Exodus Chapter Thirty Two


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In our study of Exodus chapter thirty two, we look at the causes and effects of idolatry as well as the spiritual law of accountability.

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In our study of Exodus chapter thirty one, we see that the instruction of God will bring blessing into our lives.

Now, if God speaks to you in this study, you can save your own personal notes on this page. Then, every time that you look at this study, your notes will automatically be added to the page. To add a note or to display your previous notes, click on the YOUR NOTES button.

Exodus 32:1

When the people saw that Moshe was taking a long time to come down from the mountain, they gathered around Aharon and said to him, "Get busy; and make us gods to go ahead of us; because this Moshe, the man that brought us up from the land of Egypt - we don't know what has become of him."

Here, we see the start of a very big problem and it all begins with seeing and our earthly perception. From the people's perspective, Moshe was spending too much time on the mountain so they united in rebellion and told Aharon to make them gods. We are reminded that, at this time, there is still fire and noise on the mountain so they could have known that God was still at work but it wasn't being done fast enough for them.

Exodus 32:2-4

Aharon said to them, "Have your wives, sons and daughters strip off their gold earrings; and bring them to me." The people stripped off their gold earrings and brought them to Aharon. He received what they gave him, melted it down, and made it into the shape of a calf. They said, "Isra'el! Here is your god, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!"

To me, the answer that Aharon gave is mind-blowing as he could have told the people that what they were doing is idolatry and that he wanted no part of it but instead he told them to take off their gold jewelry and bring it to him. This is a reminder that the focus of idolatry is often money. Then, Aharon made a mold, melted down the gold and poured it into the mold to create a golden calf. Finally, we see that the people were united in rebellion and were willing to deny the truth of what they had saw the Lord do in bringing them out of Egypt.

Exodus 32:5 & 6

On seeing this, Aharon built an altar in front of it and proclaimed, "Tomorrow is to be a feast for ADONAI." Early the next morning they got up and offered burnt offerings and presented peace offerings. Afterwards, the people sat down to eat and drink; then they got up to indulge in revelry.

Aharon even built an altar and proclaimed a feast in the name of Adonai for the golden calf and we see this often today where the sacred name of God is used to make idolatry sound good. We see that the people rose early the next morning which shows how eager they were to get into idolatry and they offered sacrifices to what they had made. They ate and drank which speaks of fellowship and then they got up to play and they were having a good time.

Exodus 32:7-10

ADONAI said to Moshe, "Go down! Hurry! Your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have become corrupt! So quickly they have turned aside from the way I ordered them to follow! They have cast a metal statue of a calf, worshipped it, sacrificed to it and said, 'Isra'el! Here is your god, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!'" ADONAI continued speaking to Moshe: "I have been watching these people; and you can see how stiffnecked they are. Now leave me alone, so that my anger can blaze against them, and I can put an end to them! I will make a great nation out of you instead."

God explained to Moshe what the people were doing and we notice that God calls them your people referring to Moshe being their leader. Then, God says that He is going to destroy them and make Moshe into a great nation and that is the same thing that was told to Avraham as a part of the covenant. Surely, that would have been tempting to Moshe to be elevated to the place of Avraham in the faith.

Exodus 32:11-13

Moshe pleaded with ADONAI his God. He said, "ADONAI, why must your anger blaze against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand? Why let the Egyptians say, 'It was with evil intentions that he led them out, to slaughter them in the hills and wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger! Relent! Don't bring such disaster on your people! Remember Avraham, Yitz'chak and Isra'el, your servants, to whom you swore by your very self. You promised them, 'I will make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky; and I will give all this land I have spoken about to your descendants; and they will possess it forever.'"

In the Hebrew text, the word that is translated here as pleaded as speaks of Moshe becoming sick or not liking the suggestion that God had made. We see that Moshe answers the temptation with faith and the truth as he speaks of the patriarchs and the covenant made with Avraham.

Exodus 32:14

ADONAI then changed his mind about the disaster he had planned for his people.

We see that God was comforted with faith and truth presented by Moshe and did not bring the disaster upon the people.

Exodus 32:15-18

Moshe turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets inscribed on both sides, on the front and on the back. The tablets were the work of God; and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. When Y'hoshua heard the noise of the people shouting he said to Moshe, "It sounds like war in the camp!" He answered, "That is neither the clamor of victory nor the wailings of defeat; what I hear is the sound of people singing."

