Dave Burnette's Commentary

Exodus Chapter 32 

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: The Record of God's Deliverance of Israel (c 1-40)
Theme: Israel at Sinai (c 19-40)
Message: Breaking the Law (v 1-35)

Exodus 32 Commentary

(32:1-10) The Golden Calf - Idols again! Even though the Israelites had seen the invisible God in action, they still wanted the familiar gods they could see and shape into whatever image they desired. How much like them we are! Our great temptation is still to shape God to our liking, to make him convenient to obey or ignore. God responds in great anger when his mercy is trampled on. The gods we create blind us to the love our loving God wants to shower on us. God cannot work in us when we elevate anyone or anything above him. What false gods in your life are preventing the true God from living in you?

(32:1-4) Aaron Faces Peer Pressure - Aaron gave in to the demands of the people. He did not defend Moses, remain faithful to God, or protect the people and do what was best for them. He crumbled under pressure. We can get a crowd behind us in two ways. One is to give them what they want. The other is to help them see what they really need. All believers in leadership positions will face times of enormous pressure to compromise their integrity and spiritual convictions. Two ways to avoid caving in are to encourage followers to be patient and, during those waiting times, to reflect on their ultimate purpose: honoring God wholeheartedly.

(32:4-5) Israel Disobeys God - Two popular Egyptian gods, Hapi and Hathor, were thought of as a bull and a heifer. The Canaanites who lived in the Promised Land worshiped Baal, thought of as a bull. Baal was their sacred symbol of power and fertility and was closely connected to immoral sexual practices. No doubt the Israelites, fresh from Egypt, found it quite natural to make a gold calf to represent the God who had just delivered them from their oppressors. They may have even thought they were worshiping God himself. In any case, they were weary of a god without a face. But in doing this, they were ignoring the command God had just given them: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" (20:4). Their apparent sincerity was no substitute for obedience or excuse for disobedience. Even if we do not make idols, we are often guilty of trying to make God in our image, molding him to fit our expectations, desires, and circumstances. When we do this, we end up elevating ourselves rather than the God who created us-and self-worship today, just as in the Israelites' time, leads to all kinds of immorality. What is your concept, or image, of God? Is it biblical? Is it adequate? Do you need to destroy that image in order to worship the immeasurably powerful God who delivered you from bondage to sin?

(32:9-14) Moses Pleads for Mercy -  God was ready to destroy the whole nation because of their sin. But Moses pleaded for mercy, and God spared them. This is one of the countless examples in the Bible of God's mercy. Although we deserve his anger, he is willing to forgive and restore us to himself. We can receive God's forgiveness from sin by asking him for it. Also, like Moses, we can pray that he will forgive others and use us to bring them the message of his mercy.

(32:14) God Shows Mercy -  In what way could God "repent," or change his mind? God did not change his mind in the same way that a parent decides not to discipline a child. Instead, God changed his behavior to remain consistent with his nature in a changed situation. When God first wanted to destroy the people, he was acting consistently with his justice against his unrepentant people. When Moses interceded for the people, God "changed" in order to act consistently with his mercy, which he often grants even to those who don't deserve it. God had often told the people that if they changed their ways, he would not condemn them. In this case, they hadn't changed their ways, and yet God still showed mercy and decided to withhold his punishment for the time being. So often we deserve God's punishment for our sinful actions, and yet we receive his mercy instead.

(32:19-20) A Righteous Anger -  Outraged by the actual sight of the blatant idolatry and revelry, Moses broke the stone tablets containing the commandments that had already been broken in the hearts and actions of the people. There is a place for righteous anger. However angry Moses might have been, God was angrier still--he wanted to kill all the people. Anger at sin is a sign of spiritual vitality. Don't squelch this kind of anger. But when you are justifiably angry at sin, be careful not to do anything that you will regret later.

(32:21-24) Aaron is Shown Mercy - Aaron's decision nearly cost him his life. His absurd excuse shows the spiritual decline in his leadership and in the people. Those who are in positions of leadership need to be doubly sure their theology and morality are in tune with God so they will not be influenced by pressure from people. And when leaders do make mistakes or commit sins, they should confess openly and truthfully. 

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Wait on the Lord

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Exodus with Chapter 32 and in today's text we see the familiar story of the Golden Calf being made as Moses was receiving the 10 Commandments. Three thousand men died from this action because they did not wait on the Lord. They became impatient as the Lord was working in their lives although the Lord was working a plan for them on the mount. They did first hand witness the Exodus from Pharaoh and the miracles but when their patience ran out they decided to make a "new god" which led to their destruction. In making application I see this happen today. People get saved and the Lord performs miracles in their lives freeing them from sin and delivering them from their "Egypt" (which is type of the world). Then the Lord starts to work in their lives but they don't see Him working so they do as many Israelite's did, they make themselves a "new god" turning from their faith which ultimately destroys their lives. If they would only wait and have faith in God then they would receive God's best. How about you? Are you in a situation of waiting? Let us learn from today's text and wait for what God is working on in our lives and don't be deceived in making other gods.


Exodus 32

Exodus 32

 1And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

 2And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

 3And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.

 4And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

 5And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

 6And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

 7And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

 8They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

 9And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

 10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

 11And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

 12Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

 14And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

 15And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

 16And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

 17And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.

 18And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

 19And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

 20And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

 21And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?

 22And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.

 23For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

 24And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

 25And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)

 26Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

 27And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

 28And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

 29For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

 30And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

 31And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

 32Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

 33And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

 34Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

 35And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.