The Golden Calf & Consequences

When reading the following passage, it is difficult to put myself in the shoes of the Israelites of the time. 

“Hey, Moses has been gone longer than expected. Let’s make ourselves a god and worship it.”

That doesn’t really sound like a good idea to me when the God of Abraham and Moses has just freed them from opression with signs and wonders. Let alone that Aaron would agree to this plan and mold the calf himself. I realize that they just came out of a pagan culture that worshipped golden idols. It’s still hard to understand the thought process here.

Also, the consequences were much more severe than I had remembered. Around 3,000 in the camp were slain by the sons of Levi. Moses had the people drink the gold in water. Also, the people ended up being plagued. It seems like a foreshadowing that those who follow Christ end up dividing some families and friends.

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for 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.” And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the  gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.  They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ ” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: “ Lord , why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. So the Lord  relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people. And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written. Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets. So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.  And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” Now when Moses saw that the people were  unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord ’s side— come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord , that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Now therefore, go, lead the people to the  place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.” So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made. Exodus 32:1‭-‬4‭, ‬7‭-‬12‭, ‬14‭-‬16‭, ‬19‭-‬21‭, ‬25‭-‬29‭, ‬33‭-‬35 NKJV

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Manna from Heaven

Exodus 16 has so many interesting parts to it. The children of Israel moaned that the Lord had brought them out of captivity because, at least in Egypt, they had pots of meat and bread given to them.

The Lord hears their complaint and provides bread in the morning and meat at night. The message was delivered by Aaron to the congregation, even though the Lord would speak directly to Moses.  The meat was quails that would come up to the camp at night. The bread was called manna, and would be on the ground when the morning dew would lift. It was fine as frost (makes me think it looked a little like snow).

The Lord required the Irealites to follow the Sabbath day and would not provide food on the Sabbath. On the sixth day, they would receive enough food to last through the Sabbath. The manna was like white corriander seeds and it tasted like wafers made with honey. The Lord asked Moses to keep a small portion of the manna to show future generations what He had done for them.

And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, “At evening you shall know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord ; for He hears your complaints against the Lord . But what are we, that you complain against us?” Also Moses said, “ This  shall  be  seen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord .” Then Moses spoke to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord , for He has heard your complaints.’ ” Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord  appeared in the cloud. “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ ” So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according  to  the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.’ ” Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need. And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.” Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted. And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, “This is  what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is  a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord . Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ ” So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord ; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.” Now it happened that  some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day. And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Then Moses said, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Fill an omer with it, to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ ” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and lay it up before the Lord , to be kept for your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. Now an omer is one-tenth of an ephah.
Exodus 16:1-10, 12-36 NKJV

Pharoah: I Have Sinned

The Lord had brought six different plagues on Pharoah and his people through Moses and Aaron.  The Lord asks Moses to tell Pharoah the following:

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go. Exodus 9:16-17 NKJV

The Lord says that He has a purpose for Pharoah. He has raised him to power that the Lord may show the world His power. Since Pharoah is against the Lord’s people, He brings a seventh plague: hail, such that Egypt has never seen before. Any man who did not fear the Lord did not seek shelter. Any animal, man, or herb that was outside was destroyed.

Now, Pharoah calls for Moses and Aaron and tells them the following:

And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. The Lord  is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the Lord , that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it  is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” Exodus 9:27-28 NKJV

Interestingly, Moses says that he knows Moses and his people will not yet fear the Lord, but he stops the hail from coming to show them that the world belongs to the Lord.

And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the Lord had spoken by Moses. Exodus 9:34-35 NKJV

Let My People Go

One of the most popular phrases from the Bible is, “Let My people go.” Being depicted now in a major motion picture, the account of Moses and the Exodus is one of the most fascinating accounts in the scriptures. Moses and Aaron tell Pharoah to let God’s people go. God wants his people to be free and to hold a feast unto Him.

Pharoah says:

And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord , that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord , neither will I let Israel go. Exodus 5:2 KJV

The Lord was seeking rest for His people and Pharoah knew it. Moses and Aaron were worried about what the Lord would do if they did not obey God in his request to hold a feast unto Him. The Hebrews had their God, the God of the universe.

Pharoah does not recognize the God of the Hebrews and is upset that they are requesting rest from their work. He does the opposite in defiance. Pharoah gives the Hebrews more work and takes away provisions to make the work more difficult.

The Hebrews are puzzled and ask Pharoah why he is dealing with them in this way. Once they realize it was Moses and Aaron who asked Pharoah to let the have a feast unto the Lord, what was their respons?

And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. Exodus 5:2, 21 KJV

They blamed Moses and Aaron. Moses returns to the Lord to ask Him for guidance. The Lord responds with a beautiful and amazing response to His people:

Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord : And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord , and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord . Exodus 6:1-8 KJV