Peace be with you!
As our scene opens, Moses is on the mountaintop, meeting with God for forty days and forty nights and being given the Law (Exodus 24:18). Meanwhile, the Israelites forget about the Lord quickly and impatiently ask Aaron to make them idols to worship instead (Exodus 32:1c). Only a few chapters before this, the Lord gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, including the prohibition against idols (Exodus 20:4). Aaron does it to honor the Lord (Exodus 32:4-5), but he also creates the golden calf to appease the Israelites. However, the Israelites ask for the idol, because they had not seen Moses in awhile (Exodus 32:1d). On the festival day, the Israelites’ activities get out of hand, such as drinking and having sex, (Exodus 32:6), which further upsets the Lord.
Parents can understand God the Father’s anger. Here’s an example from my childhood: I remember my brother and I waiting in our big Ford van; my mom was supposed to come out and drive us somewhere. Well, she was taking too long, and we starting fighting and wrestling in the van. When she finally did come and saw us fighting, she got really angry, started screaming at us, and grounded us to our rooms. I am pretty sure sending us to our rooms was for our own safety as well as being a punishment.
The Lord is stormy upset with the Israelites. He is ready to go back on his promise to Noah and consume the Israelites (Exodus 32:10). Like my mom, the Lord is beside himself with what to do with his people.
The day of the “van incident,” my mom called our grandparents. “We are not coming over today,” she said. “Those kids are grounded.” I am sure our grandparents had to remind our mom that we were good kids normally.
In the same way, Moses appeals to the Lord on the behalf of the Israelites. Moses knows the Lord is a God who keeps his promises and loves his children. The Lord does not want to kill the Israelites, not after delivering them out of Egypt. Moses reminds the Lord about his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel to give them numerous descendents (Exodus 32:12-13). In a way, Moses reminds the Lord of the fifth commandment to honor your family and sixth commandment not to kill anyone. The Lord has to follow his own commandments to earn the trust, honor, and respect from the Israelites.
The Lord changes his mind; he will not consume the Israelites, but will allow them to live (Exodus 32:14). The Lord does not give up on the Israelites just because they have fallen short of his expectations. The Lord loves the Israelites unconditionally and understands their shortcomings. The Lord wants to keep his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel to make a nation from their descendents.
Our mom did not give up on my brother and me either, even when we would stray away or make her crazy. In this way, she embodied the grace and commitment of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving the Israelites numerous second chances. Help us to embody your grace and commitment in our relationships. Guide us with your trust, honor, and respect to share your love, grace, and peace. Thank you for being in a relationship with us, even when we fall. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Who embodies the grace and commitment of the Lord for you?
- Do you know someone who is far from the Lord today? Intercede for them like Moses did for the Israelites.