5 Law & Wilderness
Exodus 32 presents a very sad event in the history God’s people. While Moses is on the mountain receiving the Ten Words (commandments), the people are making objects to worship, as substitutes for the true God. Sadly that pattern was repeated throughout the Old Testament.
Lest we become too self-righteous, we look at the mirror of the Law and discover we, too, journey to the wilderness to get our gods who will be more responsive to our needs, our wants, our … What gods do we fashion today?
Maybe this is too close to home.
Exodus 32:1–14 (GW)
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, “We don’t know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. Make gods who will lead us.”
2 Aaron said to them, “Have your wives, sons, and daughters take off the gold earrings they are wearing, and bring them to me.”
3 So all the people took off their gold earrings and handed them to Aaron.4 After he had worked on the gold with a tool, he made it into a statue of a calf.
Then they said, “Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival in the Lord’s honor.”
6 Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought fellowship offerings. Afterward, they sat down to a feast, which turned into an orgy.
7 The Lord said to Moses, “Go back down there. Your people whom you brought out of Egypt have ruined everything. 8 They’ve already turned from the way I commanded them to live. They’ve made a statue of a calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it. They’ve said, ‘Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.’”
9 The Lord added, “I’ve seen these people, and they are impossible to deal with.10 Now leave me alone. I’m so angry with them I am going to destroy them. Then I’ll make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why are you so angry with your people whom you brought out of Egypt using your great power and mighty hand? 12 Don’t let the Egyptians say, ‘He was planning all along to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth. That’s why he brought them out of our land.’ Don’t be so angry. Reconsider your decision to bring this disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You took an oath, swearing on yourself. You told them, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. I will give to your descendants all the land I spoke of. It will be their permanent possession.’”
14 So the Lord reconsidered his threat to destroy his people.
Acts 7:35-41 (GW)
35 “This is the Moses whom the Israelites rejected by saying, ‘Who made you our ruler and judge?’ This is the one God sent to free them and to rule them with the help of the messenger who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This is the man who led our ancestors out of Egypt. He is the person who did amazing things and worked miracles in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert for 40 years. 37 This is the same Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet, an Israelite like me.’ 38 This is the Moses who was in the assembly in the desert. Our ancestors and the messenger who spoke to him on Mount Sinai were there with him. Moses received life-giving messages to give to us, 39 but our ancestors were not willing to obey him. Instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘We don’t know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. So make gods who will lead us.’ 41 That was the time they made a calf. They offered a sacrifice to that false god and delighted in what they had made.
Luke 4:1–13 (GW)
1 Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit as he left the Jordan River. The Spirit led him while he was in the desert, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for 40 days. During those days Jesus ate nothing, so when they were over, he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
4 Jesus answered him, “Scripture says, ‘A person cannot live on bread alone.’”
5 The devil took him to a high place and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant. 6 The devil said to him, “I will give you all the power and glory of these kingdoms. All of it has been given to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 So if you will worship me, all this will be yours.”
8 Jesus answered him, “Scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil took him into Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest part of the temple. He said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, jump from here! 10 Scripture says, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you to watch over you carefully. 11 They will carry you in their hands so that you never hit your foot against a rock.’”
12 Jesus answered him, “It has been said, ‘Never tempt the Lord your God.’”
13 After the devil had finished tempting Jesus in every possible way, the devil left him until another time.