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 split this chapter at the end of verse 27 due to the length of chapter overall. Thus the first verse in today’s work was 28; “Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD (YHWH) had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.” (NASB) Opening this section with this verse really struck me. If there is one thing that i have learned about the Hebrew people through most of the old testament, it’s that they didn’t like doing what they were told. They tended to be very stubborn people who took a whole lot of convincing to get them to follow simple instructions sometimes. Even when they did follow directions, many times it also involved grumbling and complaining. This was especially true of this particular generation. Once they go out into the wilderness, Moses has all kinds of problems with them. So much so that, apart from two people, none of them is allowed to actually enter the promised land.
Yet here we see a simple statement of profound importance. “Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD (YHWH) had commanded…” This and similar statements are made three times in this second half of Exodus 12 (vs. 28, 35, & 50). Why is simple obedience such a difficult thing to do? I know that the Hebrew people are not the only ones that have that difficulty. Pharaoh had the same problem… and so do I. I know that it would be better to do things God’s way. I know that it would make my life better and easier. I know that i can trust Him even when i don’t understand. Yet time and time again the choice i make is the wrong one. Then, i have the gall to get upset when things don’t go the way i expect them to. I just don’t get it sometimes.
This section is where the exodus of the Hebrew people really begins. The final miracle occurs; the firstborn of everyone from Pharaoh’s household to the prisoners in the dungeon lost their lives. Pharaoh and the people of Egypt “urged” the Israelites to leave. So exactly 430 years to the day after Israel and his family came to Egypt, the LORD (YHWH) brings them out again.
Every time i read this i see the parallels throughout history; Pharaoh has the Israelite babies killed because the Israelites are becoming too numerous and they might hinder his prosperity. When the people of Israel entered the promised land and did not remove all of the inhabitants the worship of Molech continued. As a result, the Israelites began sacrificing their firstborn child to Molech so that they would be blessed with prosperity. King Herod had all of the newborns from the town of Bethlehem killed because one of them was to be a king which would affect him and his prosperity. Today it is acceptable for people the world over to kill off our own baby if it’s life is going to be an inconvenience to its mother. …if it’s life might hinder the mother’s chance for “prosperity”.
There are other instances of this in history as well. It really makes me wonder; are we fighting new battles, or are they the same old battles with the same old enemy just expressed in a new way? Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
When we are fighting for the lives of our children, who is the battle really against? Is it against those people who would take the lives of our children for a profit? Is it against those who would choose to end their child’s lives because their child is an inconvenience to their own life? Or is the battle much more than that? Are we battling against flesh and blood, or are we battling against spiritual forces that have been waging this war for millennia? Is this a war about “choice” or is it much deeper than that? If it is a deeper level battle, then what?