Awesome Hands – Part 112: “The Golden Calf” – part 2

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Awesome Hands – Part 112

The Golden Calf – Part 2

March 10, 2017

It is always amazing to me what we do for ourselves and claim it is for the Lord, as if He needs us to do something for Him for His benefit or to show our loyalty.

Well, the children of Israel are no different and find themselves doing just that as we saw in our previous study about the golden calf. For this study, we are going to see the results of their actions as the Lord passes judgment on the Israelites for this “great sin”.

In particular, our verse for consideration today containing the next iteration of the Hebrew word “yad” or “hand” in English, is found in Exodus 32:29.

Exo 32:29  For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

This verse alone is very instructive, but there is also much for us to learn when we read the context of this verse.

I have subtitled this study “The Golden Calf – Part 2” because we had looked at verses 1-6 in the last study of this same chapter. So, I am going to read from verses 7 to build up to this verses where the Lord instructs – us – to consecrate ourselves, upon our sons and upon our brothers.

Before this happens however, the Lord is going to pass judgment on this act of the Israelites, and Aaron their currently-in-charge leader.

Exo 32:7  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:
Exo 32:8  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, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Exo 32:9  And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
Exo 32:10  Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

In these verses, we can see the mind of the Lord and how He views sin perpetrated against Him. The way it is phrased here in the KJV leads us to think that Moses himself is being stiffnecked, because the Lord clearly says in verse 10 to “let me alone” or “leave me alone and don’t try to stop me.”

What does Moses do, however? He does exactly what the Lord says not to do, but this is all for OUR BENEFIT so that we can know what the Lord is “thinking” about what has transpired.

This is very similar to when Jesus would speak aloud so that it was heard by those around Him, but otherwise there was no reason for it to be spoken aloud.

Joh 11:40  Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Joh 11:41  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
Joh 11:42  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
Joh 11:43  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

Jesus already knew the will of God, and it was that Lazarus would be raised from the dead. Notice, Jesus and no others had SEEN Lazarus; yet, Jesus KNEW ahead of seeing that Lazarus had indeed risen and that the Father had heard Him.

In this same vein of thought, but not exactly the same parallel, the Lord is speaking to Moses telling Moses not to try and stop the Lord in His wrath so that the Lord could raise up from Moses a great nation, all the while knowing that Moses would do the opposite.

In other words, the Lord speaks things for us to grasp what is happening but knows “behind the scenes” what will actually happen. These examples are simply recorded so that we know this is the case.

Continuing with the Lord telling Moses to “let me alone”, we see Moses petition to the Lord as we read:

Exo 32:11  And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12  Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Exo 32:13  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
Exo 32:14  And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Where would we all be without Moses interceding on our behalf!?

Moses is doing what any of us would have done as the one who had been used to bring the people out of Egypt. Yet, even in Moses’ concern for the people he did what the Lord said not to do. Still, we are told “the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do to His people.”

There are two verses that come to mind concerning the “repenting” that the Lord supposedly does. Certainly the translators use the English word repent, but this does not always convey the meaning of the verse without knowing that the Hebrew being translated can at times mean something quite different.

Num 23:19  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

1Sa 15:29  And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

In all instances that “repent” is used in English, we see that they are from the same Hebrew word, “nacham”.

