Sacrifice Day 10 The Great Rebellion: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) What was the peoples’ root motivation in deciding to craft a golden image? (verse 1)

2) Was Aaron trying to get the people to worship the One True God in verse 5?

3) What is both present and absent from the Lord’s response in verses 7-10?

Exodus 32:1-10

When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make gods for us who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!”

2 Aaron replied to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the gold rings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf.

Then they said, “Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it and made an announcement: “There will be a festival to the Lord tomorrow.” 6 Early the next morning they arose, offered burnt offerings, and presented fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to party.

7 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. 8 They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” 9 The Lord also said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and they are indeed a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone, so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

Original Intent

1) What was the peoples’ root motivation in deciding to craft a golden image? (verse 1)
The narrative reads, “When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain…”, letting us know that impatience was the root heart-motivation of the Israelites in crafting an idol. Note that impatience wasn’t the sin, but, when left unchecked, it led them straight into sin. The language choice of the Israelites reveals the shallowness of both their faith while also giving us a hint of their background. “Come, make gods for us who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!” (verse 1) First, they bought the lie that an Almighty God was too hard to wait on. Perhaps they believed He was stingy, holding back on them or forgetting them. Or perhaps the idea of having a “god” they could fashion themselves was significantly more appealing than an all-powerful Being whose very presence brought the possibility of death because of the vastness of His holiness. (Exodus 20:18-19) Second, they exchanged the truth of Who God was as a singular God holding all power and authority, for a lie when they asked Aaron to make them “gods” plural. (Deuteronomy 6:4) Thirdly, the attributed the victory of freedom from 430 years of slavery in Egypt to a mere man, Moses, completely eliminating God from the equation. Every single night, a pillar of fire appeared to give Israel light and provide them with reassurance of Yahweh’s presence. Every single day, the Lord’s cloud led the way through the desert. (Exodus 13:21-22) Even now, parked at the base of Mt. Sinai, any Hebrew could cast their gaze upward to see the smoky blaze and be reminded of Yahweh’s presence. Still, they chose to abhor this God who plainly revealed Himself and exchange Him for an idol made of golden earrings. (Exodus 32:2)

2) Was Aaron trying to get the people to worship the One True God in verse 5?
The newly-freed Hebrew people had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years and had been indoctrinated by Egyptian culture for 4 generations. Consider what you may already know about ancient African culture and you gain a few useful insights into what happened at the base of Mt. Sinai. Egyptians were polytheistic, worshipping many gods with various sacrifices required for each of them. “Worship” was often sexual in nature, involving feasting and raucous partying on one extreme, but also included child sacrifice on the other. (verse 6) This was their model of what it meant to “worship” a deity. Though belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been preserved during slavery, the Hebrews combined what had been passed down about Yahweh with what they observed in the cultural everyday life around them. Should Aaron have known better, having witnessed all the plagues, many even a result of the staff he held in his own hand? Yes. Every plague sent on Egyptian lands and people was a direct attack from the One True God to the hundreds of false gods of Egypt. Where Egyptian deities failed, only Yahweh prevailed. Was the Lord God leading them out of Egypt? Did He part the Red Sea? Did He lead His people with a cloud by day and a fire by night? Yes, yes, and yes. Yahweh was not only leading them out of physical slavery, but also out of spiritual bondage. Still, they stubbornly clung to old patterns, attempting to meld what they knew of God with what they witnessed in cultural religion.

3) What is both present and absent from the Lord’s response in verses 7-10?
When reading Scripture with the intention of truly studying it for understanding, it’s important to read it first within context of the passages around it, and secondly to read it thoroughly several times, making observations each time. Going back several chapters, we understand Moses has been in the presence of the Lord high up on Mt. Sinai for 40 days receiving God’s Laws directly from Him. Moses has been the first audience of God’s complete law as well as beginning to grasp God’s all-consuming holiness and His heart for devoted, unadulterated worship from His people. As we practice repeated observation in verses 7-10, we observe how the Lord spoke with urgency, how He called the people “Moses’ people”, citing how Moses had brought them up from Egypt (instead of Himself), and the complete, detailed knowledge God had of Israel’s sin. Once we position ourselves within these understandings, we become curious about what is absent in the Lord’s actions and speech. He did not instantly obliterate the Hebrews for their sin. Though God obviously had full knowledge of their sin when Moses didn’t, God waited until He had finished giving His law to Moses in completion before telling Moses about their corruption. God demonstrated merciful patience even in His righteous, justified anger. As I finished reading through this account through the end of chapter 32, I not only found God’s merciful delay mysterious, but also Moses’ lagging follow-through to move down the mountain curious. The Lord had urgently told Moses to “Go down at once (verse 7, emphasis mine), but Moses lingered in conversation with the Lord. He had spent 40 days with Yahweh, and he was in no hurry to leave despite the Lord’s insistence.

