Exodus 32:20 Moses Made the Children of Israel Drink
Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 30, 2012
Sometimes God puts us in a position to learn a spiritual lesson without us realizing it at the time. Years ago I used to custom paint cars. Red was always a popular color. In an attempt to separate ourselves from the norm, we typically avoided red. We decided to paint our cabinets one uniform color and chose a fire engine red. Went to the store to order the paint and I asked how much it was. Turned out that color was four times the normal cost. I asked why. The guy mixing the colors told us red was so expensive because of the gold in the paint. It seems when gold is dissolved in a thinner, it turns red.
Sometimes we put ourselves in a position for God to use symbols to teach a spiritual lesson. We see this in all the stories about Israel’s journey to the promised land. Out of all the stories, I think this one may have the most significant spiritual lesson, which may be the most difficult to explain. That is usually due to the fact each lesson has a way of touching everyone in such a deep personal manner.
I just cannot seem to figure out this story in Exodus chapter 32. When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1 NLTse). It seems to me they should have learned at least some of the spiritual lessons God was teaching them over the previous months. Didn’t they learn anything from all those miracles and plagues in Egypt? Didn’t crossing the Red Sea teach them anything? What about the daily image of God in the pillar of fire by night and a cloud during the day? What about the manna and water from a rock? I can’t imaging seeing all of those miracles and still doubting God.
Then one day God calls everyone to His mountain and speaks with them. He gives them His simple ten commandments and tells them He called them out of Egypt to make them a kingdom of priests. That included everyone, Israelites, Egyptians, the whole mixed multitude. What did they do? They turned down God’s offer. They told Moses they wanted him to talk to God, then come and tell them what God had to say. I think there is another personal spiritual lesson locked away inside of Israel’s decision. God shows them all these signs and wonders, tells them His plans and they respond by telling God, they had a better idea. Do we still do that? The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5 NLTse).
There must be something in the sequence God followed. Let’s look at the Biblical account of this sequence.
Gods calls Israel to His mountain. After He announces the ten commandments in His own voice Israel thinks it over. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19 NLTse).
Moses received other aspects of the law from God which he writes in a book. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded. We will obey.” (Exodus 24:7 NLTse).
Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. And the glory of the LORD settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the LORD appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:15-18 NLTse).
During the forty days God gave Moses the plans to build the Tabernacle along with instruction for the services. While God was speaking to Moses, Israel once again becomes wrestles. Remember, Israel traveled for sixty days through the wilderness before this sequence began. The forty day wait must have seemed strange to them. Do you think they expected a stroll through the park with a land flowing with milk and honey waiting on the other side? Now they have been waiting 3 1/3 months. It seemed to them God could have done a lot more to shorten their journey. Why were they forced to wait? Why didn’t God grant them their wishes in their time? Why the wait? Why is God up on the mountain with Moses, but not with them? They had no idea why God called Moses up to His mountain. When the LORD finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18 NLTse).
Israel had no idea the two months journey was a time to learn and a test. They didn’t stop long enough to look at their own condition, their spiritual needs. Even though they saw God’s hand working in their lives for so many months, their faith was still small. Although they were nothing more than slaves a few months ago they convinced themselves freedom was all they needed. Once again Israel decided on a different plan. When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1 NLTse).
Making this god must have taken some planning. The design had to be planned. A mold made. Materials gathered, melted poured, and polished. It was not an easy process. So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.” (Exodus 32:2 NLTse).
This is an interesting point when we compare another text. While God was on the mountain with Moses, He gave him the instructions for a ceremony to perform when a man decides to become a slave by his own free will. But the slave may declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life. (Exodus 21:5-6 NLTse). Once an ear is pierced the only way to keep the hole from closing up is to put an earring in the hole. It seems ironic God uses a hole in the ear, and an earring to symbolize a slave by choice at the same moment Israel is using their earrings to form a new god.
When the calf was complete, Israel celebrated their power over the god they made. God told Moses what was happening and His plans to destroy Israel for their sins and lack of faith. Was God testing Moses, who pleaded with Him to spare the people? It seems ironic. Israel questioned God’s plans and put themselves in a very precarious position. Moses questioned God’s plans and appears to change His mind.
Moses went down the mountain. When he saw the scene, the people he just pleaded with God for, he took the tablets of stone the ten commandments were written on and broke them by throwing them to the ground. He then began to dismantle the god they made. He took the calf they had made and burned it. Then he ground it into powder, threw it into the water, and forced the people to drink it. (Exodus 32:20 NLTse).
Why did Moses to this? After Moses burnt the gold, ground it into powder, he mixed it with the best solvent in the world, water, which naturally absorbs the elements of any substance it contacts. The water turned to a blood red color which the people were forced to drink.
How does this apply to Jesus? This should be an easy question to answer.
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. (Matthew 26:27-28 NLTse)