Moses said it was the sound of singing and carousing. Moses when he arrived at the scene was hot with anger, so he threw the tablets of stone (10 commandments) to the foot of the mountain and they broke. He burned the calf with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water in which he made the people drink of it.
Notes: Moses breaking the commandments of stone symbolizes the children of Israel breaking the actual commandments themselves.
Exodus 32:21-24 Moses was speechless as to why his brother Aaron would do such a thing. Aaron confessed that he was a coward and afraid of what the people would do to him if he did not listen to them. Aaron lied by saying that he simply cast the gold in the fire, and PRESTO, a golden calf came out. Aaron also shifted the blame to the people by saying in essence, “They made me do it!”
Exodus 32:25-29 Moses asked the people to come to his side that rejected the golden calf and trusted the Lord. Only the sons of Levi gathered around him (His own kin or tribe). Moses instructed the Levites to take their swords and kill all the guilty. Three thousand men died that day. Moses said that because the Levites took the Lord’s side, their tribe would be ordained with the priesthood and God would bless them for their stand.
Exodus 32:30-35 The next day Moses told the people that he now had to return to the Lord on the mountain and atone somehow for the sin they committed. Moses confessed (As a mediator between God and man) the sins of the people. He pleaded with the Lord to forgive them (As Jesus does for us), and if not, to blot Moses’ life out of the book instead (Which is exactly what Jesus did – Offered up His life in our place). God told Moses that only those that sinned against Him will be blotted out of His book. God told Moses to continue the plan He showed Moses on the mountain and to lead the people on, guided by His angel. The Lord promises that he will visit their sin upon them when the time came. The Lord eventually sent a plague on those who were still alive and guilty of worshipping the golden calf.
Notes: Moses loved the people so much, he was willing to offer his life in their place rather than see them disinherited and destroyed. But because Moses is not Jesus, God must punish the sins, for Moses isn’t qualified to take their sins away.