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Leaving God Behind: Our Golden Calves and Our Refusal to Wait | Exodus 32:1-14

Waiting. Most of us hate waiting. It drives us crazy; pushing us to come up with alternatives to the object of our wait or to a different way to getting it. The simplest thing can be exasperating, like waiting anxiously for Uber. But what if we’re waiting on The Lord to do something that is ultimately out of our hands? What if we’re waiting and it looks like He’s not going to ever intervene?

The Israelites paid a high price for not waiting on God. In Exodus 32, Moses was up on top of Mt Sinai with The Lord for quite some time. Apparently so much time had passed, that the Israelites grew so impatient and were set on moving on without Moses…and The Almighty. That’s right: They wanted to leave God behind and shrug off Moses.

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[a] 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.”

 

So what did they do? They did what the flesh always does. And that is to attempt to create quicker, cheaper, yet weaker alternatives. And those alternatives were found in Aaron and in a golden calf which was to be substitute for YHWH.

Exodus 32:2-4 reads,

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,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

 

They quickly forgot about all the things God had done for them: the east wind which parted the sea, the manna, the quail, the water from the rock. It’s as if they corporately said, “Yeah, We’re good…We got this….” But God was not having ANY of it!

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. 10 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.”

 

Moses had to intercede for the Israelites in order for God to relent. But He still was not happy with them. Later on, God will tell Moses that He no longer wants to go to The Promised Land with them, and Moses will have to intercede again.

What can we glean from this? Do not provoke God with impatience. He’s not a God that leaves us behind, so don’t attempt to leave Him behind on your journey. His delay is often times His work-even though we can’t see it. Moses was with God on Mt. Sinai giving him The Law so that the people can move into the Promised Land as a nation unto Him. God will get you to your Promised Land if you will wait on Him to make a way for you.

Are you wanting God to get on with it? Waiting can be like birth pains; wanting desperately for them to be over because of the discomfort. But if you construct an alternative, it will prove to be too weak for the journey. Hold on and let the Lord bring you into your divine destination. For Isaiah 40:31 states,

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The Rev. Dr. Nicole Foster the T.V. Host and founding minister of The Hippie Theologian. She holds a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a Master of Divinity from Redeemer Theological Seminary and a B.A. in History from Southern Methodist University. She’s an ordained Anglican minister and teaches Old Testament for various organizations. She loves to hike, camp, make organic soap, and be a beach bum as often as possible.

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