What a glorious theme it is!
But how does such a beautiful thing go wrong?
How can mankind so misdirect worship that it becomes ...
The Jews of Moses' day, Israelites who at least in word adored
the Lord their God, managed to pollute the Sinai experience and
degrade it into common idolatry!
Let's study how that happened!
The record of Israel's
shameful idolatry is carefully documented in Exodus 32:1-8. This
inspired paragraph of Scripture is a virtual paradigm, a
pattern, of compromise.
Read with me the first
verse: "And 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."
The first weak quality
observed here is impatience. Moses "delayed" to come down from
the Mount! The verb used here, "bush," means "to be ashamed" or
"to be confounded" about 103 of the 109 times it appears in
Scripture. The "root" of the verb means "to pale," hence by
implication, shame or disappointment or delay has gripped a
These people did not trust
the Man of God to go or come as led of the Lord! A low view of
spiritual leadership is evident here! In this case it might have
been the beginning of their downfall.
Another way of looking at
the situation, they were so weak and immature they could not
refrain from sinning without their leader being right by their
side! Folks, the Pastor is not the restraining influence in your
lives! The Holy Spirit of God is! And, even realizing that these
are pre-Pentecost days, still God's Spirit was abundantly
available. These Israelites are standing at the very Mount of
God, at least as near as was safely possible!
Secondly, note how they
settled for secondary leadership! Aaron was NOT God's first
choice to guide and direct the Nation. He was appointed to help
Moses, but only after Moses hesitated and balked on God! See
Exodus 4:14 in its context.
When it comes to the
subject of one's Pastor, the man who will be feeding you God's
Word week by week, do not settle for second best!
I am not saying Aaron was
an evil man. He became Israel's High Priest, the first one! But
here anyway, he was weak!
As the people "gathered
themselves together, "qahal" in Hebrew, they were doing so
without any mandate from God! It is right to meet on the Lord's
Day or to pray or study God's Word. It is not right to meet to
plan the construction of an idol! Friends, be careful what kind
of assemblies you attend!
Furthermore, they did not
convene to hear from God's Man, even Aaron!
They came together to
tell Aaron what to do!
"Up," they yelled! "Qum"
means to rise, immediately! It is an imperative verb here also,
a command being given! I thought the people did not lead the
Preacher, but the Preacher led the congregation! That's the way
it works with real shepherds and sheep anyway!
The demands continue! "Make
us gods." The verb does not mean to create something out of
nothing. Rather, fashioning and crafting and preparing such
things are commanded. That's the meaning of "asah."
And the noun "gods," in
Hebrew "elohiym," is the Same Name as God's, but used in a base
sense. Literally emphasizing its plural quality, gods ...
many of them are implied! False gods, idols, graven images!
These folks have gone from
standing in awe of Almighty God one day ... to rebellious
idolatry the next day!
Soon they ascribe to their
potential though yet un-made gods great power! They undoubtedly
shall "go before us." The verb "go" is "yalak" and means
literally "to walk!" The action here is continuous, on-going
also! "Before us" uses the noun for "face," in Hebrew, "panaiym."
Before our faces! They will focus and delight in and observe
their new gods, giving them the position of honor due only to
the true Lord God Himself!
Then, as I try to close
today, look at what they call their leader now, their real
leader. "This Moses" he is contemptuously termed! No respect! No
honor! He's merely a "man," using "iysh," emphasizing his
frailty and mortality! Even while he is on the Mount communing
with the God of all creation! The Almighty! When such an
attitude develops toward the Preacher, trouble is on the way!
Also it appears they are
perhaps already regretting leaving Egypt. "This man who brought
us up out of the land of Egypt!" Here may be a taste for the
world, a craving for the onions and leeks and garlic and
cucumbers of bygone days! Did you ever notice that all those
things grow either under the dirt on laying on top of it? While
the grapes of Eschol grow in the air, suspended in the heavens!
Leave the world, with all its dirt, behind you!