Everyday Application

1) What was the peoples’ root motivation in deciding to craft a golden image? (verse 1)
It’s always easier to think of God as smaller and more manageable than He is. We might read confusing stories in the Bible, or of God acting in ways that don’t sit well with us. Rather than wrestle internally, we prefer to soften what the Bible says about Him. When we shy away from hard places in Scripture, we are walking the dangerous ground of the early Israelites who were all too eager to trade the God they knew for a God more easily managed of their own design. A God who sends people to Hell? A God who holds the corner on absolute truth? A God who convicts of sin? A God who says there is only one way to gain access to Him and have eternal life? What is a biblical truth you wrestle with? Are you willing to allow God to be exactly who He is, even if you can’t understand Him? Take a read through Romans 1 and watch for the lies people believed over truth; ask the Lord to reveal the deceptions to which you readily cling. Israel was led away by their selfish desire for instant gratification into a grotesque sin against the Holy One. New Testament disciple, James, describes this scenario, “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:15-16) Had the Hebrew people chosen to stop temptation in its tracks, they could have cut off the direct pathway to sin and death. They didn’t have access to the Holy Spirit living within them to give them victory over sin, but every believer in Jesus today does! When we face temptation, we can submit to God and Satan will flee. (James 4:10)

2) Was Aaron trying to get the people to worship the One True God in verse 5?
Syncretism is the attempted amalgamation of many different cultural or religious beliefs into one system. Once we peel back the layers of syncretism at the scene of the golden calf, it becomes easier to spot this straying from solid biblical beliefs in our own culture. Truth that fits my own belief system or believing there is no absolute truth is one glaring example of combining many different beliefs into one fallacious system that cannot be supported. Attending church, being a good person, believing in karma, believing in luck, taking communion, all while scattering food for the little Buddha idol at the shopping plaza in attempt to “earn favor” with “a god” combines many beliefs into one, broken system. Just as it’s easy to attempt to shape the One True God into an image that fits our mold, so it’s also just as easy to begin dropping off “less popular” beliefs of the Bible while adding in culturally relative viewpoints on religion. Any time we attempt to water-down the truths of Scripture, we end of in a state of confusion and sin just like the Hebrews. (Galatians 1:6-9) Scripture urges us again and again to hold fast to truth, for only God’s wisdom can preserve our path, allowing our feet to stand on solid ground. (Psalm 19:7-11) Consider reading Psalm 119 this weekend and choosing 1 or 2 verses to meditate on and memorize as the Lord cements our need for solid truth in our hearts!

3) What is both present and absent from the Lord’s response in verses 7-10?
In the time spent with God, learning His law and seeing His heart’s desire for closeness with His people, Moses’ own heart was moved to become like God’s, full of compassion and mercy. When the Lord said His anger would burn against the people for their sin, Moses quickly interceded for them and displays a beautiful overflow of the compassion he has witnessed in the Lord. (verses 11-14) After the Lord listens to Moses’ plea for more mercy and relents, Moses “turned and went down the mountain” carrying the two precious stones on which God had engraved the Ten Commandments. (verses 15-16) Still, Moses moves without rushing. Joshua, who had been waiting for Moses on the mountain all these days, anxiously urges Moses to hurry for he hears the sound of “war cries” below. (verse 17) It’s not until Moses sees with his own eyes the gross outpouring of idol worship and carousing sexual play that he moves to angry action, smashing the tablets into the base of the mountain. Horrified at the outrageous idolatry, Moses immediately orders the idol burned and its ashes mixed with water for the people to drink as consequence. Moses loved being with the Lord and time spent with Him shaped his view of how Yahweh alone is both wonderful and worthy of all worship. His time with the Lord and becoming familiar with the glorious goodness of His holiness brought sharp clarity and understanding to the vileness of sin. Having delighted in holiness, sin became all the more vulgar. May this be abundantly true in our own lives! May we seek to spend time lingering with the Lord, reading His word and delighting in its truths in such a rich way that sin grows ever more putrid and our desire for holiness is amplified!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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