Verse 1 – Here’s where we have to remember that Moses had been gone for 40 days. Aaron and the elders had been half-way up the mountain, but had returned to the people. (Have you ever thought God wasn’t going to show up)? By the way the people spoke about Moses; they were showing their ungrateful and disrespectful attitude. “This Moses, the man who brought us up from Egypt” was just about as disrespectful as you could get. They go to Aaron and demand he make them idols (gods) that they can see and depend on. Do you go back to your old way of thinking when God doesn’t answer you in your timing? They did.
Verse 2-4 – Here’s the sad part; Aaron didn’t even argue with them. Here is the man who is going to be anointed that God has personally chosen to be High Priest. He simply tells them to bring me your gold. This calf was a sign of strength and fertility in Egypt and Canaan. (This was so messed up). They made this calf their god.
Verses 4-6 – There were two popular Egyptian gods; Hapi (Apis and Hathor-which was a bull and a heifer). Even if we don’t make idols, some like to make God in their image. When people do this, the make God into whom they want Him to be. Aaron even built an altar before this calf. That must have taken some time. But the Bible says they then sat down and rose up the next day to eat, drink and play. They were having a throw –down party around this golden calf. How many of you can remember a time when you waited longer than 40 days for a prayer to be answered or even years? It’s important to know that our loving God is lining everything up to give us His best. Wait upon the Lord. I’ve found that works best.
Verse 7 – Maybe I shouldn’t laugh, but I see something in what God told Moses, funny. He said “the people YOU brought out of the land of Egypt.” It sounds like the people’s behavior is now Moses fault. But God had totally put the responsibility on Moses. So they were his people. The word “corrupt” describes something irrevocably spoiled in such a way that it is no longer of any use.
Verses 9-14 – When the Lord told Moses about the situation going on below, it left the door open for Moses to intervene. Earlier the Lord had to persuade Moses to accept His plans; now Moses uses the Lords own words to persuade Him to have mercy on His chosen people. When God relented from destroying His people, He acted totally in a way that is constant with His character of mercy and forgiveness. “Stiff-necked”-stubborn and rebellious.” This is just how we were before we came to Christ.
Verse 17 – Moses is going down the mountain carrying the tablets that God wrote. He comes to Joshua, which had not been with Moses on the very top. Joshua had waited on Moses and had no idea what was going on below. He said all the noise sounded like war, so it must have been pretty loud (parties are loud).
Verses 19,20 – I imagine Moses and Joshua running down the mountain and when Moses sees what’s going on is full of more than anger-more like rage. When we are justifiably angry at sin, be careful not to do anything you might regret later. They had to build a fire hot enough to melt that golden calf. After he ground it up he put it in their water and made them drink it. Ever have your mouth washed out with soap? I think this was worse. So now the very tablets that God wrote with His finger are broken and this would later become regret to Moses.
Verses 21-24 – These verses remind me o when Adam told God “it was the woman who YOU gave me.” This attempt to place the blame on the people showed that Aaron knew he was wrong. He describes the calf coming out of the flames a surprise. This is laughable. Aaron’s excuses showed the spiritual decline in his leadership to the people. Those who function as spokespersons and assistants need to make sure their theology and morality line up with God so they will not be influenced by pressure from people.
Verses 25-29 – I want my readers to remember something here. Moses had been gone receiving the law from God. Before the law was given, no one died from disease, complaining, or foolishness. From Abraham to Moses the people were under grace and did not realize it. Now the law had been given; they sinned; 3,000 died that day at the base of Mount Sinai. Now fast-forward to the Book of Acts; on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached Jesus Christ and 3,000 was saved. Jesus Christ fulfilled the letter of the law so we are under grace now (Acts 2:41).
Verses 30-33 – By requesting to die, if the people died, Moses identified himself with the people and refused the start of a “great nation” to replace them.
Verses 34, 35 – This angel was first mentioned in 3:2. The people had not become sick or any plagues put on them before this. Now there was sickness and death among them. Sometimes the consequences of our sin lasts a lot longer than the pleasure we had when we were doing it.