Exodus 31-32

Sunday Evening Bible Study

June 1, 1997


Moses is now at the end of the forty days he's been on Mount Sinai, receiving detailed instructions on the Law as well as being given instructions as to the construction of the Tabernacle, the portable worship center in the desert.

Exodus 31

:2 I have called by name Bezaleel

God had laid out this entire blueprint of the tabernacle, and how each item was to be built.

But He didn't stop there.

God had people in mind for building the thing as well.

Moses didn't have to do everything.


Where God guides, God provides.

Sometimes people have great ideas.

If God is behind the idea, you can bet that not only will the idea be a good one, but the pieces will be there to carry it out.

But if the right people aren't there to carry it out, then I'm not sure that God is in it.

Sometimes the right person is you.

And God calls you by name.

Wouldn't that be cool to be Bezaleel, and to think that God was talking about YOU to Moses?

:3 I have filled him with the spirit of God

This sounds an awful lot like the filling of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The "power" that we receive through the Holy Spirit is an "enabling", being given special abilities from the Lord for serving Him.

We call these gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Here we see Bezaleel having been prepared for his ministry by the Spirit of God having given him special skills that are just perfect for the contruction of the tabernacle.

He was to be a help to Moses and the priests by building their ministry tools for them.

:12-17 Sabbath

The sign that shows the world that the Jews belonged to the Lord was their keeping of the Sabbath.

This made them different from the rest of the world.

How is it a sign?

1. It demonstrates trust in God.

They don't have to work 20 hour days, seven days a week to meet their needs.

They trust that God will provide for them if they take one day off to rest and honor Him.

2. It showed the world what it was like to worship God.

The Sabbath wasn't just a kick back and watch football on TV type of rest.

It was to be a rest centered on drawing near to God.

It was "holy to the Lord", set apart for God's use, (vs.15)

(Lev 23:3 KJV) Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

Convocation - "calling together", getting together for church!

Should we keep the Sabbath (Saturday)?

There are some groups who hold the position that everyone must worship on Saturday.

Seventh Day Adventists, Worldwide Church of God...

1. The Sabbath was clearly given to the Jews, not Gentiles. See vs.13,16,17.

2. The Gentile church was clearly excused from having to keep the Law in order to be saved.

ACT 15:28-29 "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell."

3. The early Gentile church worshipped on Sunday. (1Cor.16:1-3)

4. We should still observe the principles behind the Sabbath, mainly to rest and worship (Heb.4)

:18 two tables of testimony

Imagine having these two tablets of stone with God's own handwriting on them! Wow!

The two tablets contained the Ten Commandments (Ex.20)

First tablet:

The first four commands relating to God.

Second tablet:

The last six commands relating to people.

Exodus 32

:1 Moses delayed to come down out of the mount

It's been forty days since Moses was last seen of.

The people are beginning to wonder if Moses has died up on the mountain or something.


Be careful of impatience!

Sometimes all we need to do is just stick it out a little longer.

Moses is actually on his way down the mountain, but they don't know that.


The famous Professor Huxley was attending a convention of scientists in Ireland, and was late for the meeting one morning. He hailed a carriage and said to the driver, "Drive fast, for I am in a great hurry." The driver started off at a mad pace and after a few minutes the professor began to be shaken up. "Do you know where I want to go?" he asked the driver.

"No yer 'onor," answered the driver. "You didn't tell me where to go, but anyway, I am driving fast."

-- Donald Grey Barnhouse, Bible Truth Illustrated, Keats Publishing , Inc., 1979, p. 5.


Hasty climbers have sudden falls.

:1 Up, make us gods

The Hebrew here is elohim, which can be translated "gods" (plural), or "God", since often "God" is a translation of elohim, demonstrating the three persons of the godhead.

It seems as we go through the chapter, it wasn't really a new batch of gods they wanted, but with Moses gone, they wanted something they could see.


People don't always need what they think they do.

There is a trap that we can all into sometimes, thinking that what people say they need is what they really need.

These people think they need new gods.

What they really need is to wait.


As parents, we see this with our kids.

They might say they really need to have another snack.

But you know they need to wait until it's dinner time.

:4 fashioned it with a graving tool

Just 40 days earlier, God said,

(Exo 20:4 KJV) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

:5 To morrow [is] a feast to the LORD.

Pay attention to what Aaron is saying!

He's claiming that this golden calf is Yahweh!

Don't think that there is some sense here that the people are abandoning Yahweh for another god.

They just want a little clearer idea of what God is like.

:6 the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

Sitting down to eat refers to the people eating the "peace offerings", which were like a dinner with God.

God got a portion, you got a portion.

It's a little clear what is meant by the "rose up to play".

The Hebrew word (tsachaq) simply means "to laugh, mock, or play", and sounds innocent enough. (Gen.17:7)

But there are several Scriptures where you kind of get the feeling that this word can carry a sexual overtone (Gen.26:8; 39:14)

Some have suggested that there is some kind of a drunken orgy going on.


