“Make Gods for Us” 32 1When the people realized that Moses was taking forever in coming down off the mountain, they rallied around Aaron and said, “Do something. Make gods for us who will lead us. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt—who knows what’s happened to him?” 2So Aaron told them, “Take off the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters and bring them to me.” 3They all did it; they removed the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4He took the gold from their hands and cast it in the form of a calf, shaping it with an engraving tool. The people responded with enthusiasm: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from Egypt!” 5Aaron, taking in the situation, built an altar before the calf. Aaron then announced, “Tomorrow is a feast day to God!” 6Early the next morning, the people got up and offered Whole–Burnt–Offerings and brought Peace–Offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink and then began to party. It turned into a wild party! 7God spoke to Moses, “Go! Get down there! Your people whom you brought up from the land of Egypt have fallen to pieces. 8In no time at all they’ve turned away from the way I commanded them: They made a molten calf and worshiped it. They’ve sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are the gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ ” 9God said to Moses, “I look at this people—oh! what a stubborn, hard–headed people! 10Let me alone now, give my anger free reign to burst into flames and incinerate them. But I’ll make a great nation out of you.” 11Moses tried to calm his God down. He said, “Why, God, would you lose your temper with your people? Why, you brought them out of Egypt in a tremendous demonstration of power and strength. 12Why let the Egyptians say, ‘He had it in for them—he brought them out so he could kill them in the mountains, wipe them right off the face of the Earth.’ Stop your anger. Think twice about bringing evil against your people! 13Think of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants to whom you gave your word, telling them ‘I will give you many children, as many as the stars in the sky, and I’ll give this land to your children as their land forever.’ ” 14And God did think twice. He decided not to do the evil he had threatened against his people. 15Moses turned around and came down from the mountain, carrying the two tablets of The Testimony. The tablets were written on both sides, front and back. 16God made the tablets and God wrote the tablets—engraved them. 17When Joshua heard the sound of the people shouting noisily, he said to Moses, “That’s the sound of war in the camp!” 18But Moses said, Those aren’t songs of victory, And those aren’t songs of defeat, I hear songs of people throwing a party. 19And that’s what it was. When Moses came near to the camp and saw the calf and the people dancing, his anger flared. He threw down the tablets and smashed them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20He took the calf that they had made, melted it down with fire, pulverized it to powder, then scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. 21Moses said to Aaron, “What on Earth did these people ever do to you that you involved them in this huge sin?” 22Aaron said, “Master, don’t be angry. You know this people and how set on evil they are. 23They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will lead us. This Moses, the man who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what’s happened to him.’ 24“So I said, ‘Who has gold?’ And they took off their jewelry and gave it to me. I threw it in the fire and out came this calf.” 25Moses saw that the people were simply running wild—Aaron had let them run wild, disgracing themselves before their enemies. 26He took up a position at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is on God’s side, join me!” All the Levites stepped up. 27He then told them, “God’s orders, the God of Israel: ‘Strap on your swords and go to work. Crisscross the camp from one end to the other: Kill brother, friend, neighbor.’ ” 28The Levites carried out Moses’ orders. Three thousand of the people were killed that day. 29Moses said, “You confirmed your ordination today—and at great cost, even killing your sons and brothers! And God has blessed you.” 30The next day Moses addressed the people: “You have sinned an enormous sin! But I am going to go up to God; maybe I’ll be able to clear you of your sin.” 31Moses went back to God and said, “This is terrible. This people has sinned—it’s an enormous sin! They made gods of gold for themselves. 32And now, if you will only forgive their sin. . . . But if not, erase me out of the book you’ve written.” 33God said to Moses, “I’ll only erase from my book those who sin against me. 34For right now, you go and lead the people to where I told you. Look, my Angel is going ahead of you. On the day, though, when I settle accounts, their sins will certainly be part of the settlement.” 35God sent a plague on the people because of the calf they and Aaron had made.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About