All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The “Miracle” of the Golden Calf
Based on Exodus 32

Moses climbs Mount Sinai and stays there for 40 days and nights, which the people take as a negative omen, since they remember that it rained for 40 days and nights at the flood! Finally, they approach Aaron, the high priest, saying, “Make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses . . . we do not know what has become of him.”

Fearing for his life, Aaron demands their golden earrings, hoping they will balk at giving up their treasured possessions. But they’re all too willing, and now he feels compelled to fashion the gold with an engraving tool into a molded calf.


When the people see the golden calf, they cry, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” Exodus 32:4.

This calf idol is not unfamiliar, since they had observed the pagan worship of Apis the bull in Egypt. In their minds, the bull represents the true God. This seems to be confirmed when Aaron builds an altar before it and ironically proclaims a “feast to the Lord” the following day. However, this mixing of pagan and true worship, this spirit of compromise, is an abomination to the Lord, and will plague God’s people for many years—as it still often does, today.

Worship of this calf is clearly in defiance of God’s second commandment. He has been trying to wean them away from a physical image of God and help them accept an invisible One, by faith. But the people make burnt offerings and peace offerings to their golden calf, and sit down to eat and drink in a communion meal with their god. After their meal, they rise up to “play”—a Hebrew verb that has the connotation of drunkenness and orgies!

The Lord’s anger is kindled, and He proposes to wipe out these “stiff-necked people.” He disowns the ones who, just weeks before, entered into a covenant with Him, but obviously not with their hearts.

However, Moses intercedes, and the Lord tells him to go down the mountain because the people have corrupted themselves. (It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew verb “corrupt” used here is the same one used for the corruption in Noah’s day).

Part way down the mountain, Moses meets Joshua, who has been waiting for him. As a soldier, Joshua mistakes the revelry of the antiphonal singers below with sounds of war cries. But Moses knows better, and when they reach the crowd, they see them dancing around the golden calf. Filled with anger, Moses shatters the two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments at the foot of the mountain, effectively symbolizing the breaking of the Lord’s covenant by His people.

The “Miracle” Calf

When confronted, Aaron justifies his lack of leadership by blaming the people. He says they demanded gods to lead them since Moses hadn’t returned—quickly adding that he threw their golden earrings into the fire, and out came this calf! (What a miracle that would have been!)

Next, Moses burns the calf and grinds it into powder. Then he scatters it over water and demands that the idol worshipers drink it—turning the instrument of their sin into the instrument of their punishment.

Standing at the entrance of the camp, Moses calls all those who choose to be on the Lord’s side to come to him and the sons of Levi bravely come forward. Firm action is necessary to crush the rebellion, so Moses gives the order to destroy the rebellious ones, which could even include their relatives.

Were God to permit this offense to go unpunished, His people would have yielded more readily to idolatry in the future. As their loving Protector, He removes the defiant ones, lest they lead others to ruin.

(Read 050)

Was I spinning? It must have worked.

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