This passage is unsettling for a few reasons - we see a people struggling with this feeling of abandonment, and we witness God’s anger and wrath. But perhaps the most unsettling part of this story is that we see the Israelites - God’s own people - create an intentional and elaborate idol to worship instead of God. The striking part about this is that the ones who are constructing this idol and bringing offerings and worship, are not some foreign or unknowing group of people, but the very same people that the Lord had delivered from Egypt, parted the sea for, and sustained with manna.
The capacity of the Israelites to still lose sight of God when they are in this place mirrors what is within all of us. That even when we have been delivered, saved and sustained, we still continue to worship other false and empty things. Today these idols look different than a golden calf, but we still give our hearts and worship to things that are not God.
Even though we have this propensity to wander just as the Israelites did, we know that God's grace is ever present and faithful. So daily we must turn away from what we falsely worship, and turn towards the One who deserves all praise. In doing so, we freshly receive God's goodness and grace.
Our weekly Worship Guide can be downloaded by clicking the image below.
Notes on our Worship Space:
The Cross, the Font, the Table, the Book
As we explore what it means to be the people of God, we have positioned these four symbols prominently to remind us of God’s faithfulness and where we find life, hope and our identity. The cross speaks of Jesus’ atoning death, the Font speaks of the new life he gives us through baptism, the Table speaks of our resurrected Savior who continues to gather us around his table of grace, and the Bible speaks of our source of authority and comfort as God speaks through his living word even today.
The 10 banners hanging in the sanctuary represent the messages in our series on Exodus. It is not just the spoken word but the creative, visual word that tells us of God’s love and faithfulness. See if you can guess which banner goes with which story! Many thanks to the team of Third artists who put them together: Mark Sprinkle, Holly Smith, Kathy Ames and Sarah Hale.
Exodus 32: 1-14
1 When 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.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. 7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ 9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” 11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.