The People Make an Idol
1 After the people saw that Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, they went to Aaron and said, “Make us an image of a god who will lead and protect us. Moses brought us out of Egypt, but nobody knows what has happened to him.”
2Aaron told them, “Bring me the gold earrings that your wives and sons and daughters are wearing.” 3Everybody took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron, 4 then he melted them and made an idol in the shape of a young bull.
All the people said to one another, “This is the god who brought us out of Egypt!”
5When Aaron saw what was happening, he built an altar in front of the idol and said, “Tomorrow we will celebrate in honor of the Lord.” 6 The people got up early the next morning and killed some animals to be used for sacrifices and others to be eaten. Then everyone ate and drank so much that they began to carry on like wild people.
7The Lord said to Moses:
Hurry back down! Those people you led out of Egypt are acting like fools. 8They have already stopped obeying me and have made themselves an idol in the shape of a young bull. They have bowed down to it, offered sacrifices, and said that it is the god who brought them out of Egypt. 9Moses, I have seen how stubborn these people are, 10and I'm angry enough to destroy them, so don't try to stop me. But I will make your descendants into a great nation.
11 Moses tried to get the Lord God to change his mind:
Our Lord, you used your mighty power to bring these people out of Egypt. Now don't become angry and destroy them. 12If you do, the Egyptians will say that you brought your people out here into the mountains just to get rid of them. Please don't be angry with your people. Don't destroy them!
13 Remember the solemn promise you made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You promised that someday they would have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and that you would give them land.
14So even though the Lord had threatened to destroy the people, he changed his mind and let them live.
Sometimes it is not easy to wait for God. When our concerns seem to demand immediate response, waiting on God can be difficult. It is hard to wait in trust when the temptation to bolt is calling. Sometimes simple impatience and boredom crowd out the resolve to wait on God.
It is easy to understand how people became impatient waiting for Moses to return from the mountain. All that wandering must have felt like a waste of time. The desert environment must have added to their feelings of desolation.
It is easy to recognize the impatience and disobedience of those waiting for the return of Moses. It is more difficult for us to isolate and recognize our own personal practices of impatience. When our focus is on pleasing God, then God’s timing feels more acceptable. When our focus is on our own agenda or need, then God’s timing can seem intolerably slow. Perhaps the secret to patience is to maintain a focus on God’s plans and purposes.
Moses interceded on behalf of the people by focusing on the plans and purposes of God. If his anger were to burn against his people, the Egyptians would not see God’s redemptive plan and action. His plea for the redemptive plan and purpose of God saved the Israelites from judgment.
It is good to recognize our personal tendencies of impatience and anxiety. Each day is an opportunity to strengthen our resolve to remain aligned with God’s plans and purposes. With this strengthened focus we will grow in patience and find it easier to stay within God’s timing.
Lord help make this day be a day of keeping in step with you. Help me to be perfectly aligned to your plan and purpose.