by Tony Nester

The Golden Calf
Tony R. Nester
Exodus 32:1-35

In last week's story Moses was encountering God atop Mt. Sinai. There, on that mountain in the midst of a dense cloud and a fierce storm, God began to reveal to Moses his design for how the people of Israel were to live. The Jewish people refer to this design for living as "Torah." Our Bibles translate that Hebrew word as "Law." The first part of God's Law, and the most famous, is the Ten Commandments.

But God's design for life included much more than the Ten Commandments. I would like you to open your Bible to Exodus 20.

The passage on the Ten Commandments ends with verse 21. Verse 22 moves on with the other parts of the Law which God revealed to Moses. Scan the pages and notice the caption titles as we move on through Chapters 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31.

All of this was included in the revelation that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It included God's will regarding how the Israelites were to practice justice with one another, the religious festivals they were to observe, the design of the Tabernacle -- a movable tent sanctuary where they would worship God, and instructions for ordaining priests to preside over worship and sacrifices.

Here was God's design for his people: how they would live in a covenant relationship with him. God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Now God was revealing to Moses how they would live from this point on as a holy people under the authority of God. This part of the story ends with Exodus 31:18:

(Exodus 31:18 NRSV) "When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God."

The Bible says that this revelation of God to Moses took up 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18) which is a Biblical formula that means a long and intense amount of time. During this time God directed that Aaron would go back to the people while Moses remained alone on the Mt. ...

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