The Israelites had been delivered from a land that like other peoples worshipped idols instead of the true God. Since Moses had been gone for several weeks, they supposed that he was not returning. Therefore, they asked Aaron to make them gods that they could worship. Everyone today, worships something—whether God, idol images, family, celebrities, pleasures or any number of items that can come instead of God.
Upon seeing His people worshipping the golden calf that Aaron had formed from their gold, God determined to destroy them for breaking their covenant with Him. He would make of Moses a great nation.
Moses interceded for the Israelites and God spared them. However, Moses was so angry upon seeing the behavior of the people, that he threw the two stone tablets to the ground and broke them. Moses, with God’s support, burned the golden calf and ground it into a powder. He then scattered it over their drinking water and made them drink it.
People until now have made feeble excuses for their behavior—even since Eve first said that the serpent caused her to eat of the forbidden fruit. Aaron, when confronted by his brother stated that the people caused him to take their gold, “and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”
Are we on the Lord’s side? When Moses asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side,” only the tribe of Levi stepped forward. The slaughter that followed killed about three thousand men, probably the leaders of the rebellion against God.
Moses has been referred to as a type of Christ. One can see this similarity in that he asked God to blot his name out of the book (of Life) if He would not forgive the Israelites of their sin. God informed Moses that He would decide who would be blotted out of the book (“Whoever has sinned against Me”). Moses was then told to get back to work and lead the people to the Promised Land.
“So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.”