1. What is one thing that would devastate you if you lost it?
2. What is one thing that you think would bring you contentment if you gained it?
An “Idol” is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship!
3. Why did God give us the second of the Ten Commandments—“Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.”….? (Even if the idol was made as a representation of God Himself, we would soon be worshiping the idol rather than God whom the idol represented. It also removes an aspect of our faith when we need to “see” the One we worship!)
In our Scripture text today we will see how the Israelites grew restless, turned their hearts away from God, and turned toward worshiping an idol that was meant to represent God but became the object of worship to them.
God had called Moses to go up on Mount Sinai and God was giving him instructions about how the Israelites were to behave and how to build the Tabernacle. Moses had been on the mountain 40 days. The people became impatient and Aaron was a very weak leader.
Rebellion! Read Exodus 32:1-4
1. What led to the people’s rebellion against Aaron and ultimately God? (They were impatient, tired of waiting for Moses to return.)
2. In what ways did the people rebel against God?
3. In what ways did Aaron rebel? (There seemed to be no hesitations on Aaron’s part. As recorded in Ex. 24:9-11, Aaron and his two eldest sons had seen God along with Moses and 70 of Israel’s elders. One can’t help but wonder where these leaders were when the people lost faith in the Lord and pleaded with Aaron to make them a god.)
4. What role does a person’s impatience play in idolatry? (When we become impatient with God we have a tendency to turn to something or someone to meet our need that only God can meet according to His perfect plan for us.)
5. Ultimately what or whom are we worshiping when we make for ourselves an idol to worship? (When we worship what we have made with our own hands we control and in the end we are worshiping ourselves and our own desires!)
6. What would you consider the greater influence—impatience, or the desire for a leader?
7. What can we do to encourage each other toward greater patience in our relationship with God?
8. How can we pray for pastors and other leaders who may feel immense pressure to give in to people’s demands? (The people’s rebellion was fierce enough to sway Aaron and to drive the faithful Israelites into silence.)
We need to examine ourselves to make sure our worship is directed toward God alone, actively pray for our leadership and stand faithfully against any rebellion toward God!
Sin Committed! Read Exodus 32:5-6
1. What is the relationship between idolatry and foolishness? (See Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 44:15-17)
2. Why is it so hard for people who trust idols to see the foolishness of their actions? (Satan blinds their eyes.)
3. Aaron announced a day of celebration and called it a festival of feast to the Lord, yet it involved idol worship. How can we avoid the trap of mixing dangerous false teachings or false practices with our worship of the true God?
4. How was Aaron trying to “straddle the fence” and appease both the people and the worship of God? (Aaron had already been chosen as the high priest. God often uses people who seem the least qualified to fulfill His plan.)
Aaron set a bad example for his sons who later were consumed by fire from the altar for approaching God in a way that mocked His holiness—as they had seen their father do.
Aaron didn’t get a “free pass” either. He was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, but died in the wilderness with the rest of the disobedient generation.
The Israelites’ foolishness was on display as they offered sacrifices to their golden calf. God’s anger against their foolish rebellion was swift—He wanted to destroy the people.
God’s Anger! Read Exodus 32:7-10
1. How did God describe His people in the passage? (Stiff-necked)
2. What did God decide their punishment would be?
3. Has there been a time when God would consider you “stiff-necked”?
Notice that God could still fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob if He started all over with Moses! Now let’s see the humility and heart of Moses!
Appeal for Grace! Read Exodus 32:11-14
1. How would you characterize Moses’ relationship with God after reading his dialogue with Him in this passage? (The freedom Moses felt in approaching God with this prayer indicates a respectful, warm, confident, and trust-filled relationship. In Ex. 32:32 Moses said he was willing to give up his place in God’s kingdom if only the people could be forgiven.)
2. What character attributes of God are revealed in verses 7-14? (These qualities among others are evident: God’s justice, righteous anger, righteous jealousy, responsiveness to people, desire to be in loving relationship with people, mercy, faithfulness, kindness, protectiveness, nearness, desire for the hearts of people to trust Him enough to be obedient, and grace.)
3. How does God’s being faithful to His promises give us comfort today?
4. What do we learn about God’s mercy in this passage? (It is Abundant!)
In the end, God’s grace shown through—the same grace He offers to us today, wanting all people to have the opportunity to repent!
See 2 Peter 3:9.
Summarize and Challenge!
We, as believers in Jesus, must stand against anything that is in rebellion against God and His Word. Any attempt to worship any person or object other than the one true God will lead to foolishness. Believers can intercede on behalf of the disobedient, asking for God to give them an opportunity to repent.
1. Who/what we worship matters, and lip service to God is not authentic worship. How does your real worship affect your family, close friends, and community? (Be a bright beacon by living a life that is given in worship to your Savior and Lord Jesus. Worship isn’t one day a week, it is how you live your life every day before a lost world around you.)
2. What are some practical ways we can help one another in guarding against idolatry and placing our trust or finding joy in things other than God? (Commit to pray for each other. When necessary, confront each other in a loving way.)
Personal Challenge: Memorize John 4:24—“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Spend time in prayer, worshiping God alone. Ask God to order the priorities of your heart as you worship Him. Ask Him to use the influence He has given you to draw people to worship Him.
Pray for Christians around the world as they worship God in spirit and in truth.
Pray for millions living in rebellion against God as they worship idols. Pray that they would have access to and respond to the gospel.