God Forgives His People
by Elaine Pierce
Moses was on the mountain 40 days, and in that time the Israelites tired of waiting for their leader to return. So they decided to turn to gods of their own making, and Aaron helped them fashion a golden calf from their gold earrings.
40 days. You may recall that Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil for 40 days and 40 nights. Lent, the time before Easter of fasting and prayer, is 40 days (not including Sundays). We see the significance of time throughout scripture, and 40 days seems to be important.
God's response to the people's sin—creating an idol and then engaging in dancing and worship of this idol—is righteous anger. Moses' response to God's anger is to plead for forgiveness for his wayward people. When Moses actually sees the idol, his anger burns with bright fury (see verses 19-20). And Aaron' response—Aaron who enabled this sinful behavior—is to excuse their actions (You know how these people are, Moses—what else could I do?).
The Israelites did not deserve God's favor. They could not wait 40 days without their leader before they turned from God and created their own idol. Before you judge them too harshly, take some time to reflect on your own life. Have you prayed for something and given up when you didn't get the answer you wanted? Have you quickly taken the easy way out of a difficult situation and not stood up for what is right? Reflect on these words in 2 Peter 3:8-9:
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Lord, we come to you as a sinful people, and we ask forgiveness for the many times and the many ways we fail to honor you. Thank you for the gift only you can give us, and help us each day to serve you. Amen.