Exodus 32: 7-14 – Background

This week we are going to be looking at Exodus 32: 7-14. Just like last week, before we get to the text, I want to take a moment and walk through the background of how we got to this place.

Last week we left off with Joseph saving his brothers from the famine. They were provided for and they were safe. But then the Bible has that powerful short phrase, there arose a Pharaoh who did not remember Joseph. At that point, he became afraid of the Hebrews and made them slaves. They continued to prosper, so he had all the male babies killed. Moses’ mother hid him until he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. Eventually, in a fit of rage, he killed an Egyptian and fled to the desert.

God calls through the burning bush and he returns to Egypt and leads the people to freedom. Now, we encounter the people at the base of the mountain, and they are longing for slavery instead of freedom.

There is a powerful symbolic point there. As humans, our hearts after often drawn towards the things that are familiar (such as sin) instead of freedom. Because freedom is scary. Freedom puts the onus on us. The Israelites in many ways preferred the safety of bondage in Egypt to the uncertainty of freedom in the desert.

Today, while Moses is on the mountain, talking with God, reviving the law, people turn to idolatry instead of turning to God for freedom. The passage we are reading this week is Moses’ and God’s conversation about what is happening.

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