Exodus 32


Spend time in prayer and silence with God asking him to meet you and speak to you.

Bible Reading

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, 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, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “LORD,” he said, “Why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'”

Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin-but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

(Exodus 32:1-16; 30-32)


Moses was on Mount Sinai communing with God and receiving the Law of the Covenant directly from Him.

The Israelites knew where Moses had gone and why he was there, but after 40 days they grew impatient and decided to take matters into their own hands and fashion their own gods like they had seen in Egypt.

The LORD threatened to wipe them out because of their idolatry and to start over with Moses.

Imagine how that offer could have appealed to Moses’ pride and self-interest if he had allowed it.

However, instead, he immediately pleaded with God to relent and to forgive the Israelites’ sin.

Moses’ passion for God’s holiness, combined with his love for his fellow Israelites is similar to the Apostle Paul’s heart-cry for his people.

Read Romans 9:1-5.

The Big Question

Moses exhibited a deep passion for God’s holiness combined with a deep love for his fellow sinful humans.

How about you – do you see those two characteristics as mutually exclusive or are they related?

How does this affect your relationship with other people who do not yet know God?

Conclude in prayer and silence reflecting on what you’ve learned.