Last time we left Moses, he had been on the mountaintop with God for 40 days. The Israelites got impatient waiting for him and approached Moses’ brother Aaron with a request to make them a new god out of their gold earrings. God told Moses to go back down the mountain because God knew what the people were doing. God sees everything.
"I am so angry with those people right now!” God said. “I delivered them from slavery and I led them through the desert. I fed them when they were hungry and gave them something to drink when they were thirsty! Now I feel like destroying them all and starting over. I could make a great nation out of you Moses.”
“I will spare them because you asked me to spare them.” God replied. “But there will be punishment."
Don’t you wish that you could talk with God? You can! That is what prayer is. Prayer IS talking to God. We don’t have to memorize and recite what someone else wrote down. God wants to hear our thoughts. And you can pray anywhere, not just kneeling by your bed or at the dinner table. God always hears you! God loves when we talk/pray with Him.
Moses took the Ten Commandments which God had written on two stone tablets with his finger, and headed back down the mountain. Half way down he joined up with Joshua who had waited that whole time for Moses to return. Wow! He was so patient. Not like the rest of the people.
As Moses and Joshua descended the mountain together, they began to hear some noise. “It sounds like the rumbling of war.” Joshua said.
“No.” Replied Moses. “It’s not the sound of battle being won or lost. It is the sound of a celebration.”
As they neared the foot of the mountain, Moses could see all the people dancing around. And in the middle of the celebration was the golden calf! Moses was so angry that he raised the two tablet of stone on which were written the commandments above hid head and smashed them at the base of the mountain. He knocked the golden calf into the fire and melted it down. Then he went over to his brother Aaron.
"What is the matter with you?” Moses asked. “How could the people convince you to do something so wrong in the eyes of God?”
Did Aaron really think that Moses was that stupid? Aaron let his fear of the people get into the way of his obedience to God. Sometimes we worry more about what other people will think than what God thinks. Sometimes we put more trust in pleasing people, than we do in God’s protection.
“You have let the people get completely out of control.” Moses scolded his brother. “Tomorrow I will call a meeting of all the people who are truly sorry for what has happened here.”
The next day, Moses gathered all the people. “I will go back up the mountain and maybe I can obtain forgiveness from God for you.” The people were ashamed about how they had behaved.
So Moses went back up the mountain, again. When He approached God, Moses said that he would take the punishment for all the people if God would just forgive them. Does this sound familiar? Jesus took our punishment. He could do that because He was sinless. Moses however was not. God said.
“I will forgive the people but you will not take the punishment. I will send a plague into the camp. Some will get sick and some will die. Then you will lead the remaining people into the promised land that I had promised. I will not go with you though. I will send an angel to lead you.
So a plague went throughout camp. Some people died. Then it came time to leave again for the promised land. Moses told the people how God would not be doing the leading from now on because He was so angry with them, but that an angel would be doing the leading. The people were very afraid that they would not have God as their guide. As a sign of repentance (Being sorry) none of them wore any more jewelry for the rest of their journey.
So this week we can learn lessons from four different people.
1. From Moses we know that talking with God is praying. We can pray and where, any time. God hears us. (Phil 4:6)
2. From Joshua we learned to be patient waiting on God. We will see in future stories how God used Joshua in amazing ways. (James 5:7)
3. From Aaron we learned that when it comes to pleasing men or pleasing God, God always comes first. (Gal 1:10)
4. From the impatient people we see that disobeying God has consequences. (1Corinth 6:9)