Total KJV Occurrences: 109
comfort, 34
Gen_5:29, Gen_27:42, Gen_37:35, 2Sa_10:2, 1Ch_7:22, 1Ch_19:2 (2), Job_2:11, Job_7:13, Job_21:34, Psa_23:4, Psa_71:21, Psa_119:50, Psa_119:76, Psa_119:82, Isa_22:4, Isa_40:1 (2), Isa_51:3 (2), Isa_51:19, Isa_57:6, Isa_61:2, Isa_66:13, Jer_16:7, Jer_31:13, Lam_1:2, Lam_1:17, Lam_1:21, Lam_2:13, Eze_14:23, Eze_16:54, Zec_1:17, Zec_10:2
comforted, 20
Gen_24:67, Gen_37:35, Gen_38:12, Gen_50:21, Rth_2:13, 2Sa_12:24, 2Sa_13:39, Job_42:11, Psa_77:2, Psa_86:17, Psa_119:52, Isa_49:13, Isa_52:9, Isa_54:11, Isa_66:13, Jer_31:15, Eze_5:13, Eze_14:22, Eze_31:16, Eze_32:31
repent, 19
Exo_13:17, Exo_32:12, Num_23:19, Deu_32:36, 1Sa_15:29 (2), Job_42:6, Psa_90:13, Psa_110:4, Psa_135:14, Jer_4:28, Jer_18:8, Jer_18:10, Jer_26:3, Jer_26:13, Jer_42:10, Joe_2:14 (2), Jon_3:9
repented, 17
Gen_6:6, Exo_32:14, Jdg_2:18, Jdg_21:6, Jdg_21:15, 1Sa_15:35, 2Sa_24:16, 1Ch_21:15, Psa_106:45, Jer_8:6, Jer_20:16, Jer_31:19 (2), Amo_7:3, Amo_7:6, Jon_3:10, Zec_8:14
comforters, 5
2Sa_10:3, 1Ch_19:3, Job_16:2, Psa_69:20, Nah_3:7
comforter, 3
Ecc_4:1, Lam_1:9, Lam_1:16
comforteth, 3
Job_29:25, Isa_66:12-13 (2)
repenteth, 3
Gen_6:7, 1Sa_15:11, Joe_2:13
comfortedst, 1
ease, 1
receive, 1
repentest, 1
repenting, 1

As can be seen above, 41 times the Hebrew word “nacham” is translated as some form of “repent”, but 66 of the 109 times it is used it is translated as some form of the English word “comfort”. We can read a few of these examples to gain a little more understanding about this “apparent” discrepancy.

Gen 5:29  And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.

Zec 10:2  For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.

Eze 5:13  Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.

Job 16:1  Then Job answered and said,
Job 16:2  I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.

Psa 69:20  Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

Isa 12:1  And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.

Here are a few more examples of the same Hebrew word being used as some form of “repent”.

Exo 13:17  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Jon 3:9  Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

Jer 18:8  If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
Jer 18:9  And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
Jer 18:10  If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

1Ch 21:14  So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
1Ch 21:15  And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
1Ch 21:16  And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
1Ch 21:17  And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

What, then, is going on? It seems that sometimes “repent” is appropriate, but most times some form of the word “comfort” is appropriate. So how do we know what is appropriate, and is this an accurate way to look at this Hebrew word?

Answering this question will help us understand why the Lord spoke to Moses the way He did, and it also will help us understand why it is that you and I, and the Israelites, seemingly do the exact opposite that the Lord instructs us to do things.

Strong’s defines H5162 as:

A primitive root; properly to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, that is, (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself): – comfort (self), ease [one’s self], repent (-er, -ing, self).

And Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB) defines H5162 as:

BDB Definition:
1) to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted
1a) (Niphal)
1a1) to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion
1a2) to be sorry, rue, suffer grief, repent
1a3) to comfort oneself, be comforted
1a4) to comfort oneself, ease oneself
1b) (Piel) to comfort, console
1c) (Pual) to be comforted, be consoled
1d) (Hithpael)
1d1) to be sorry, have compassion
1d2) to rue, repent of
1d3) to comfort oneself, be comforted
1d4) to ease oneself
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root

In the most basic sense of applying repentance to oneself, it simply means to comfort oneself. To be comforted. Repentance is the act of doing the opposite thing that brought repentance and this brings an easement to the situation at hand.

For example, if I commit a sin that I know is sin and I am convicted of it in my heart, then true Godly repentance will take this burden from me by allowing me to understand and know that the Lord forgives me sin.

Or another way to understand it is to allow yourself to feel sorry for the sin and regret doing it, which is the very act of repenting.

