This is a very sad chapter in one way, but it also shows God’s mercy, patience, kindness, power, and might. It also teaches us several things. There are 4 major points that pop out for us to glean from:
1) Patience in waiting
2) Peer pressure; going along with the crowd
3) Taking responsibility for one’s own actions; not blaming others for our own behavior
4) Intercession; praying to Yahweh on behalf of someone else
Point 1: First, this is a time of waiting on God – to be patient when “things” don’t look or seem as they should be. Yes, a time of waiting; not being able to have or get what is wanted soon. Because of impatience, sin was rampant and ran rapidly throughout the whole community.
Note: Unfortunately, we are no different. They were impatient; couldn’t wait and had to have their own way. We, too, want our way and we want it right now, so we don’t wait.
Lord, God of Israel keep us from judging Your people. Instead open our eyes to see the truth. Speak to each one of us and show us what we need to learn from this example in Your Word. There are different types of people in this chapter. Show us Lord which group do we (each one of us) fit into.
It didn’t take long for the people to forget what God did for them through Moses. God delivered them from Egyptian slavery, bondage, and oppression by using Moses. He parted the Red Sea making a way, where there was no way, leading them to safety. Here they are. The people at this time knew of God, but they didn’t really know God.
Their impatience lead others to sin gravely before Yahweh.
Lord, keep us from being impatient and causing others to sin. Open our eyes to see the value of waiting patiently. Thank You Lord for Your kindness, patience, and forgiveness. Strengthen us against sin, so that we will do what’s right in Your eyes and not sin before You. Thank You Lord. Amen.
Point 2: Peer pressure: vs. 1-6. Notice in verse 1 that not one or two men went to Aaron, but Scripture says, “The people gathered around Aaron.” Just think: being pressured by one person is hard enough and two people is even harder. But how much more difficult it is to avoid peer pressure when you are surrounded by a group of people who are not happy and want their own way. It feels intimidating and overpowering to say the least.
Lord, it’s easy to see the Hebrews’ sin. It’s easy to see the sin in others, but it’s not so easy to see my own sin. Where am I giving into peer pressure when I shouldn’t? Show me, Lord, where I need to change. Lead me into repentance that I may not sin against Thee. Thank you that Your Holy Word: “If we confess our sins He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and lead us in the way everlasting.” 1 John 1:9 Also, Psalm 103:10-12 “As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Lord, You speak a lot about sin and forgiveness throughout the whole Bible. Thank you for Your love, patience with us, and forgiveness. Wash us clean and lead us in the way everlasting. Amen.
Point 3: Blaming others for my own actions; not taking responsibility for what I say or what I do. It’s somebody else’s fault. We hear this all the time. Do we say this? Do we think this? Really, we need to see things as they really are and not make excuses for our behavior. Excuses, excuses, excuses. It’s the blame game. Knowing we’ve done wrong, but not wanting to admit it. Accountability – taking responsibility for my own words and actions and not blaming others.
Look at vs. 21-25. Moses is confronting Aaron saying, “What did you do! You led the people into great sin!” Aaron immediately blames the people. It’s their fault. He takes no responsibility whatsoever for any wrong doing/sin.
In fact, Aaron does the opposite by first blaming the people and then blaming the fire for producing the idol; “it just came out.” Aaron not only collected the gold from the people, had the gold melted down, he then fashioned the gold to become a golden calf idol. If that was not bad enough, Aaron then proceeded to build an altar, where the people began worship, sacrifice, and revelry to this golden statue calling it their god who delivered them from Egypt’s slavery, bondage, and oppression.
Lord, may we be a people, Your people, who do not shirk responsibility. May we be a people who admit our wrong doing and take responsibility for our own actions and not blame others or things for our own behavior. Thank You.
Point 4: Intercession vs. 11-14 & 31-34. Not once, but twice Moses intercedes for the people of God. The first time, God warns Moses about what He is going to do to the people because of their great sin. Moses immediately intercedes for them, not because the people deserve anything, but because of God’s promise – mercy and grace.
God always gives warnings before He is about to punish people for their sins. (We see this throughout the Bible; over and over again.) God gives warnings for a reason. God’s desire is that none should perish, but He gave us freewill. However, when we pray for others we can make a difference in their lives by interceding for them. There is power in praying to the Most High God – Yahweh. He is full of love, grace, and mercy. Who do you think put the desire to pray for others on your heart? Was it not God?
Note: God always answers prayers with either a yes, no, or wait. God always hears; God is always listening whether we realize it or not.
When Moses actually sees the sins of the people, he is appalled and first confronts Aaron. Next, Moses confronts the people by giving them a choice. Either they chose the Lord and serve Him alone, or not. But they had to choose. They could not worship both. The choice was theirs to make. Once the choice had been made, Moses then went back to God and pleaded for their forgiveness of sin. Moses pleaded for God’s mercy and God granted it.
Sin should never be taken lightly. There are consequences. Sin is a serious matter. Why do you think Jesus died on the cross and became our atoning Sacrifice? As Scripture says in Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Thank You Lord!
Lord, like Moses, may we intercede on the behalf of other people when they need it. And may we be selfless and concerned only with following and pleasing You.
To conclude, there are 4 major points
1) Patience in waiting – impatience bring disaster
2) Peer pressure; going along with the crowd brings disaster
3) Taking responsibility for one’s own actions; not blaming others for our own behavior is the right thing to do; all else is sin
4) Intercession; praying to Yahweh on behalf of someone else will make a difference and can save lives