Moshe took the tablets containing the commandments and went down the mountain where he first met Y'hoshua. They heard noise coming from the camp and Y'hoshua said it sounded like war and this leads us to a biblical truth which is the fact that idolatry is an invitation to the demonic. There are only two options for us; we are either in the will of God or we are against the will of God which is evil and demonic. Moshe's answer was that the voices were not associated with power or weakness as in a physical war but they were voices of idolatry meaning there was a spiritual war going on that the people were losing.

Exodus 32:19 & 20

But the moment Moshe got near the camp, when he saw the calf and the dancing, his own anger blazed up. He threw down the tablets he had been holding and shattered them at the base of the mountain. Seizing the calf they had made, he melted it in the fire and ground it to powder, which he scattered on the water. Then he made the people of Isra'el drink it.

When Moshe saw what was happening in the camp as they were celebrating in their idolatry, he became angry and threw down the tablets braking them on the ground. Then, we see that he took the calf, burned it, ground it to powder, put it in water and made the people drink it. This speaks of the fact that there are earthly consequences to sin even to this day. Although our sins have been dealt with spiritually and we are saved, there are still consequences on this earth when we go against the will of God.

Exodus 32:21-24

Moshe said to Aharon, "What did these people do to you to make you lead them into such a terrible sin?" Aharon replied, "My lord shouldn't be so angry. You know what these people are like, that they are determined to do evil. So they said to me, 'Make us gods to go ahead of us; because this Moshe, the man that brought us up from the land of Egypt - we don't know what has become of him.' I answered them, 'Anyone with gold, strip it off!' So they gave it to me. I threw it in the fire, and out came this calf!"

Moshe confronted Aharon because he was in charge while Moshe was up on the mountain and, although Aharon tries to blame the people, Moshe makes it clear that with a leadership position comes responsibility. Then, we see lies as the people had lied to Aharon when they said that they did not know what had become of Moshe and we see Aharon lie to Moshe as he describes how the golden calf was made.

Exodus 32:25-28

When Moshe saw that the people had gotten out of control - because Aharon had allowed them to get out of control, to the derision of their enemies - Moshe stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, "Whoever is for ADONAI, come to me!" All the descendants of Levi rallied around him. He told them, "Here is what ADONAI, the God of Isra'el, says: 'Each of you, put his sword on his side; and go up and down the camp, from gate to gate; and every man is to kill his own kinsman, his own friend and his own neighbor!" The sons of Levi did what Moshe said, and that day three thousand of the people died.

Moshe stood at the entrance to the camp and issues a call for repentance and many people including all of the Levites answered the call. This was an affirmation of God's choice for the tribe to be His servants. They were instructed to go throughout Israel and deposit judgement on those that were still in rebellion. On that day, three thousand Israelites were killed.

Exodus 32:29

Moshe said, "You have consecrated yourselves today to ADONAI, because every one of you has been against his own son and against his own kinsman, in order to bring a blessing on yourselves today."

Moshe explained to the Levites that, because they had acted upon the authority that was given to them by God and had brought judgemnt on the people, blessing had come to those who had survived.

Exodus 32:30-33

The next day Moshe said to the people, "You have committed a terrible sin. Now I will go up to ADONAI ; maybe I will be able to atone for your sin." Moshe went back to ADONAI and said, "Please! These people have committed a terrible sin: they have made themselves a god out of gold. Now, if you will just forgive their sin! But if you won't, then, I beg you, blot me out of your book which you have written!" ADONAI answered Moshe, "Those who have sinned against me are the ones I will blot out of my book.

Moshe went to petition God on behalf of the people that survived and he asked God to lift up (remove) the sin from the people and he went on to identify himself with the people. When Moshe asked that his name be blotted out, he was taking responsibility for his leadership role. God's answer reveals a spiritual law in that He says that the ones that sin will be blotted out and, in reality, that means everyone as all of humanity has sinned against God at some point in time.

Exodus 32:34 & 35

Now go and lead the people to the place I told you about; my angel will go ahead of you. Nevertheless, the time for punishment will come; and then I will punish them for their sin." ADONAI struck the people with a plague because they had made the calf, the one Aharon made.

God revealed that a malach (messenger) would lead them to the place that He had revealed and this malach speaks of Messiah. God went on to reveal that a time would come when He would deposit judgement on those that had sinned and this speaks to what we would call settling accounts.

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