Introduction and Prayer
Can you remember a time in your life when you got off track—when you lost direction or focus on what was important?
Pray and ask God to speak as we gather around God’s Word.
Read Exodus 32:1
1When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”
What triggered this series of bad decisions?
What are some specific areas where we can wrestle with impatience?
What makes us impatient?
What typically happens when we become impatient?
How does God reveal patience towards us?
Read Exodus 32:2-5
So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.” 3All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” 5Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!”
Why did Aaron derail like this?
If Aaron was familiar with God’s ways, why did He lead the people astray?
Why were the people looking for an image to worship?
What tendencies do we have to trust what we see more than what we believe?
Read Exodus 32:6
6The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.
Have you ever felt betrayed? How did it make you feel?
How often do we do refuse to listen to God’s leading in our lives?
Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the instructions on how to offer various types of offerings, while the children of Israel were at the base of the mountain offering sacrifices and offerings to an idol. How do you think God feels when we betray Him?
Read Exodus 32:7-12
The Lord told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ ” 9Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.” 11But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand? 12Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!
What was driving Moses to defend the children of Israel?
Is there anyone that you would argue with God for?
Read Exodus 32:13
13Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself with an oath to them, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. And I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.’ ”
How did Moses argue with God? How did he try and persuade God to change His mind?
Read Exodus 32:14
14So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.
What does this verse reflect about God’s nature?
How does this verse help us understand how God feels about humanity?
Read Exodus 32:21-25
21Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?” 22“Don’t get so upset, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know how evil these people are. 23They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.’ 24So I told them, ‘Whoever has gold jewelry, take it off.’ When they brought it to me, I simply threw it into the fire—and out came this calf!” 25Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies.
How did Aaron respond to the cultural pressure that was moving away from God?
Why do you think that someone who was this close to Moses, could have taken a position this far from God?
What are the issues in our world today that can pressure us to move away from God’s view?
How do we maintain a Biblical worldview in an environment that is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity?
Have you known someone who seems to have walked away from being an active follower of God? Were there any concerning signs along the way?
Identify some signs that can cause us to derail. What can be done to change that negative trajectory?
Read Exodus 32:26-29
26So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. 27Moses told them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone—even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.” 28The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day. 29Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.”
The people were given the opportunity to repent and turn back to God. The majority of people repented for their sin, but approximately 3000 people refused to repent. They remained fixated in their stance against God and received the judgement of death. What was their view of God vs this golden calf? Were these people Children of God who failed or were they children of the enemy?
In light of Christ, how should we respond to those who are rejecting the Gospel?
Paul is responsible for writing the majority of the New Testament. He was a man who spent a significant amount of his life persecuting the early Christians. In essence, he rejected the Gospel. How would we treat a modern day Paul?
How should Christians respond to individuals who are intentionally leading people away from God?
Read Exodus 32:30-35
30The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to the Lord on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.” 31So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves. 32But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!” 33But the Lord replied to Moses, “No, I will erase the name of everyone who has sinned against me. 34Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about. Look! My angel will lead the way before you. And when I come to call the people to account, I will certainly hold them responsible for their sins.” 35Then the Lord sent a great plague upon the people because they had worshiped the calf Aaron had made.
Why were some people punished with death and others simply got sick (plague)?
Have you ever had to endure the consequence of a regretful decision?
What do we do to protect ourselves from derailing as a follower of God?
How does God look at us when we derail, but we repent and turn back to Him?
Why does this passage give us both warning and hope?
Pray for one another.