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Which best represents the problem with the comment?
Moses orders the Levites, I believe, to consecrate themselves to the Lord for opposing their won brethren and sons that day. The Levites needed to be humble about this event. They needed to acknowledge that they were performing YHWH's judgment and should be sure to obey Him, knowing that they themselves could be judged in the same way should they turn from YHWH.
The next day, Moses addresses the people, telling them that they sinned greatly, and here Moses says that there is a need for an atonement for the sins of these people. Moses said he would go up to the LORD on their behalf. Moses was ready to be blotted out of the Book of Life for these people as an act of atonement if God would then forgive them. But he was not a perfect substitute as Jesus was, nor, being only man, and not God as Jesus is, Moses could not pay the infinite penalty for sin. But we can admire Moses' willingness to do this, just as Paul said that he wished that he would be accursed and cut off from Christ if it would mean that Israel could be saved. I do not think that Paul actually thought he, himself could improve on the sacrifice of Christ, but said this to express his deep desire for the redemption of his own people. Moses perhaps had a look to Calvary in this instance, too, seeing ahead the redemption of the Messiah.
YHWH tells Moses "Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot him out of my book." So, perhaps not everyone in the camp participated in this event. YHWH tells Moses to continue to lead the people to the place promised and that His Angel will go before him, and then reminding Moses of a future judgment when these people will be punished for their sin.
The chapter closes saying that the LORD plagued the people because of their sin with the calf. It does not specify what the plague or plagues were. But I imagine this punishment reminded them often of how they sinned and how seriously YHWH considered it to be and how deadly sin is.
Moses and Joshua saw the calf and the people dancing (perhaps around the calf, rather than with each other-as worship). Moses became so righteously angry that he threw the stone tablets down with such force that they broke. What a vivid display of breaking the law of God-which the people were doing with so much glee and revelry!
Moses wasted not time speaking to the people (he spoke quite loudly with the breaking of the tablets), but he at once burned the golden calf in the fire and ground it down into a powder. Wondering how he did that, didn't it melt? Was this a miracle? He then scattered the powder upon the water that the people used to drink. What was pure, clean water became tainted with the powder and Moses made them all drink this water. How vividly illustrative of how sin becomes part of us, like water and what we eat. We can't just wash it off. It permeates every part of us, just like the molecules of water and food become a part of every cell in our bodies.
Moses then addresses Aaron, asking what the people did to him to bring him to do this great sin. Aaron give a really lame story about throwing the the earrings into the fire and, "whallah" a calf came out! He even makes it seem like the people forced him to do this.
And so, Standing at the entrance to the camp, Moses makes a charge, "whoever is on YHWH's side come and stand with me"
Only the sons of Levi came and stood with Moses. Moses instructed the sons of Levi to use their swords and go through the camp and slay their brethren, companions, neighbors. These were people the Levites knew and loved, these were "family". That day, the Levites slew 3 thousand men. That is a very small number considering that the group numbered in the millions. But, in obedience to Moses, and, I believe, guided by YHWH, the Levites killed those YHWH had pre-ordained to be killed that day. I wonder if these men were the ones who led the way for the demands for a "god they could see" to worship
YHWH says He will consume them with His wrath. I wonder if God said this because His will was to do this and then Moses persuaded Him to relent, or if He told Moses this so that Moses would know that these people deserved nothing but wrath to emphasize the seriousness of sin. I tend to think it is the latter because I do not think God can be talked out of what He intends to do. The Word says He will accomplish whatever He wills to do and no one can stay Him.
But Moses intercedes for his people-just as Jesus intercedes to the Father for all of us, for we are no different than these Israelites, completely unable to keep His law perfectly, quickly falling into error in our beliefs, trying to substitute something more acceptable or less disturbing to our sensibilities for God's way.
YHWH would have been perfectly just to consume the Israelites with his fiery wrath, but at Moses' pleading, He shows mercy. He does the same for us, not bringing upon us the destruction and torment we deserve, but instead, He continues to be gracious and forgiving to us despite our sinfulness.
Moses then proceeds down the mountain, knowing that YHWH will not destroy the whole nation for this sin. He carried with Him the two tablets of the Decalogue made of stone that YHWH inscribed by Himself, not chiseled by Moses. These tablets of the Law were sacred and good, untainted by human hands and thoughts.
