Here’s what I find to be ironic about this section of scripture. While Moses is on the mountain being instructed on how the Israelites are to worship God, the Israelites are down in the valley making things up on their own. They get impatient, they demand a “god” to worship and so they create a god to worship.
There is a whole bunch we could talk about from these three chapters, but let’s keep it simple. We are to worship God and God alone. But there are other gods we can worship, and there are moments when they may seem more attractive. They can be seem more accessible, more beneficial, more attentive, and even more able to meet our immediate needs. That was the Israelites problem, they wanted immediate gratification, so they turned to a more readily available source than Almighty God.
Since the beginning, God has wanted exclusive rights to our adoration and worship. Not in the vain sort of way we seek adoration and worship mind you. That is why he is so specific about worship in the tail end of Exodus and into Leviticus. God isn’t interested in our immediate desires, he is interested in creating a people with clean hearts, godly minds and motives akin to his own. I once read a quote that said: “God is not interested in what we do, he is interested in who we are becoming.” When our hearts and our minds belong to God, proper actions (good works as the New Testament calls them) will naturally flow out of us, a sort of beneficial waste-produce if you will.
The real problem in this scene is that the hearts and minds of the Israelites did not belong to God. That’s probably why they couldn’t trust God to deliver Canaan into their hands and why they spend 40 years in the desert waiting for a whole generation to die off. Their hearts belonged to Egypt, to the gods and the type of worship they knew there. Can’t really blame them actually. They didn’t know God. Somewhere between Joseph and Moses, Yahweh kind of got lost in the mix.
You see the same types of struggles in people who are freshly Christian. They know the beginnings of who Jesus is and how much he loves them, but they haven’t plumbed the depths of God enough to wholly belong to him. I am of course speaking in generalities. Some people become Christians and never experience any draw or pull back to their pre-Christian ways; but others fight for a good long while with the “old self” that Paul speaks about.
That is why it is so important for us as Christians to deal gently, patiently and lovingly with new Christians, something Moses could have learned a bit about, which we’ll begin to see tomorrow.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 33-35