Day 32 – Exodus 31-33
In the reading for this 32nd day of the Bible Challenge, here in the Diocese of Southeast Florida, we are presented with readings from Exodus 31-33. The appointed selection begins with Moses receiving his final directives from the Lord on how he is to establish the Law that would become the foundation for the people of Israel. The selection ends with Moses ordering the slaughter of those who disobeyed the will of God!
The largest section of this selection from Exodus is Chapter 32. Folk may be familiar with this passage, as this is where the people of Israel coerce Aaron to build them a golden calf. The people found themselves in the wilderness, and their leader had been delayed in returning. They found themselves in a confusing place, and their guide was not with them.
In their anxiety and lack of patience, they commanded Aaron to make a “god” for them to worship. Aaron capitulates, takes gold from the people, and constructs the golden calf. This is just what the people want, and they are in a euphoric state. Aaron is elated that he has quelled the complaints of the people – so pleased with himself that he proclaims the next day to be “a festival to the Lord!”
But this is not what the people need. In the wake of the dancing and feasting of the people, God sends Moses with haste to the people. The Lord is ready to destroy the people for their idolatry. Yet, Moses begs for the people and spares them God’s wrath. Upon seeing the scene firsthand and hearing of Aaron’s capitulation (Ex. 32:19-26), Moses loses his own cool and instructs the Levites to “kill everyone.” Three thousand people died that day.
In analysis of this passage, we find the people seeking a more convenient “truth” than the God of their salvation. With Moses being on Sinai for such a long time, the people felt absent from God. Rather than wait on the Lord, the people took matters into their own hands and literally made God in their own image.
Think: a people who God had made in His own image and who God had liberated and redeemed, endeavored to make God in their own image then attempted to confine and profane God by their desires.
The people were searching for a more convenient “truth.” They wanted a god that would respond to them as their servant. They sought a god who would answer to them and adjust himself to suit their needs.
God, through Moses, had instructed them to wait. They grew tired of waiting on a God that was distant to them. They didn’t see the purpose of waiting on and worshiping the God Who they couldn’t see. They wanted something tangible…a “god” that fit in with their human conceptions.
But their desire isn’t too far from our desire. We ourselves are in a confusing place. And, there exists a crisis in leadership that leaves us fending for ourselves. At times, and we see in Society, we try to create God in our own image. We make God – and the Word of God (i.e. Jesus Christ) – relative and situational. We turn the Unconditional Love into a conditional one…we try to make God more convenient for us to obey or ignore.
This reading reminds us that God IS. And, He expects something from us: obedience. We can create God in our own image if we like. But, we will ultimately only be erasing our names from the Lord’s record (Ex. 32:33).
So, rather than seeking a more convenient truth, let us wait on the Truth! Let us not capitulate to our personal and communal anxieties! Let us exercise control and patience! Let us be obedient to God and to His call upon our lives! May God give us the strength to endure and to stand firm in The Way! Amen.