At some point Moses meets up with Joshua on the Mount, most likely where Moses had left him to wait. Interesting to think that Moses was on the Mount 40 days and nights, and so was Joshua, waiting for Moses to come back down. Joshua did not give up hope of Moses coming down again. He had faith in YHWH and was obedient. Joshua tells Moses, "There is noise of war in the camp." The Israelites must have really been raising a clamor. But Moses correct Joshua, saying that the noise is not of victory, defeat, but singing.
And so Moses and Joshua came near the camp...
It would have been better for them to recite again and again the law Moses had given from YHWH that they had agreed to obey. But, as Paul said, the law was weakened by sin in that man's sin nature raises up to oppose these good commandments and entice every person to desire what the law prohibits and to not do what it proscribes. The Law could not keep the Israelites true to YHWH.
Verse 4 says that Aaron used an engraving tool on the calf. I wonder if He engraved any words or hieroglyphic images on it? He presents the calf to the people and says, "This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt." Was Aaron calling this calf idol, YHWH, or was he ascribing their deliverance to one of the Egyptian cattle gods? Perhaps Amon-Re, the sun god.
Verse 5 says, "So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it.." Was this an altar of unhewn stones as YHWH had ordained or was it an altar similar to the Egyptian ones for the bull god? Aaron proclaims that "tomorrow is a feast to YHWH". Here syncretism already creeps into true religion ordained by God Himself. And so it has continued through history. How sad.
Verses 5-6 describe their worship and feasting. Rose up early. Offered a burnt and peace offerings. Sat down to eat and drink. Rose up to play. What kind of play was this? Did they become drunk? And did this "play" involve occultic practices or sexual lewdness. Was it respectful or raunchy? These people did not even bat an eye at what this "worship and feasting" entailed. They, having been concerned about Moses being on the Mount so long, now had no more concern for him. They may have thought they were now free of him and his strictness and insistence on doing right before YHWH. Seems like they traded both Moses and YHWH in for a newer, 'seeker-friendly" model!
Meanwhile on the Mount, YHWH tells Moses to go down to the people, telling them what they had done. YHWH calls MOSES' people stiff-necked and tells Moses to stand aside.....
But, as it were, the people were eager to take off these earrings and give them to Aaron. Seeing how willing they were to give something of universal value for the sake of their god, makes me wonder about the sacrifices of Abel and Cain. Abel's sacrifice was accepted but Cain's was not. Well, this offering of their earrings was not acceptable even though costly. God is not impressed with things man treasures. He wants true worship that honors Him and does not substitute anything for Himself. No 'stand=ins" for Him!
Amazingly, Moses had preached the Words of God concerning the commandments. The Decalogue was delivered orally to the people before the people agreed to follow God and His commands. This is what they assented to do. They clearly knew that they were not to:
First of all, worship any other god but YHWH.
And Second of all, never create an image of any kind to represent YHWH.
So, whatever the golden calf represented broke one of these paramount commandments. The top of the list, so to speak. WOW!
Did they not fear Him? Did they think that they could just exchange YHWH for a more acceptable and "tame" god? Did they really think that YHWH would cause His Presence to dwell within or upon this golden calf or that a different god could do this?
I don't think we can ever really know what the Israelites and Aaron were really intending here, but we can know that what ever their intents, these were gravely sinful.
Creating this golden calf took some time and skill. The gold needed to be melted down and a cast of some time needed to be made. This shows that there was plenty of time for these people and Aaron to reverse course under the conviction of their sin. Aaron did the fine tuning on the calf, using tools to refine the features of the image. They took great care to form this idol.
YHWH, of course, knows all things and He knew their intentions and also what was going on in the camp while with Moses on the Mount. Moses was unknowing
It is noteworthy to consider why the Israelites had gold earrings in their ears. Were these earrings that were punched through their ears so as to not be removable or were they earrings that could be taken on and off easily? Were they earrings that were given to them by Egyptians as they were leaving Egypt or were they worn by them in Egypt as a custom of Egypt or from Canaan? Or, perhaps, were put in their ears by their Egyptian masters as a sign that they were slaves to the Pharaoh?
Aaron tells them to "break them off" in the KJV. Other versions say that Aaron says to "take they off." If these earrings were a sign of slavery, Aaron may have been indicating to the Israelites that they were to take off what represented enslavement to Egypt and their idolatry and instead worship YHWH-though an image of Him-to show their freedom won for them by YHWH.