Finally, their "slide" into
idolatry began partly with their own ignorance. "We wot not,"
they claim. "Wot," an old English verb itself, translates "yada,"
to know in Hebrew. It can mean anything from knowing something
very slightly to being a master of the facts concerning any
given subject, an expert. They did not know Moses' exact
location. Hence, they made themselves the interpreters of their
own situation. They refused to wait on God or His Man!
Such recklessness usually
leads to further and deeper sin.
It certainly did here!
Steps to idolatry.
So far, many of these
traits ... in verse one I mean ... are far too apparent in
Maybe John's last
admonition in his First Epistle is still relevant.
"Little children, keep yourselves from
idols. Amen." 1st John 5:21
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
An old Preacher used to say
that everything rises or falls upon leadership.
Tell me what kind of leaders a nation has, and I will tell you
what direction it's going!
That is true politically ... and spiritually!
Once in Israel's history, early in their history in fact, the
Nation demanded of its leader a terrible thing!
They wanted idols to worship!
And, at one of their lowest points ever, Aaron gave them exactly
what they asked!
Here's today's verse:
"And 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."
Where was Moses?
On top of the Mountain
receiving the Law of God!
In communion with the
In charge was his Brother,
That name, "aharon" in
Hebrew, means "light bringer" according to a major lexicon. If
that's right, we have a terrible abuse of vocabulary here! Aaron
failed to live up to the meaning of his name!
Incidentally, do you know
what your name means?
Are you living a life that
is consistent with a Biblical view of your name?
While I do not want to
disrespect the man who would be the first High Priest of Israel,
I must say that Aaron here failed to stand alone! He did not
enforce what he must have known was right! He yielded to the
"crowds," the popular opinion of the day!
Many Preachers still do the
That's why Church music
today has changed so drastically! And Preaching is shorter and
shorter and more and more shallow! And old fashioned Bible
standards of living are now "out the window!" And why we hear
stupid things like this: "Doctrine doesn't matter! Only love
Oh, how Israel here in
Exodus 32:1-8 needed a man like Elijah, not a man like Aaron!
Can you imagine what would have happened had they asked that
bold and fierce Prophet for an idol to worship? Fire might have
The verb "break off"
translates "paraq," meaning "to tear away" something from its
base. Here also it is framed in the Piel stem, requiring us to
see in it intensive dramatic action!
They are in a hurry ... to
Where did they get that
God, back in Exodus
3:21-22, had promised Israel that He would not allow them to
leave Egypt empty! Each lady was to ask her Egyptian neighbor
for "jewels of silver and jewels of gold and raiment."
Rightly so, the Lord was
allowing Israel to reclaim some back pay, wages which had been
stolen from them for decades! This was not in the least
underhanded! They did not "take" these things! The Lord
apparently touched the hearts of the Egyptians and they gave
But no where are we told
that the Lord wanted this gold and silver and clothing to be
used in any idolatrous situation!
He would have detested that
These people have just
taken God's blessings and perverted them!
Turned them into tools of
As you know, they were
severely judged for such wickedness.
But, wait a minute!
That's one of the classic
Bible definitions for sin!
In Hebrew, "avon,"
pronounced aw-vone', is one of Scripture's main words for sin or
iniquity. It is derived from a root verb, "avah," which means
"to bend, to make crooked or to pervert" something! To twist it
from its original shape! To warp its primary shape!
That's what Israel just did
with those gold pieces of jewelry!
God meant that gold and
silver to help build the Tabernacle, which plans Moses was
receiving that very moment from the Lord!
But Aaron, pushed by the
Jews, "twisted" God's Plan ... into an idolatrous scheme!
Is that not what America is
Divorce is not God's
Nor are homosexuality or
lesbianism or prostitution or a whole list of other new
We have violated God's
That noun for "earrings" is
"nexem." It means "jewels" of various kinds, but in the King
James Bible is primarily translated "earrings," in 14 of its 17
appearances. The first time the word is used in Scripture God is
helping Abraham's servant procure a Bride for Isaac, Genesis
24:22. Again, perversion is indicated here!
