Golden Calf Incident at Mount Sinai
This story pops out of what has been (in Exodus) an instructional account of how to make the tabernacle and how the Israelites are to live and act in this new land they are heading to. Ever since the declaration of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, this exposition has been going on. The reader of this text would thus be “awakened” (so to speak) to this narrative story that jumps off the page here in Exodus 32.
The text tells us that:
“the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him’” (Exodus 32:1).
This would become a sort of benchmark for how the people of Israel would behave from here on in their history. They were a very forgetful people; a very impatient people; a very stiff-necked, stubborn, and rebellious people. The Israelites decided that they wanted to make their own gods to worship. It is easy for us many, many years later reading this account to realize the futility of their behavior, but we weren’t there feeling what they felt. Yes, they still acted in utter disobedience, but who is to say that many, many years later from now, if an account was written of your personal history, would you be portrayed as acting in utter disobedience at times? The history and account of the people of Israel is a mirror of all of human history and our disobedient behavior. We find ourselves in their shoes when we “read the Bible” in our current circumstances. Nonetheless, the people did drastically disobey the Lord’s commands that they had agreed to not but 12 chapters earlier. Remember the “thou shalt have no other gods before me… and thou shalt not make an idol of any kind?” Well, they must have forgotten this part.
Year 1, Week 30 Bible story from the Main Street Curriculum