When applying this concept to our study today, we can see that the Lord was comforted by His will knowing that what He has already preordained to happen was happening, and the next steps could be taken to implement His Lordship over His people.

This is similar to when I tell my children not to do something that is harmful to them KNOWING that if they break this rule they could, and most likely will, be hurt by the thing I told them not to do. When it DOES HAPPEN, I am relieved and comforted that they have LEARNED their lesson that 1) they should listen to the sound protective advice of their father and 2) they will have consequences that need to be dealt with as a result of their actions, among others lessons learned.

There are many ways to illustrate this, but I think that is sufficient.

Getting back to the story we find ourselves examining today, we see the Lord has “repented”, and Moses must see this all for himself. So, what is Moses to do?

Exo 32:15  And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
Exo 32:16  And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
Exo 32:17  And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.
Exo 32:18  And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
Exo 32:19  And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Let me get this right, Moses. You spent all this time up on the mount with the Lord preparing these tablets, among other things, and after the Lord warned you of what the Israelites had done and for which you are seeing for yourself, you decide to slam them down on the ground? Yep, that’s exactly what he did.

The Israelites were right in the middle of BLATANT IDOL WORSHIP! I wonder if there is a message here for us of how we, as the children of God who commune with the Lord daily, should act when we see blatant idol worship. What should our heart and mind feel and act upon?

Eph 4:25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Eph 4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Eph 4:27  Neither give place to the devil.

Now that Moses is on the scene he is going to take immediate action to correct this “great sin” that the people and Aaron have committed.

Exo 32:20  And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Yes, the Israelites are being made to drink of the wrath of the anger of the Lord! I don’t believe, at this moment, that Moses was thinking “why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people”. It’s more likely that he was forcing them to take into themselves, as an acknowledgment of their sins, the very sin they had willingly committed.

Then, just as the Lord questioned the serpent, Eve and Adam about what caused them to sin against the Lord in their acts of participating in taking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Moses turns to Aaron and says, “Bro, what were you thinking!?”.

Exo 32:21  And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
Exo 32:22  And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.

Wait a second! Did Aaron really just use the same words Moses used against the Lord? Why, yes he did!

Exo 32:23  For they said unto me, 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.
Exo 32:24  And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

Truly, the heart is desperately wicked, and who can know it? All Aaron did apparently was take some gold from the people, throw it in the fire, and this calf made of gold just jumped out and erected itself on an altar to be worshipped!

Does anyone else see themselves in this story like I do and just how silly we look to the Lord when we try to justify and excuse our behaviors? I remember something like this actually happening Aaron:

Exo 32:3  And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
Exo 32:4  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.
Exo 32:5  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.

Hmm, something isn’t adding up here, Aaron.

Well, though I employ a little humor at a not-so-humorous act of sin on the part of the Israelites, we see that Moses himself causes a lot of wrath to happen to the Israelites after he himself petitioned the Lord to hold back His wrath.

It turns out that the Lord decided to use Moses to implement the start of His wrath! Indeed, the Lord was comforted to have this sin be dealt with!

Exo 32:25  And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)
Exo 32:26  Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
Exo 32:27  And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
Exo 32:28  And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

This is a process we all must go through and learn from, but we should and must be comforted that the Lord will place it in our hands to be consecrated to Himself.

The Lord will cause us not only to consecrate ourselves, but He wills that we consecrate our brothers and sisters in Christ, collectively known as ‘the brethren’ and ‘sons of God’, so that we can all be led by the Lord to the next step in our walks with Him.

Exo 32:29  For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.
Exo 32:30  And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
Exo 32:31  And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
Exo 32:32  Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
Exo 32:33  And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
Exodus 32:34  Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
Exo 32:35  And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

We can be comforted when we repent of sin against the Lord, knowing though He will put to death the old man who has this sin dwelling in him, this entire process brings life to the new man to go on to the “spiritual promised land” of New Jerusalem.

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