God has saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He has faithfully led them through the wilderness and provided for their every need. He has created a plan to reside among them in the tabernacle.
All He wants is for them to be His people and for Him to be their God.
Chapters 20-31 focus on the instructions that form the covenant God will enter with Israel. God is speaking with Moses at the top of Mount Sinai, and here He gives rules that Israel must follow to be holy. He gives instructions on how to set up the tabernacle so He can reside among His people.
Israel is done waiting around for Moses to come down from the mountain, though. So they take matters into their own hands.
In the very first verse of Exodus 32, their impatience spurs them to action:
“When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt–we don’t know what has happened to him!'” (Exodus 32:1)
When Moses, a real person they could see who was God’s spokesperson for them, went missing, Israel could not handle placing their faith in an invisible God. So instead, they gave Aaron every piece of gold they had, and Aaron made this into the image of a calf.
The gold that God has just instructed Moses to use for building the furniture of the tabernacle . . . was now a golden idol.
The person who God had called to be His priest over the tabernacle . . . was now a priest to a golden calf.
Of course, God was upset about this. He tells Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly.” (Exodus 32:7)
Not only is this almost a direct echo of Israel’s claim in verse 1 that Moses had been the one to deliver them from Egypt and not God, it mirrors that phrase one parent tells the other when their child has disappointed them: “Look at what your kid did.”
Not ours. Yours.
Not God’s. Moses’s.
Even though Moses speaks on behalf of Israel following God’s reaction, I think it is important to note that God knew this was going to happen before He started giving Moses instructions. He knew this was going to happen before He even brought Israel out of Egypt, and even before He brought Israel the person (Jacob) to Egypt 400 years earlier.
But God still instructed Moses. He still wanted a space among His people. Still wanted them to be holy so He could have a relationship with them.
If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
And even though the covenant between God and Israel is interrupted with the formation of that golden calf . . . even though the covenant is smashed as Moses angrily flings the stone tablets with God’s own handwriting to the ground . . . even though the covenant is now stained with Israel’s disloyalty . . .
. . . the covenant will continue.
God still led Israel to the Promised Land, even if it took longer and those who were originally promised to see it would have to forfeit this privilege to their children. God’s love and grace continues on. Your sin cannot separate you from God.
So whatever you are going through today, and whatever interruption you feel is putting a damper on your relationship with God . . . just know whether the interruption is in the form of a golden calf or something else, God will not abandon you.
He still wants to have a relationship with you! He still wants to show you His love and grace, still wants to reside among your heart, no matter how broken or disloyal it is.
The question is . . . will You let him?