Day 15

Moses and the Golden Calf

from the reading plan

Exodus 32:1-35, Malachi 4:1-6

I am not a patient person. When a big decision looms, I gravitate toward the quickest decision which is (surprise, surprise) not always the best one. Impatience gets me in trouble. When I grasp at the solution at hand instead of seeking the best solution, it almost never goes well.

That’s what Israel did in Exodus 32. They tired of waiting on Moses and on God. They knew what was right, but it required patience and faith, so they discarded it. Instead of waiting for Moses to return from Sinai with God’s word, they demanded a new god made of gold.

This sounds absurd, doesn’t it? You can’t just manufacture a god. If it’s manufactured then it isn’t a deity. It’s just a decoration.

At the same time, though, we all do this when we choose to grasp at hope in something that isn’t God. Maybe it is money or employment or a relationship or status. Each of these are manufactured things, made up of created matter and created beings. They aren’t gods, yet we still turn to worship them and place our hopes in them—just like Israel did with the golden calf that Aaron made.

We forget something when we do this, something of utmost importance. We forget God —just like Israel forgot the God that thundered atop Sinai and wrote His commands on stone tablets. We forget God who freed us from our bondage to sin just like they forgot God who freed them from bondage to Egypt. Forgetting God has dire consequences.

For Israel, it led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people, followed by a plague that struck down even more. Is that vindictive of God, or too harsh? No. It’s a reminder of His holiness and how seriously this holy God takes idolatry. He is the only God to be worshipped.

God was setting aside a people for Himself, a people through whom He would bless the whole world. How could they be set apart as His if they gave themselves to a golden bovine? How can anyone who claims to be part of God’s people now be set apart if we worship anything other than Him?

God is holy—wholly other and perfect. There is no other. And that means we must be in or out, redeemed and committed to Him or facing judgment for our rebellion. We cannot pick our god. There is no menu off of which we order deities. Will we worship The Lord even when it means waiting and wondering? Because in this life, there will be waiting and wondering.

written by Barnabas Piper

Post Comments (20)

20 thoughts on "Moses and the Golden Calf"

  1. Jesse Weaver says:

    The gospel is a great reminder about how since the beginning of time, man has been mistaken and immature. I need these reminders to know that I am imperfect, just as others were long before me.

  2. Jesse Weaver says:

    Man is flawed, and while time and time again Israel witnessed miracles, they still would choose to disobey God than to believe and worship him.

  3. Jesse Weaver says:

    I will respond with a heart of thanksgiving for all God has done for me. I will respond with a reverence for the Lord my God I serve, and a sense of awe for the direction he has given us through the commandments.

  4. Jesse Weaver says:

    God, while all loving, has no tolerance for idolatry, or putting other Gods before him. Just as it says in the 10 commandments. He has called us to faithful love, even if it means watching and waiting for him.

  5. Jesse Weaver says:

    God, thank you for your guidance in my life. Thank you for laying the groundwork in which I am to live my life. Through upholding the commandments, I know I am not being bound down by rules, but set free through the life you have blessed me with that is rooted in your desires for me. Please be with my wife as she chooses what decision to make with her job. Fill her with your Holy Spirit to quiet her mind and calm her anxieties, and help her to know the decision you desire for her. All these things I pray in your name. Amen.

  6. Daniel says:

    God is holy. He jealously desires the worship of His people.

  7. Daniel says:

    The gospel is that God wants our hearts to worship Him so much that He gave His son to die for us.

  8. Daniel says:

    We usually want whatever seems easy and best right now. We don’t like to wait on Gods timing when we can do our own thing.

  9. Daniel says:

    In worship of God alone.

  10. Daniel says:

    Father, I worship You. You alone are my God. You alone are the ruler of my heart. Keep me from the temptation of worshipping anything else. Let your Spirit guide me to worship and adoration of your name!

  11. Scott Schulman says:

    We are naturally so impatient, so we must rely on God’s grace for patience on waiting.

  12. Scott Schulman says:

    God is patient, but he is holy. Don’t test him.

  13. Scott Schulman says:

    The Gospel saves me from my impatience. It allows me to depend on God and wait on him.

  14. Scott Schulman says:

    Choose to be patient today.

  15. Scott Schulman says:

    Lord, give me patience in the little things today. Help me to see my sin as impatience in your perfect will. Give me the grace to see that and to wait.

  16. Weston DeMarco says:

    I will pray that God would make himself a big part of my life and nothing else would seem to be more worthy of worship.

  17. Weston DeMarco says:

    God hates idols. He gets very angry when people think they don’t need him and start to worship other thing in their lives.

  18. Weston DeMarco says:

    Men are impatient and will take the easiest option there is. Sooner or later, we are bound to make idols out of something in our life.

  19. Enjuju says:

    Prone to sin

  20. Enjuju says:


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