Exodus 32

Exodus 32

Exodus 32 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The first question I asked when reading this chapter was – what caused this? We read in the very first verse that it was because of a delay. How many times have we allowed sin to grow from our lack of patience in a situation? This is a really simple but powerful application. Had the people trusted in God (and Moses), and waited patiently for their leader, they would not have stumbled into this sin.

The second major issue here is that Aaron takes action without consulting the Lord. Countless times in Scripture we find this to be the case. Numerous times in Scripture we also find faithful men and women who immediately fall on their knees during troubling times. Aaron failed to consult the Lord! This is such a true statement of our world today.

Many people have good, “Christian” intentions but lack the spiritual depth of a relationship with Jesus Christ. So, in the end, their decisions really are their own version of Christianity which is essentially what happens in this chapter of Exodus; the people replace God with a golden calf.

So, why a calf?

“Cattle were common images for deities in that period. In Egypt, the popular goddess Hathor was represented as having various features of a cow, such as its horns and ears. Male deities in other cultures, such as Syria-Palestine and Babylon, were often depicted as having some cow features, usually horns. And Canaanite deities such as El and Baal are associated with bulls in the Ugaritic texts. If the golden calf represents a Canaanite god, such worship was a blatant rejection of Israel’s God.”

Nelson’s New Illustrated Commentary

“The bull, the principal god of Egypt called Apis, later also would become the god of the Ten Tribes (1 Kings 12:28). This pitiful apostasy, so soon after God had thundered from the mountain, “You shall have no other gods before me,” and after the marvelous miracles in Egypt, indicates the depths to which the Israelites had sunk in Egyptian idolatry. It was a crisis, calling for immediate discipline, and the punishment was swift and severe.”

Halley’s Bible Handbook

“The basic cause of this sin was unbelief: the people became impatient while waiting for Moses, and without true faith they decided they had to have something they could see. Impatience and unbelief led to idolatry, and idolatry led to immorality (Rom 1:18-32).”

Warren Wiersbe

The most striking part of this chapter that cannot be ignored is the intercession by Moses for his people. We see this time and time again throughout Exodus and Numbers. Moses falls on his face before the Lord and pleads for grace to be found with the Israelites. He pleads on behalf of God’s covenant.

Jesus not only pleads for us, but he offers Himself as a Living Sacrifice. Because of His work at the cross, He is our Lord and Savior. We must remember to be patient in waiting on the Lord, diligent in seeking Him in prayer, and always remember that there is no substitute for the power of Jesus Christ.

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