In this mediation, I’m going to return to our study of the life of Moses. In past studies the nation of Israel has been delivered from Egyptian slavery and has traveled from Egypt to Mt. Sinai. Moses had gone up on the mountain to converse with God and remained there for an extended time (Exodus 32:1).

Dr. Gary Baker is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email him at pastor@gracebaptistpaso.org.

In response to this delay, the people encouraged Aaron to do a very irrational sin and make an idol. The reason for making an idol was the people wanted to replace Moses as their leader with a false god of the Egyptians. The false god was Apis, who was a deity as the bull god. This is why Aaron made a golden calf (Exodus 32:2-4).

Then the Israelites did a very foolish and irrational thing.
They proclaimed that this Egyptian deity was the person that delivered them from slavery. Then they worshipped the idol and offered sacrifices to it (Exodus 32:5-6). To commit idolatry and worship a false god was absurd.

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The Lord Jehovah responded to this very sinful action with wrath and desired to abolish the nation and make a new nation with Moses as its leader. This reveals the seriousness of the sin of idolatry (Exodus 32:7-10). Moses prayed to the Lord and asked Him to be merciful and forgiving based on the promises the Lord had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the covenant given to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3).

Moses’ prayer delivered the people from destruction. The intercession of Moses again prevented the nation of Israel from being severely disciplined (Exodus 32:11-14). When Moses came down from the mountain with Joshua and saw the idol and the people behaving immorally, he became very angry (Exodus 32:15-19). He ground the idol to powder and mixed it with water and made the people drink it. Then Moses confronted Aaron and asked him why he committed such a great sin. Aaron made the excuse that the people forced him to make the idol. Moses then had 3,000 men executed for their sin (Exodus 32:20-28). Then Moses confronted the entire nation with their great sin and told them that he had asked God to forgive them. However, the Lord told Moses that in the future He would punish whoever sinned against Him (Exodus 32:30-35).
This episode in Israel’s history reveals that idolatry is a very serious sin against God. Idolatry is committed when a person attempts to either replace the true God with a false deity or gives priority to a person, thing or desire ahead of God. God is to have pre-eminence in every desire, goal and deed in a believer’s life. The apostle John gives us the command: “Little children, KEEP YOURSELVES form IDOLS.” 1 John 5:21.


Lessons to Be Learned

  1. Committing idolatry is a serious sin against God.
  2. Praying for other people living in sin is important and helpful.
  3. There will always be harmful consequences for committing ins: We will REAP what we SOW: Galatians 6:7-8.