What a sad event we have
And ... did the people do
what Aaron asked?
all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their
ears, and brought them unto Aaron." Exodus 32:3
For a People who were so
seldom in complete harmony, Israel here set a record! One
hundred percent ... "all" the people participated according to
our Text! "Kol" means "the whole" of any given entity!
Folks, the majority are not
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
God can be hurt!
Not necessarily by the Devil. Jesus defeated Him a long time
Not by sin either!
God can be hurt by His Own people!
This is easy to prove if you believe that the Holy Spirit is
divine, a member of the Godhead.
Paul commands us to "grieve not the Holy
Spirit of God." Ephesians 4:30
That verb "grieve" is "lupeo"
in Greek and means to make someone sorrowful! To cause Someone
hurt or pain!
And do remember that Jesus
wept while on this earth. Once specifically at the grave of His
friend Lazarus. See John 11:30.
Now to today's verse,
Something there happened
that undoubtedly "hurt" Almighty God!
The Jews, much too soon
after leaving Egypt, fell into sin.
Demanding a visible god,
Israel fell into idolatry.
And Aaron, their future
High Priest, cooperated with their rebellion. The Israelites,
having much gold in the form of earrings and such, gave them to
Aaron. "And 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." Exodus 32:4
Aaron is not an innocent
bystander here. The verb "received" translates "laqach" in
Hebrew and often carries the idea of seizing an item! To lay
hold of it!
The verb "fashioned" is "tzsur"
and implies that some kind of a mold was employed in the making
of this idol! To bind or besiege or cramp is the idea.
One's "graving tool" is
simply a chisel or stylus used to shape and smooth the
monstrosity they were making! It's "cheret" for those who want
to study further.
The word "molten" is "massekah"
and means something that is poured. The metals were melted and
allowed to trickle into a form of some kind.
And "calf," in Hebrew "egel,"
means just what it says. Also it is occasionally used to depict
an ox in the Old Testament.
Now, here comes the insult
to the Lord!
thy gods, O Israel."
The little noun "gods" is
represented by "elohiym" and is one of our Righteous God's valid
and beautiful Names!
And the very thought of
ascribing to idols, man-shaped pieces of wood or stone, the
glorious Name of God is sickening. "Israel," the Name, means
"ruled by God" or "princed by God!" That does not sound like an
idolater at all!
Next, to their dead
powerless gods they ascribe deliverance! They
"brought thee up out of the out of the
land of Egypt."
The verb "to bring up"
suggests power and discernment and love! Chunks of rock or wood,
dead idols, just do not possess much of any of these qualities!
God Himself, not some
man-made deity, delivered His people, via bloodshed!
Ascribing to the devil the
works of Almighty God!
That's what Israel has just
done. It cost her a generation of her wisest and best men!
And it grieved her God, Who
loved her to the end! See John 13:1.
Lord, help us to worship
And to live our lives to
help Thy Cause, not hurt it!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
It's called compromise.
And today's verse is a prime example!
The Israelites had lost hope in Moses their leader.
He was gone and perhaps would never return, so they thought.
They needed a god.
So a god they built, an idol!
It was fashioned as a
golden calf or bull.
Now any way you interpret
it, that thing was a violation of the Law of God.
But Aaron, always creative,
had some ideas.
Here's what he did
concerning the new god. "And when Aaron
saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made
proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord."
True, we have a heathen
idol in the Camp.
But let's spiritualize it!
Let's place some holy
things around it!
The verb "raah" tells us
that Aaron looked at the thing for a while! Maybe it was
aesthetically appealing to him! Beautiful!
Like stained glass windows
or tall steeples or robed choirs and preachers or maybe even
wine in goblets.
His meditation evolved into
Aaron was so good at
Not only idols mind you!
Some preachers are real
builders, for sure!
The verb "built" is "banah"
and also implies that quite some time was involved in the
project. Probably a dirt altar would not have been sufficient.
