Aug 3, 2010, 1:34 PM
The above quote were the words the sovereign God, Jehovah, uttered in holy anger to Moses after the Children of Israel had foolishly bowed down to worship a golden calf.
The reason they advanced was that they were not sure of Moses’ whereabouts and that they could wait no longer; they badly needed a god to worship. Habits die hard and sometimes slowly. It is clear from this event that they had stayed too long in Egypt and had been exposed to idol worship. Such entrenched practices do not easily disappear, yet they must give way to the worship of the One, true God, Yahweh. The Children of Israel felt like going back to their roots just after Moses’ 40-day absence to spend time with the Lord on Mount Sinai.
Ever since they left Egypt, they grumbled only regrets. All through their desert journey they complained saying such things as; “What are we to drink?” when there was water shortage. “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death,” when there was no food. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst” (Exodus 17:3b) again when water was not readily available.
It was a terrible sight to which God drew Moses’ attention. “I have seen these people and they are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 32:9) From Mount Sinai, God saw the wickedness of these people. “Go down,” he commanded Moses, “because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf.
They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said: ‘These are your gods, O Israel who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:7-8)
As Moses descended the mountains he could hear loud cheering; in fact Joshua exclaimed: “there is the sound of war in the camp.” (verse 17) However, Moses allayed his fears when he revealed “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.” Imagine how rowdy an alfresco party would have been like not to talk of ‘bal poussiere’ attended by over 600.000 people. Moses beheld the sight – the calf and the dancing - and he could not contain his anger any longer. As his anger burned out of control he flung the two tablets to the ground and they were shattered to pieces.
After his nerves had calmed down and he had investigated from his brother Aaron who crafted the calf, the only response he was able to elicit was; “You know how prone these people are to evil.” (Exodus 32:22)
In today’s world, humankind is prone to all kinds of evil – we are not any different from the Children of Israel when the opportunity presents itself – what with the wanton killing of innocent people, rape, torture, armed robbery, highway robbery, genocide, child abuse, spouse-battering, sects, to name but a few. No sooner we escape surveillance than our hearts conceive more evil. Yet whether publicly or privately nothing of what we do is hidden from God whose eyes are roaming everywhere. (Proverbs 15:3)
The bad news is that we serve a God who is ‘faithful and just.’ While he may forgive our sins, sin cannot go unpunished. God loves the sinner but cannot condone sin. If we do not bear the consequences of our sins ourselves, its repercussions can have far-reaching consequences – ‘to the third and fourth generation.’
Moses pleaded for mercy and threatened to tender his resignation. God was categorical. “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book…..however, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.” ( Exodus 33:33-34)
That day, after Moses rallied ‘whoever is for the Lord,’ and about three thousand people died by the sword. (Exodus 32:28)
It is true we are living under grace and no more under the law. The law condemned, grace is an expression of God’s unconditional love that grants unmerited favour. The Bible teaches that where sin abounds grace will abound also. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1) But grace was not given for sin to increase; grace was given so that we will dispense with sin.
No one could be justified under the law, because no one could fully keep the law without stumbling over it. Grace requires no effort on our part to do what is right. God sees us as perfect beings already through the finished work of his Son Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, thus liberating us from its grips and giving us access to God.
When we receive Jesus we become ‘new creations,’ recreated beings born “not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12) We take on a new nature. Sin ceases to have dominion over us.
Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, is both Judge and Advocate and a day has been set aside when “each of us will give account of himself to God.’(Romans 14:12) We “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Yes, on that fateful day, “All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:32) Would we be among the sheep or the goats?
How we live this life will determine where we will spend eternity. God wants “…all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) - the reason why he sent his Son. “For he who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Come to Jesus, for he says; “…whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)