Learn from their mistakes!

We can either learn to follow the Lord the hard way, by making all the mistakes ourselves, or we can learn from others' mistakes.

Paul sees the wanderings of the Israelites as lessons we can learn by:

1Co 10:6-7 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as [were] some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.


Don't use church to feed your lust.

They don't seem to have any qualms about the things they're doing.

They think they're serving God, but they're just feeding their lusts.

I wonder sometimes about some singles' groups I hear about that are nothing more than pick-up places, people go to church, but it's not for God, it's for a woman or a man.

:7 for thy people, which thou broughtest out

Do you get the idea that God is fed up with the people, and doesn't even want them associated with Him at all?

Now they're "Moses' people"!

:8 These be thy gods, O Israel

In fact, this was Moses' own brother, Aaron, the HIGH PRIEST who had said that!

:10 I will make of thee a great nation

In other words, God was willing to wipe out all the Israelites, and just start over with Moses.

:14 the LORD repented of the evil

What's happening here?

It sounds like God was so ticked off, that He got kind of carnal, and Moses had to talk God out of it.

Keep in mind - would God have been just and righteous to wipe out the Israelites for disobeying Him so incredibly, right in His face?

Yes, God would have been righteous. He's their God.

I think what is happening here is that God is helping Moses grow as a shepherd.

Moses is interceding for the people, pleading their cause before the Lord.

I'm not sure that God wanted to wipe out the people as much as He wanted Moses to be praying for them.

Keep in mind what God will reveal about Himself in just a few chapters -

God's primary character trait is that He's merciful and patient, not quick to judge

(Exo 34:6-7 KJV) And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, {7} Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

I think God is kind of leading Moses along to grow as a shepherd to be merciful and gracious as well.


A leader needs to be an intercessor.

Nobody's going to pray for your people like you are.

If you are in the role of a shepherd over some other precious folks, whether as leader of a Bible Study, as a parent, as a Sunday School teacher, God wants you too to be an intercessor.

Too often we just get fed up and say, "Okay God, go ahead and wipe them out!"

But here Moses comes through with flying colors, pleading with God for mercy on the people.

Moses isn't going to be perfect, there's going to be times when he gets angry too, but this time, he's handling it properly.

:18 it is not the voice of them that shout for mastery

Moses says to Joshua, "they're not fighting, they're partying."

:19 Moses' anger waxed hot

I'm not so sure that his anger is inappropriate here, I think that Moses is just disgusted with their sin.

:19 brake them beneath the mount.

This isn't just an act of uncontrollable anger.

The people had agreed to obey all that God had said (Ex.24:3), but now they've broken that agreement.

:20 made the children of Israel drink of it

By putting all the gold dust in the water system, they ended up drinking up their "god". You make your bed, you sleep in it.

:21 What did this people unto thee

Hey Aaron, what did they do, put a gun to your head?

:22 the people, that they are set on mischief

It sounds to me like Aaron is not accepting any kind of blame here.

He's blaming it on the people.

The truth is, God is very ticked off at Aaron right now!

Later, Moses will write about this time:

(Deu 9:20 KJV) And the LORD was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.

Aaron is very much to blame in this.

:24 then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

This has got to be one of the classic excuses of all time.

Aaron makes it sound as if this was some kind of miracle or something, as if he had nothing to do with it.


Don't make excuses for your sin.

Call it sin.

David was pretty good at hiding his sin, and he wrote:

Psa 32:1-6 A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. {2} Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. {3} When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. {4} For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. {5} I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. {6} For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

We often hinder God's work in our lives because we are unwilling to admit that we are at fault.

With confession comes cleansing.

:25 the people were naked

NIV - the people were running wild

para` - to let go, to loosen; let alone

It may simply refer to the fact the all the carousing was still going on, and nobody was making any attempts to reign in the crowd.

:28 that day about three thousand of the people died.

This is a difficult thing, to think that the Levites went through the camp and killed 3,000 people!


Do whatever it takes to repent.

Repentance from sin isn't something we should ever take half-heartedly.

It's something we should attack with a vengeance, to get the sin out of our life.

Jesus said:

(Mat 5:29-30 KJV) And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. {30} And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Do whatever it takes to stop the sin.

How serious are you?

Paul wrote:

(2 Cor 7:11 NIV) See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

True sorrow over sin produces true repentance.

:32 forgive their sin

When we see Moses come down into the camp, we can get the idea that he's angry with the people.

But he's really angry at their sin.

We know this because here we see him pleading again for mercy on them.


Do you pray for mercy or judgment?

How do you pray for those you're disappointed with?

Do you stay angry, or do you stop and pray for God to be merciful and loving toward them?

Moses is even willing to give up his salvation for the sake of the people. Just like Jesus.