Only Jehovah would be pleased with such simplicity! See Exodus
"Altar," in Hebrew "mizbeach,"
comes from the verb "zabach" which means "to slaughter" an
animal, usually in sacrifice.
"Before it" translates "paniym,"
Now the idol is
The noun for "tomorrow,"
which is "machar," means "the time to come," hence ... tomorrow.
Aaron planned for this golden calf thing to last a while!
A "feast" or "chag"
involved festival of some kind, again usually religious. It
apparently would have involved sacrifice too. This is the word
that's elsewhere used for the Feast Days of God Himself.
Like Passover and
Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles!
Do you see what is
A completely heathen
activity is being clothed with some religious garments! That
makes it more acceptable to many!
Like bringing an ungodly
rock music "beat" into the Church ... just adding a few
"religious" words to it! Eventually more and more people will
accept it, the devil reasons!
One heathen idol!
One religious altar!
A Holy Day, modeled like
those in Leviticus 23.
Some blood sacrifice!
And ... there, you have it!
A religious experience!
Yes, but such mockery is
This is a mixing of many
religious doctrines and theories and practices into a
conglomeration of belief!
A little bit of this and a
small serving of that ... until the monster is built!
And, Brothers and Sisters,
such is happening in Churches today all across the Land!
Aaron might have been right
at home yet in our time!
Steps to idolatry, that's
what I am calling this series of Bible Lessons.
And Exodus 32 lists this
"compromise" business as a man avenue to idolatry!
Lord, spare us!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The mixing of the religious and the worldly!
And today's verse gives us a classic example.
Speaking of the Nation of Israel, even while Moses their leader
was on the Holy Mount receiving the Law of God, Exodus 32:6
relates: "And 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."
The Jews had just, under
Aaron's watchcare, fashioned an idol!
Now they will celebrate!
Often Scripture has godly
men "rise up early," in Hebrew "shakam," to pray or worship God.
Abraham did so in Genesis 19:27 for example. So did Jacob and
Moses and Joshua and a host of others!
"Burnt offerings" are
sacrifices to God that emphasize a particular aspect of Jesus'
Death. While the exact procedures of such offerings may not have
been technically precise here, before the giving of the Law,
still an innocent animal would have given his all in
death. In the burnt offering basically every part of the
creature is consumed. Jesus gave His all for us too!
The Hebrew word for "burnt
offerings" is "olah," which means "going upward!" Ascending!
Like a stairway or a set of steps! It likely pictures the smoke
and aroma of the animal floating heavenward, toward the Lord.
This act of worship, when
performed reverently and seriously, could have great spiritual
Then Israel brought ("nagash"
in Hebrew ... to draw near or approach) before the Lord "peace
offerings." The noun "shelem," kin to "shalom" obviously,
represents well-being and harmony and blessing and even victory.
The peace offering is certainly one of the high points of Old
Testament worship. In it an animal was slain, but the parts of
his body were shared by the Lord Himself and the priest on duty
and the offending Israelite as well!
Everyone had a share of
meat, in fellowship with one another!
In reality we again see the
Cross of Christ! At Calvary the Death of Jesus pleased the
Father ... and the Great High Priest Himself ... and each of us
repenting sinners! We all have benefited from the shed Blood of
the Lamb of God!
What spiritual gravity we
But then ...
Israel ruins it all!
She, along with her eating,
also drinks. This word, "shathah," is represented in the King
James Bible by the word "drunkards" once. In this context I
believe we are being prepared for a "party" atmosphere.
This is not spiritual
eating and drinking as one does at the Lord's Supper, at
This is something much
lighter ... and carnal!
They next "rose up to
This particular verb "qum,"
can mean to arise in a hostile sense! To stand in defiance!
The infinitive "to play"
translates "tzsachaq" and means to laugh, to mock, to make
sport, or to toy with something! This verbal unit is in the Piel
stem also, denoting intensive action! They played hard,
If you want further data to
support this sensual gathering, read verse 25 of our chapter,
Exodus 32. There we are told that the people were "naked" when
Moses came down the Mountain with the Law of God! And yes, "para"
means uncovered or bare.
