Faithlife Sermons

The Golden Calf

Exodus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Big Idea

Tension: What did Israel do in spite of the covenant God had graciously made with them?
Resolution: Break the covenant code, the decalogue, by worshipping the golden calf and so corrupting themselves.
Exegetical Idea: Despite the covenant God had graciously made with his people, Israel broke the covenant code, the decalogue, by worshipping the golden calf and so corrupted themselves.
Theological Idea: Despite God’s covenant with humanity, we have corrupted ourselves in sin by breaking his law.
Homiletical Idea: When we break God’s law, we break his covenant with us.


Exposition: Background from cutting the covenant.
10 Commandments
Sealed with Blood
Moses on the Mountain (Moses as Mediator)
Inciting Incident: Israel sees Moses delays. (vs. 1)
Scene 1: Making the Calf (vs. 1-6)
Make us gods to lead us to go before us
“Rings” which bound together social units (vs. 2)
Fashioned it into a golden calf
These are your gods (4): probably reinterpreted Yhwh as one of the cow gods of Egypt. Aaron was effectively leading them back to Egypt.
Made an altar - Cutting a New Covenant
Eat and Drink
“Rose up to Play”
Breaking Commandments 1-10
The making of an idol violated commandments 1-3, 5, 7, 8
“Feast” - Violation of the Sabbath Commandment (4)
“Rose up to Play” commandments 7, 10
Later lying (9) and violence (6)
By breaking these commandments, Israel violated the covenant
Scene 2: Moses Intercession (7-14)
God’s Speech: God is the wronged partner in the covenant
They have corrupted themselves, turned aside quickly, stiff-necked. God identifies the problem: they are hard hearted and stiff-necked. They agreed to something they had no intention of keeping.
My wrath burns hot
I will consume them
Moses’ Speech
Can you hate an instrument of your own glory? (11-12) Positively, God revealed his own glory in revealing them, negatively, the Egyptians will mock you if you destroy them
You made a covenant with this people (13)
Moses is acting as the Covenant mediator
Scene 3: Moses returns (15-20)
Moses is bearing the tablets of the covenant in his hand. God himself had engraved them as a testimony to his covenant with Israel.
Joshua thought that he had heard the sound of war, but Moses knows it is the sound of singing - religious, paganism.
When Moses saw - he broke the tablets. Why? Because it shows what has happened - Israel has broken the covenant.
Moses destroyed the idol and made them eat it. This was a way of showing that it was totally, utterly powerless.
Scene 4: Moses and Aaron (21-24)
Moses asks Aaron why he’s brought such a great sin upon them
Aaron blames the people
Aaron blames Moses
Aaron blames the supernatural
Aaron refuses to take responsibility like Adam and Eve. The hard-heartedness has not changed.
Scene 5: Restoring Order (25-29)
“Let Loose” there is no order. When people think God’s law is optional, then it leads to the most perverse kinds of sin.
This probably implies that people had gotten violent. The violence is not arbitrary. They are putting down the mob violence.
Whoever is on my side - Sin is a matter of loyalty… loyalty to friends, loyalty to family, loyalty to neighbor, loyalty to anyone over God.
Reflecting on Sin
Sin unaddressed leads to destruction: What we can see now clearly from this passage is that the sin patterns of the Israelites went unaddressed. God had tried to wean them off from the idolatry of the Egyptians, God had told them they were hard hearted before, the sad thing about all of this is that it is just the fruit of trees that have been growing for a long time.
Sin is a big problem: Breaking the commandments, breaking the covenant, stiff-neckedness, turning aside (the opposite of repentance), hard heartedness, corruption, idolatry, misplaced loyalty, refusal to take responsibility, sin-sickness. It is a big problem and it makes God very angry.
Yet, we cannot judge them, because the things that make this sin terrible are exactly the same kinds of things that are in our hearts. Sacrificing our families, sacrificing our marriages, using our possessions for our own worship, putting anyone and everything else above God. Stiff-neckedness. Breaking the covenant. We find that given the same opportunity as Aaron and the Israelites, we would have done exactly the same thing.
Breaking God’s Law Breaks God’s Covenant: When we disobey God’s law, when we put other things above God, when we break his Sabbath, when we fail to uphold our family obligations, when we fail to tell the truth and take responsibility, when we fail to control our anger, when we fail to keep God’s law - we are breaking our covenant with God.
Scene 6: Seeking forgiveness (30-35)
Moses goes up to try to make atonement (30)
Honest confession (31)
Forgive their sin or blot me out - Moses offers himself as a sacrifice. He tries to mediate for their sin (32).
Two Words for Salvation - In this passage, we see that there are two words for salvation. There is the word kapher which means to cover up, or to “atone.” To Atone is to provide a covering for sins. And we see the word natsal which is “forgive,” or “lift up.” To forgive is to remove. God must remove our sins and provide a covering. It is clear that Moses as a covenant Mediator is unable to secure these things from God.
God says - whoever has sinned against me I will punish (33). In effect God says - No. No I will not forgive. No, you cannot be an adequate substitute - because Moses himself was a murderer. He could not mediate this covenant.
He says he will keep his covenant to Abraham, but he will not himself go up with them.
He will bring the day of visitation.
God sends the plague as a parable of their sin condition.
God must provide atonement - If Moses cannot provide an atonement that secures forgiveness, then the only one who can provide atonement is God himself. God did provide such an atonement - someone who could do what Moses could not, someone who could offer himself for the sins of his people, and cover up their sins.
Conclusion: So what happens next? You’ll have to come back next week to find out.
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