What Should We Learn From The Golden Calf Incident In Exodus 32
KEY SCRIPTURES: Exodus 32:1-35; 20:4-7
Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
The story of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf started from when Moses had been in Mount Sinai for forty days and nights and since he was long in coming down to the Israelites, the people met with Aaron, Moses’ brother to make them a god that they can see and touch. Aaron, who was the second in leadership, didn’t deem it fit to rebuke them for this thinking and encourage them to have faith in God that had done wonderous miracles in their midst but went ahead to request for their golden earrings and made them into a golden calf. He built the golden calf and even made a proclamation of a feast to be made for it. The encouragement of Aaron made the people to be idolaters. When God saw what they were doing, He spoke to Moses about it and decided to punish all of them by killing them but Moses interceded on their behalf and God heard him. Moses came down from the mountain and when he met Joshua, they heard sounds and Joshua thought they were sounds of war but when they got there, they met the people singing, dancing, and worshiping the golden calf. Seeing the evil done by the people, Moses in the process of anger broke the two tables containing the ten commandments written by God to the people of Israel.
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Moses rebuked Aaron for the act of idolatry but he was quick to cast the blame on the people of Israelites. Due to this act, Moses asked for those that didn’t worship the golden calf and only the Levites stood out, 3000 men were killed due to this incident in the camp of the Israelites. Moses instructed the people to consecrate themselves and atone for their sins. Then Moses interceded for the people so that God could forgive them their sins. God instructed Moses to take the people to the place He wanted them to go but He said at a later time, He was going to punish the people for their sins. The incidence of the golden calf violated the commandments given to the children of Israelites in Exodus 20 which was why God said He will punish them later for it. There are many lessons to learn from this incident and in this article, some of them will be mentioned.
- HAVE FAITH IN GOD ALWAYS
The children of Israelites failed to have faith in God despite all the wondrous miracles God did in Egypt and in their way out of Egypt. They still believe in the idols of Egypt that they can see and touch and that was why they requested a god that they can see and touch. The god that couldn’t save them from the oppression of the Egyptians. They forgot the fact that only God is to be worshiped no matter the situation or circumstances. As Christians, we are meant to have faith in God and only Him should be always worshiped. The people were only interested in instant gratification and didn’t think about the consequences of their actions. In all we do as believers, we should learn to put God first, because if the children of Israelites had put God first in their thinking, they wouldn’t request for a man-made god. Have strong faith in God no matter what proves us worthy to be Christ ambassadors always.
2. BAD LEADERSHIP
Another lesson from the incident of the golden calf is to avoid being a bad leader like Aaron. The people came with a bad request and instead of admonishing them and reminding them of the wonders and promises of God, Aaron decided to be men pleasers just like King Saul in the bible, who listened to the people he was meant to show the ways of God and lose out at the long run. As believers, we are called to lead the people to serve God better and make them know the God they are serving and not to entertain ways that compromise their faith in God. Aaron was meant to hold the fort when Moses wasn’t around so that the people wouldn’t go stray, but he ended up leading the people into greater sins. As Christians, we are meant to guide the new convert with the sincere word of God and not lead them into committing greater sins by being a bad leader to them.
3. PATIENTLY WAIT FOR GOD’S PROMISES AND PROVISIONS
In the incident of the golden calf, only the son of the Levites didn’t worship the golden calf because they patiently waited for God’s promise and provisions. This single act marks the beginning of the priestly family because only the Levites were exonerated to become priests among the people of Israelites. As believers, we should always wait patiently for God’s promises and provisions. God is always working something out even though we might not see it from the beginning, but God is faithful towards His words, and He is not a man who will lie or repent. The children of Israelites didn’t know God was taking them to a land filled with milk and honey but due to impatience and unbelief, they lost it and all of the adults never got to the promised land.
4. BE A GOOD INTERCESSOR
In the incident of the golden calf, we saw Moses as a good intercessor for the children of Israelites, even when God was ready to destroy them, he begged God on their behalf and even requested that God should remove his name from the book of life because ethe the children of the Israelites. This shows how deep love Moses had for the children of the Israelites. As Christians, we should be good intercessors just like Moses to the people he was called to lead. Our prayers shouldn’t always be about us all the time, but we should learn to pray for everyone, especially the unbelievers and the world at large. We must always intercede for others through prayers.
5. AVOID DESTRUCTIVE ANGER
Impulse anger can lead to unnecessary destruction. In the incident of the golden calf, we saw that the impulse anger of Moses led him into breaking the two tables containing the ten commandments written by God to him which he was meant to give to the children of the Israelites. He didn’t learn to control his anger and the same anger afterwards made him lose out in leading the children of Israelites to the promised land. As believers, we should learn to control our feelings and emotions. The spirit of anger is not good and once discovered in one’s life, one should seek the help of the holy spirit to get rid of it before it leads to destruction.
6. GOD IS NOT HAPPY WHEN WE SINNED AGAINST HIM
In the incident of the golden calf, it shows that God responds in anger when we take Him for granted. God is a loving God but he is not happy when we sin against Him and there are always consequences for all actions made. As believers, we should endeavor not to take the grace and mercy of God for granted.
God can’t work with us when we elevate anything or anyone above Him. We should always endeavor to patiently wait for the leading and guidance of God. Being men pleasers have bad consequences but practicing being a good leader like Moses as a believer.