Yet these are the steps
that led to idolatry and always continue freely in its presence!
I see this "spirit" in our
A strange mixture of
so-called worship right beside near nakedness and bold
Church has become for many
a place of entertainment!
Some places have more
parties than they do prayer meetings!
More eating and drinking
Such worldly behavior
invites God's judgment!
God's chastening Hand!
Pursue God with all your
heart. Worship Him deliberately and fervently. But the partying
and the drinking, "let it not once be named among you!" The
quote here is from Paul in Ephesians 5:3.
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Moses was not omniscient.
He did not know "everything." Today's Verse proves that!
But the Lord, He is omniscient!
Like Isaiah asks, who has ever taught the Lord anything? He has
no need of a counsellor! The Spirit of the Lord needs no
direction! Isaiah 40:13 is my source here.
Today we are privy to a conversation between the Lord and Moses.
This is just a few words of what must have been a forty day
commentary by Almighty God!
Few men have ever conversed
with God to that extent. Later, in Numbers 12:8, the Lord tells
several people that Moses, unlike others, has spoken with God
"mouth to mouth." Not in dark speeches either! The Lawgiver has
indeed seen the Glory and the Goodness of Jehovah God!
Let's get more specific.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get
thee down, for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land
of Egypt, have corrupted themselves." Exodus 32:7
Here God knew what Moses
The Piel verb "said," in
Hebrew "dabar," expressly placed here by the Holy Spirit, tells
us that the words of the Lord, His speech, was intense!
This is Jehovah God again.
The verb "go" is an
imperative, a command, and is spelled "yalak." It means to go in
this sense, to walk. That was Moses' only means of
"Get thee down" is just one
Hebrew word, "yarad." It's another imperative also. It just
means to descend, as in walking down the Mount.
The noun "people," in
Hebrew "am," is a more intimate word than some of its synonyms.
It suggests kinship, closeness. Notice here that the people
belong to Moses now! God is about to disown them it appears,
"Broughtest" translates "alah"
and means going from a lower point to a higher one, ascending.
This "causative" verb pictures "point" action, "punctiliar" the
teachers call it. This deed was already complete when God spoke
that day. Egypt was far behind! The Lord here even has Moses
doing the leading! Surely genuinely godly people would not be
behaving as the Jews were then!
Thou, Moses, broughtest
them up from Egypt!
"Land" is "eretzs" and
means anything from "ground to earth to country to fields to
nations." It is translated each of these ways in the King James
And "Egypt," in one form or
another, is found nearly 700 times in Scripture!
But now we come to a "key"
word. What does it mean to "corrupt" oneself? "Shachath" means
to mar or spoil or waste or batter or even destroy! Here it
obviously is reflexive. The Jews have done this to themselves.
God certainly did not corrupt them!
And again we have a Piel
verb. Very intensive and absolutely intentional activity is
being described! They really corrupted themselves, with
In Lamentations 2:5 God
acts this fervently! Due to Judah's chronic rebellion and
stubbornness, God intensively ("shachath") deals with her! He
"destroys" her strong holds or fortifications, again according
to the King James Text.
Biblically, the first time
"shachath" is used in any form is Genesis 6:11, concerning the
Flood! The earth was "corrupt" before God and filled with
God's people, the
Israelites, have apparently reverted to the ways of the world,
the antediluvian world!
This sinful condition
Atonement must be made!
For, after all, the wages
of sin is "death!"
Again today, as in hundreds
of Bible Texts, we see the need for a Saviour!
And, praise the dear Lord,
One has come!
Thank God for Calvary ...
and the Resurrection!
The Blood of Jesus washes
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
more note ... I do not usually do this. As I was studying
further into today's Verse, I noticed something graphic. I told
you already that the verb for "corrupt" is "shachath" and means,
among other things, "to batter," in the sense of weakening or
destroying something. I specifically wanted to find that lone
reference for "battering." Here it is! Second Samuel 20:15
describes a war scene, an insurrection!
