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The golden calf

Exodus 32:19

And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.

Full bible text

Exodus 24:5-8
And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

About this painting

The covenant confirmed and broken.
The promise to Abram, and the covenant that God made with him (Gen. 15) is the base for the covenant that is made with his ascendants. God sets the people of Israel apart as His holy and priestly people. He has delivered them from the slave house Egypt, and now He instructs them about life in covenant relationship with Him. The Ten Commandments give direction to the life of the people who have God as King. The people are grateful for the deliverance and willing to do what He demands.
A solemn confirmation of the covenant takes place at the foot of mount Sinai. (Ex. 24) Moses builds an altar and oxen are being sacrificed. He sprinkles half of their blood on the altar. The Israelites say: ’All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient’. Then Moses sprinkles the ‘blood of the covenant’ on the people. They now belong to God.
The ‘blood of the covenant’ foreshadows the blood of Jesus Christ, Who gave His life in our place. Luke 22:20
Then Moses has to come up on the mountain to God to receive the two tablets of stone on which the Lord wrote the Ten Commandments. Moses stays on the mountain for forty days and nights. Because of his long stay on the mountain the Israelites suspect something might have happened to Moses. Then they ‘desire gods who shall go before them’, and Aron makes a golden calf for them.
However, this is against the will of God. On the mountain He speaks to Moses, and commands him to descend, because ‘the people corrupted themselves’. When Moses descends and sees the worship of the golden calf, ‘his anger burns hot and he throws the tablets out of his hands and breaks them at the foot of the mountain’.
This occurrence shows that the people were not able to keep Gods law.
In the New Testament the apostle Paul writes about the function of the law:

Gal. 3:19 ‘Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary’.

Gal. 3:24 ‘So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith’.

In chapter 1-8 of the letter to the Romans Paul goes into detail on law and gospel.


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