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14. Disaster Strikes

June 26, 2009

Text:   Exodus 32:1-35

Key Verses:   Exodus 32:14, 33

Outline:             I. Israel Sins      Ex. 32:1-10

                             II. Moses Intercedes      Ex. 32:11-24

                            III. The Lord Judges      Ex. 32:25-35


     The people miss Moses and believe he is gone for good. So they take matters into their own hands by asking Aaron to make them a god. Aaron asks them to bring him all their jewelry and from that fashions a gold calf and pronounces it as their god who delivered them from Egypt. Aaron even builds an altar before the calf and declares a day of feasting before the Lord. The people come with their sacrifices and begin to eat and play. It takes them less than 40 days to forget what God had said to them; that they are to have no other gods other than the Lord.

     The Lord sends Moses down the mountain because the people are worshipping an idol. The Lord has seen enough and wants to destroy all Israel and start over with Moses. But Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel saying that if they all die, Egypt will always blame Israel’s God. Moses also asks God to remember His Covenant that He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord changes His mind and Moses descends with the two tablets God has written on with His hand.

     As Moses and Joshua near the base of the mountain, Joshua believes he hears the people rejoicing. But as they near the camp, Moses observes their idolatry and becomes angry, breaking the tablets on the ground and then breaking the idol. The dust from the ground up idol is put in their drinking water and the Israelites are told to drink it. Perhaps this made the revelers sick and that is how the Levites knew who to slay when God/Moses pronounce judgment on them.

     Moses asks Aaron why he lost control. Aaron explains that he just did what the people wanted in that Moses hadn’t returned and the people were bent on evil. It’s difficult to explain just why Aaron was not among those slain later. Perhaps he made the idol but did not worship the idol along with the others and, therefore, was offered mercy.

     Moses sees the people are still out of control and calls forth all Israelites to learn who is faithful to the Lord. All the sons of Levi step forward. They are told to get their swords, go through the camp, and slay their brothers. The slaughter totaled over 3000 men. It is said the Levites dedicated themselves to God and obeyed Moses. This probably happened before they grabbed their swords and set out on their mission.

     Moses says their sin was grave and that he would return to the mountain and seek God asking Him for forgiveness and atonement. As he approaches God, Moses offers to give up his position with God if only he would restore the Israelites to their former position. God says those who sinned will be blotted out of His Book of Life. What the Levites accomplished on earth, God would take care of in Heaven.

     God tells Moses to get back to the work of leading His people. God’s angel will go before them but God will punish all who worshipped the idol. They were punished with death, physical and spiritual death.

            An interesting alternative outline would be:

                    1. Failure [by the people and Aaron]      Ex. 32:1-10

                    2. Forgiveness [by God]      Ex. 32:11-16

                   3. Frolicking [by the people]      Ex. 32:17-20

                   4. Floundering [by Aaron]      Ex. 32:21-25

                   5. Forthcoming [by the Levites]      Ex. 32:26

                   6. Frantic [by Moses]      Ex. 32:27-33

                  7. Faithfulness and Fortitude [by God]      Ex. 32:34-35


     1. Miracles do not guarantee faithfulness to God. We need a change of heart.

      2. It is important for us to talk with the Lord everyday so we can experience His Presence and not sin by committing idolatry.

     3. We, as the Lord’s ministers, have a responsibility to encourage our brothers to be faithful and obedient in all situations and forever.

     4. Christ intercedes for us just as Moses interceded for Israel. Claim God’s promise of forgiveness and love Him with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

     5. Lean on God for wisdom and discernment so that you know when activities in the church are pleasing God or are making Him angry. There must be a balance between law and grace for God’s Name to be Glorified. Remember, obedience to God is evidence of God’s grace in your life.

     6. God judges the sin of His people by using His faithful people who have dedicated their lives to serving Him and being obedient to His Will.

     7. Failure to seek God’s forgiveness removes one from receiving God’s future blessings.

     8. When you love people, you will intercede on their behalf.


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