"And all the people that were with Joab battered the wall
(of the offending city) ... to throw it down!" See! A
good "word picture" for what sin does to a Believer is this. It
weakens our walls of defense! It causes crumbling at first,
cracking if continued and a breach if allowed to persist without
opposition! Song of Solomon 8:9 does indeed compare a godly
young lady to a "wall" of separation! Not to a "door" of
opportunity! Too many Christians are "doors" to the world rather
than "walls" restraining it!
The Bible is God's Word!
And I do not mean that as a vague generalized statement.
Precisely, specifically, the Bible is God's Word!
In fact, today's verse in its entirety quotes Almighty God.
Concerning Israel, the Lord
told Moses: "They 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, I Israel, which have
brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Exodus 32:8
Actually verse eight
reviews the events of verses one through seven, giving an
encapsulated Divine summary.
To "turn aside" is in
Hebrew "shur." It, a basic verb, means "to turn" in a number of
ways. It often in Scripture describes an individual or a group
turning to God in repentance! But not here. However, its most
common rendering in the King James Bible, 97 times, is "to put
away" or "to take away," depending on its syntax and context.
For example, the first Bible instance of "shur" is Genesis 8:12
where Noah, after the Flood, "removed" the covering of the Ark.
These people have sought to
remove God from their lives!
God adds an adverb to the
mix here! "Already" they have forsaken the Lord! "Maher" means
"quickly or speedily or even hastily." It can also on occasion
mean "at once." God is amazed at the lack of faithfulness here!
Later, in Mark 6:6, Jesus still "marvelled" at the unbelief He
found in certain places!
The noun "way" is "derek,"
a road or path.
To "command" is to charge
or give orders! Five times in the King James Text "tzsavah" is
also rendered "to appoint." Here's a Piel perfect verb! God
intensely commanded this kind of behavior!
Our God is a jealous Lord,
too! Yet righteously so!
He cannot and will not
compete with a bunch of idols! Hear the "hurt" in His Voice as
he recounts this "molten calf" incident.
The Jews "made" their own
god! "Asah" means to tool or fashion or fabricate such a thing!
Then they "worshipped" it!
"Shachah" means to "bow down" before something or someone, to
reverence it! Remember that Jesus once told the Devil, face to
face, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy
God, and Him alone shalt thou serve." Matthew 4:10.
But on top of all this, the
building of a god and their worshipping such a dead thing, they
"sacrificed" to it as well! Blood gets God's attention! The
"sacrifice" here, using the word "zabach," means to slaughter or
slay or kill! It is an aggressive word! And of course, the blood
of even an innocent animal, when pledged to a false god, can do
absolutely nothing about one's sins! Israel has just taken that
which is holy and cast it unto swine!
Yet one more astounding
thing is to be seen. God remembers the very words Israel spoke
in her backsliding! "These be thy gods, O
Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."
Maybe we have just been taught that the Lord, when judging His
people, might just quote their own words back to them!
"By thy words thou shalt be justified and
by thy words thou shalt be condemned," spoke Jesus in
Look at the contradiction
in their speech! They identify with idols of gold, attributing
to them power and protection, while still bearing the name
"Israel!" And as you know, "Israel" means "God is my Prince, my
Some say that all the Jews
tried to do here was substitute a visible something, a chunk of
wood or stone or precious metal, for the invisible God they
I think not, but even if
so, God is greatly displeased still!
He counts their actions
sinful and polluting and idolatrous!
And He is grieved!
Yes, sin hurts most of all
the Lord Whom we love!
Believers are to walk in
"paths of righteousness" for many
reasons, but the main one is "for His
Name's Sake!" So says David in Psalm 23:3.
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The once unknown phrase
"American Idol" has certainly become popular!
And no one seems to object!
Yet God still says,
"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." And
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven
image." Exodus 20:3-4
"Worship," the verb, has
been so cheapened today that it is wrongly used in secular
conversation. For example, "He worships the ground on which she