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Exodus 32:5-33:6, false worship

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Oct 2, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen <img src =/Helen2.gif>

    Aug 29, 2001
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    And so Aaron made and shaped the calf, or bull, for the Israelites, and he also built an altar in front of it!

    Then he says, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord."

    Rather odd, to my way of thinking, to think he could combine the two!

    We then read that the next day the people sacrificed burnt and fellowship offerings. Presumably to God and not to the bull, but that is not explicitly stated! What did they do then? Have an orgy! That is the actual meaning of what the NIV translates at "indulge in revelry" and the KJV puts delicately as "rose up to play." But the phrase in the Hebrew has definite sexual connotations.

    The Lord, of course, knew what had happened and informs Moses that the people he brought out of Egypt had now become corrupt. The Lord is furious and tells Moses He desires to annihilate the Israelites completely and build a new nation from Moses' line.

    What happens then is very interesting. Moses 'reminds' God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and "God relents."

    Remember Moses wrote this book. To him, God changed His mind. But did God really EVER change His mind? Not at all. It was vitally important for Moses himself to remember God's promises, because Moses was going to have to deal with this 'stiff-necked people' now! Nevertheless, the Lord has also made Moses aware of His tremendous displeasure as well as of what actual justice would require.

    And so Moses goes down the mountain with the tablets God Himself had inscribed. We see Joshua has been with Moses the entire time for it is Joshua who notices the noise coming from the camp. Moses identifies it as the sound of singing.

    When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.

    These people, when Moses had gone up the mountain, were the same people who partook in the covenant meal declaring they would do all the Lord God required of them.

    The broken tablets; the broken covenant.

    The covenant had been a blood covenant. All of these adults, except Joshua and Caleb, his brother, would die in the wilderness.

    Moses burns the calf (which causes some commentators to think it may have been a wooden calf overlaid with gold), grinds the residue to powder, scatters the powder in the water, and makes the people drink it. They will taste their own judgment. The water is just the promise of that.

    Now, back to Adam and Eve....sort of. It's excuse-making time. Moses asks Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?"

    Aaron blames the evil of the people. He says nothing about his responsibility as their leader. He also states that he 'threw' the gold into the fire and "out came this calf"!


    Moses, seeing it is all out of control and "the people were running wild" calls for those who want to follow the Lord. The Levites -- members of the tribe of Levi -- immediately respond and go to Moses.

    What part did they have with the calf? We are not told. Maybe they stood aside. Maybe they warned against it. Maybe they participated. It is important that we don't know, for when we make that decision to belong to the Lord, everything we have ever done before is gone. And so the Levites, in responding to Moses, end up with no mention at all of their earlier actions, good or bad.

    In Exodus 22:20, God had instructed, "Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed."

    The covenant had been a blood covenant.

    And so Moses instructs the Levites to now "Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor."

    They were not to kill strangers, Israelites they didn't know. They were to kill the people they DID know, probably those they knew had participated in the sacrifices to the calf.

    About 3000 people were killed that day.

    Then Moses said, 'You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.'

    The Levites would be the hereditary caretakers of the Tabernacle and aids to the priests. They chose the Lord and the Lord would be their portion.

    What happens next puts Moses in the picture as a type of Christ again. By 'type' it is not meant that he was in part Christ. It means he was used by God as a picture of what Christ would be and do when He came.

    Moses offers to intercede for the Israelites. He begs for the Lord to forgive the sin of the Israelites in the idolatry (and orgy), "but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.

    That last is a remarkable statement, for it indicates that the Book of Life was known by the ancients.

    God replies with something that is often overlooked:

    KJV: Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

    NIV: Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.

    This means one of two things, logically:

    1. You can lose your salvation.


    2. All are originally written in the Book of Life and deliberate sin is what erases their names.

    The erasure of names is referred to as spiritual death. Thus we have an indication here that all people are born spiritually alive, or not disconnected from God. Paul also indicates the same in Romans 7:7-11, when, even though all men sin and come short of the glory of God, Paul nevertheless says in verses 8b-9, "For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died."

    This distinction between having a sin nature and wilfilly sinning is going to be very important where the Israelites are concerned in the coming books and chapters.

    The Lord then orders Moses to take the people away from there; when the time comes, they will be punished.

    Part of the punishment shows up immediately -- And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

    What kind of plague? Was there a physical cause connected with drinking the water that had the powdered remains of the golden calf in it? A number of commentators connect the two. I have a hard time with that because when something is burned, it is sterile. Sterile ashes in the water are not known to make people sick.

    Nor does the word used mean, primarily, a sickness. Here, the KJV gives the more accurate meaning when it translates the phrase, "and the Lord plagued the people..."

    The word translated 'plague' in many instances in both versions actually comes from the word meaning to destroy or defeat by coming violently near or striking.

    It may not have been a sickness, then. The people had been camping at the foot of what may have been an active volcano. Did they lose a portion of the population not to sickness, but to a volcanic eruption or flow? Again, read Psalm 18, in particular verses 7-12, and see if this might be a possibility.

    Chapter 33 opens with a repeat command from the Lord to leave that place at to foot of the mountain.

    But now the Lord says He will not be going with them as they go to the Promised Land, "because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way."

    The Lord has said He will withdraw His presence. The people mourn. The Lord tells them to take off their ornaments, and they do. The Lord tells them He will decide what to do with them. So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

    All those riches they got from the Egyptians. All that had been miraculously provided for them they now had to strip off because of their sin.

    Maybe salvation cannot be lost, but blessings and provisions and even rewards can.

    [ October 02, 2002, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: Helen ]
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer Active Member
    Site Supporter

    Oct 10, 2001
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