Well, here is where it all hits the fan! The people are tired of waiting for Moses to return from the mountain. He has been there for 40 days and nights. They are growing impatient with Moses and God taking their time, and they decide to do something about it. So what do they do? They decide to make their own god! They convince Aaron to make them a god so that they can worship it. Aaron makes them a golden calf and the people begin to worship it!
I have been trying to understand this. I really have been. I try to make it a point to understand the situations that the Israelites are going through. I know that these are people just like you and i. I can usually get some sort of grasp on some of the insane things that the Israelites do and make some sort of sense of it, but this one absolutely takes the cake!
God has done all of these amazing things for and with the people of Israel. He has rescued them from Egypt. He has done miracles and wonders to the Egyptians absolutely destroying their nation. He brought them across the Red Sea. He made water come out of the rock. He even appeared in a cloud to the people and the leaders saw Him. He spoke His 10 commandments out loud to them; the second of which was not to make for themselves a graven image! They even agreed! Yet here they are. Moses has returned to the mountain, and is gone for only 40 days. Now here they are doing one of the most foolish and insane things they could possibly do.
I try to imagine myself in the situation. I try to picture it and try to process what is going on in their minds, and i just don’t get it. I mean, i can kind of get it. When you are in that emotional high and you need a release… you need to release it some how, i can understand needing to be able to worship. But wow! I mean really!?! WOW! I think that that’s all I can say about that situation.
I look at YHWH’s response, and i am in no way surprised that He wants to destroy them all and start over. My real amazement is in Moses response. He sticks up for them and hold’s God’s fury at bay, but he also doesn’t really know what’s going on the time. Once he finds out… it becomes a bloodbath. What is a man of God to do?
I am not a Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew expert. I wish that i was, and someday i may become those, but today is not one of them. The nice thing is though that i have studied under people who are, and i have learned a great deal as a result.
One of the principles that i have learned from and really grasped into my life is a better understanding of this concept of “You shall”: “You shall have no other gods before me.” “You shall not make for yourself an idol…” “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God (YHWH-Elohim) in vain.” When you read those words, “You shall”, what does it mean to you? Chances are, if you are like most people, you see “You shall” as a command. It begins the 10 commandments and it is God telling us that we have to do something. While that is not incorrect, neither is that an accurate understanding.
This is one of those easily misunderstood things that once you have a grasp of it, can change your whole outlook on something. The words “You shall have” here is יהיה (hâyâh). Strong’s concordance says, “…to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass…”. So what does that mean for us? It means that this is not simply a command; it is a promise. This WILL come to pass! It is something that we are to do, but when we pursue and surrender to God, this is also a promise to/for us. So this promise is not just “Don’t have any other god’s before me!” It’s also, “Don’t worry, you won’t have any other gods before me.”
Isn’t that beautiful! It’s not only the 10 commands, but it’s also the 10 promises! That’s what our relationship is like with God. Yes, He gives us commands to follow! Yes, we have rules we have to obey; but as time goes by and we pursue Him, these are things that He promises us will no longer be rules and regulations, they will also be a part of who we are. They go from external instruction to internal drives and motivation. We have a promise! …that this is who we are to become! …and i love it!
There are still many times that i struggle and sin. There are still times that i mess up, screw up, and fail. I have struggled with the concept of repentance, and i need God’s help to get to that place. Part of these big 10 promises is learning to accept and acknowledge that we fail and we sin. Understand, i am not some expert in this. I am just as messed up and flawed in this as so many others. I need to repent of my sins and stand on these promises as who i am in the process of becoming. I need the prayer and help.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.