Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part II: God's Sustainment Of Israel In The Wilderness Wanderings Amid Humanly Hopeless Trials
N. Learning To Trust In The Unseen God And Heed His Word
(Exodus 32:1-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. Hebrews 11:6 calls believers to believe that God exists, and that He will reward those who seek Him.
    2. That is not easy to do for the believer who has always been able to rest on the faith of some other stronger Christian; however, God wants us ourselves to trust in Him, the unseen God, and to heed His Word:
  2. Learning To Trust In The Unseen God By Heeding His Word, Exodus 32:1-14.
    1. From the Exodus until Moses ascended Mount Sinai, the people of Israel had seen Moses as the example of faith in God that they could follow and find God's blessing in thus following, Ex. 4:29-31; 5:1-19:20.
    2. However, it took forty days and nights for God to give Moses the Law and the tabernacle instructions on the mount (Exodus 24:18), so Israel was without her human leader in Moses for over six weeks.
    3. Since they had relied on Moses and not on the unseen Lord, though they could still see the expression of God's glory in the cloud on the mount (Exodus 19:16, 20), the people turned to their second leader Aaron, to ask him to make visible gods for them to follow in order to fill their vacuum of unsettling insecurity:
      1. With Moses away for 40 days, the people turned to his spokesman, Aaron, for help, Ex. 32:1a; 4:14-16.
      2. In doing so, they asked Aaron to make them gods they could visibly see, Exodus 32:1b.
      3. The reason for this request was the absence of the former visible Moses and their lack of faith in the unseen God; they feared Moses was dead, and their resulting insecurity needed to be filled, Ex. 32:1c.
    4. Aaron responded by mixing God's truth with error to please the insecure people, Exodus 32:2-5:
      1. Aaron asked the people of Israel to break off their golden earrings, and to bring them to him, Ex. 32:2.
      2. When they obeyed, Aaron melted the earrings together, took an engraving tool and from the cooling gold metal fashioned a calf, Exodus 32:3-4a. This animal recalled the idols of Egypt that the people knew so well, cf. Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978 ed., ftn. to Exodus 32:4.
      3. However, instead of yielding to pure idolatry that he knew from his past experiences with Moses would be wrong, Aaron created a syncretism: he announced the image plus the unseen God Who had been taught to them by Moses were the gods that together had brought them out of Egypt, Exodus 32:4c:
        1. Aaron's extensive involvement with Moses in performing miracles in Egypt that critiqued the many false gods of Egypt would not have let him believing the calf was the God of Israel's exodus.
        2. So, to satisfy the people, instead of urging them to trust the unseen God, Aaron paired the calf with the true, unseen God, saying both had saved them out of Egypt, Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 155.
        3. Accordingly, Aaron introduced a syncretism to put the people at ease for their insecurity Ex. 32:5.
    5. With insecurity needs of the people being thus met, they began to mix the true sacrifices of God with pagan immoral cult worship practices to worship this visible golden calf, Exodus 32:6.
    6. God opposed this syncretism as idolatry, telling Moses of it, and asking him to let Him alone that He might kill Israel and from Moses make another great nation, Ex. 32:7-10. This was a gracious effort on God's part to give Moses an opportunity to intercede for Israel that He might not have to destroy her.
    7. Moses appropriately pleaded with God to relent of this plan on three grounds: (1) "God Himself had chosen Israel (v. 11); (2) God's name must be vindicated (v. 12) [before the Egyptians who had seen God deliver Israel from their land]; (3) God had made promises in the Abrahamic Covenant that could not be fulfilled if Israel were destroyed," Ibid., Ryrie, ftn. to Exodus 32:11-13.
    8. God heeded Moses' intercession, and graciously relented of His expressed desire to destroy Israel, 32:14.
Lesson: For failing to trust and heed the UNSEEN Lord as they leaned on their VISIBLE LEADER, MOSES, once Moses delayed to come down from the mount for forty days, Israel quickly slipped into idolatry, and escaped God's judgment only by Moses' intercession and God's great grace.

Application: (1) May we trust and heed the UNSEEN God rather than rely on OTHER VISIBLE SPIRITUALLY STRONG BELIEVERS for our vitality, and that by heeding SCRIPTURE in faith and practice! (2) If we currently rely on other strong believers for our vitality, may we quickly SHIFT to GOD! (3) May we tell others who lean on US to lean on the UNSEEN GOD of Scripture INSTEAD!