Everything has finally settled down. The masses have found a semblance of peace and are ready to handle themselves while Moses goes up the mountain again. God calls Moses, and he responds. He returns to Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights again where he brings two new stone tablets for the LORD to write on.
This is the same type of incident as before, but things have changed. There are definitely some key and significant differences. One of the beautiful things that happens here is that Moses relationship and connection with YHWH appear to have made some definite improvements. He is there for the same role and the same purpose as he was before, but Moses seems to have more responsibility as well as more depth in relationship with YHWH. The connection is much more direct and face to face. So much so that when Moses comes down this time, his face is shining so brightly that the people can’t even look at him. Their response is to fear him, and it is only after covering his face with a veil that he is able to come before the people. This covering of God’s glory, outpouring through Moses, continues each time he meets with YHWH. The veil becomes a constant reminder of Moses connection and response to God.
During this time on the mountain, YHWH decides to make note of the people’s tendency towards idolatry, He makes it clear to them that they are to destroy ALL evidence of the nations that exist in the land of Canaan, and to tear down anything that represents their false gods. This is more than just a command. This is a mandate. This is the direction that the people must take, even though God already knows that they are not going to. It is a notice that must be made and a direction that must be followed.
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?
If things weren’t deep and passionate before, there is a whole lot of that going on now! The plagues keep getting more and more intense and powerful, and Pharaoh’s frustration and anger are getting worse and worse.
Pharaoh is doing everything he can to attempt to delay or stop the inevitable, but he just can’t stop YHWH. I kind of feel bad for the guy. But at the same time, i know why this is happening, and his involvement / responsibility in it. It’s kind of like working with troubled youth. Sometimes the only way they learn is to allow them to learn and understand the consequences of their actions. Explaining it to them, processing it with them and protecting them from it can only get you so far. Sometimes you just need to let them see, and until they see they will not understand.
You can see Pharaoh’s will / resolve start to soften in this chapter, but Pharaoh is not a man to change easily or lightly. Nor is he a man likely to accept defeat. God continues to harden an already hard heart. Pharaoh continues to attempt to compromise with God, but the cost of that compromise is much higher than the cost of the original price.
How do you help a man who is so insistent that he wins, that he is willing to destroy himself and everything around him in order to do so? How do you open the eyes of a man so blinded by his own pride and rebellion that he thinks he can stand against God? What drives a man to become what you see before you? Yes, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and yes, God had every right to do that! But the truth is, He didn’t need to. Pharaoh was so intent on doing it to himself that he did not need any real help from God.
How do help a man like that?