If the earrings were worn as an Egyptian custom, Aaron may have wanted the Israelites to remove what was of Egypt to worship YHWH without defilement by Egyptian things. If the earrings were a custom of the middle east and not Egypt, then perhaps Aaron was asking them to take them off to exchange this custom for the worship of this YHWH who delivered them in such mighty ways. Everything they knew of God in the past was now changed. So. perhaps Aaron was thinking along those lines. We cannot know that Aaron's intent was to bring the people into idolatry or to have the people divest themselves of past worship symbols (which the earrings may have represented) and now have this new symbol of YHWH, their Deliverer.
Whatever Aaron intended when the people came to him asking for him to make a sacred image for them, it is peculiar that he made an image of a created thing. He could have made a pedestal of some sort to offer incense, or some altar for a sacrifice, but not a depiction of YHWH or any other god.
Maybe Aaron thought that the people would not want to give up their valuable gold jewelry.
This is such a sad chapter. Just before Moses went up to the mountain again, the Israelites had covenanted with YHWH that they would not worship any other gods but him. They promised to obey all that He commanded.
But now, Moses was up on the mountain within the cloud of glory with its thundering and lightnings. They Israelites spoke to each other about this, and it did not take too long for them to decide that Moses must have been consumed on the mountain by YHWH. They looked to Moses as their deliverer, not YHWH. They feared YHWH. He was a God that they shrunk back from, being fearsome and definitely exercising authority and power to reach right down into their very hearts. So now what will they do?
How or who decided on the plan to make an image of "YHWH". Although I do not think they really wanted this image to represent how they had experienced YHWH-rather, they wanted a much 'tamer" god to worship-like the ones of they knew in Egypt. In Egypt there were several cattle gods. The bull image was considered a reference to the Supreme sun God, thus being depicted with a sun between his horns. The cow image was a representation of a female deity, Hathor, who gave birth to the sun god. She was the representation of all that was good about femaleness-motherhood and fertility. There was a calf-bull god in the surrounding areas named Hadid who was the storm god.
I think it is difficult to really know what was intended by Aaron making a calf as an image of worship. Was it intended to be like Hadid, the storm god, since YHWH's appearance on the mountain was accompanied with storm-like manifestations? Was it intended to represent YHWH or was it an exchange of YHWH for a familiar god from Egypt, Hathor or the Apis bull?
I guess I will have to research more on this.
Whatever Aaron was thinking, the people had asked him to make a god for them to worship. He chose to make a calf. It would seem that Aaron of all people would have put a stop to it!
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
The Word of God is God ( John 1:1) and is not of any private interpretation ( 2 Peter 1:20).
The word 'Repent' in different forms (repent, repentance, repented, repentest, repenteth, repenting, repentings) is mentioned 110 times in the KJV, and means a lot more than what people by nature have been conditioned to believe. The word 'repent' used in the New Testament was translated from the Greek word "metanoeo", and means to change, transform, to think differently or reconsider.
It is the key principle of all the teachings of Jesus Christ and the axiom (basis) of the Word of God and a prerequisite and primary requirement for the salvation of mankind. It actually means the changing of spirits - to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God ( Acts 26:18).
For a better understanding and the 'spiritual truth' of what it means to repent, and learn how and by whom mankind has been deceived ( Rev. 12:9) and what people must do to be reunited with the true and living God, we invite you to seek Him according to the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive ( Matthew 7:7; John 14:17).
You need not that any man teach you ( Isaiah 54:13; 6:45; 1 John 2:27), as mankind follows after an image of a false god and a false Christ ( Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Gal. 4:8; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rev. 12:9).
It is only by revelation of God that people will come to know the true Christ ( Daniel 12:4,9; Amos 3:7; Matthew 16:17; Luke 2:26; Romans 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:10; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 3:3,5; Rev. 1:1), and only then will you be able to overcome the spirit of this world ( 1 John 5:4; Rev. 3:21) and learn what 'True Repentance' means, and how this whole world has been deceived ( Rev. 12:9). It should also be remembered that it is a narrow way that leadeth unto 'Life', and few there be that find it ( Matthew 7:14).
LUKE 15:10. LIKEWISE, I SAY UNTO YOU, THERE IS JOY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ANGELS OF GOD OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTETH.
Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.