God called Moses to appear before Him in the mount to receive the Ten Commandments and the other laws for guiding His people. The people in the camp got weary of waiting for Moses and asked Aaron to make them a god – golden calf. To a large extent the spirit of apostasy was generated by the “mixed multitude” who had joined the Israelites to escape the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4).
After God punished the Egyptians with the Ten plagues, delivered them from bondage, parted the Red Sea, and fed the masses with manna, the people committed a great terrible sin by wanting to worship an idol like the heathen Egyptians. So, God informed Moses of what was happening in the camp and He threatened to destroy them for their unbelief. But Moses interceded on their behalf and descended from the mountain to deal with the people (Exodus 32:7–18).
When Moses saw the apostasy in the camp, “his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain” (Exodus 32:19). Moses did that because he felt the people were unworthy of God’s Holy and pure law. Then, Moses burned the golden calf, and scattered its ashes in the water, and made the Israelites drink it (Exodus 32:20). Moses wanted the people to see the futility of an idol (1 Cor. 8:4). If the calf could not save itself, it certainly could not save its worshipers (Ps. 115:3–9; Isa. 46:5–7).
Then, Moses took a decisive action and called the people that were on God’s side. In response to his call, the Levites came forward. And he commanded them to punish those who had apostatized. And the Lord sent a plague on the guilty ones to purify the camp from sin (Exodus 32:33–35).
Again, Moses prayed for God to have mercy on the camp. So, the plague stopped, and the seriousness of the sin was realized. The Lord continued to be patient with the children of Israel, and we can draw encouragement and hope as we study these stories and realize God’s long suffering towards those that forget His mighty acts.
In His service,
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