When the Hebrew Israelites saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some deities like the ones we had back in Egypt. Make us deities that can lead us. Because it’s been quite a while and we don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses who brought us here from the land of the Egyptians.”
So Aaron, wanting to please the rabble rousers—and he himself being a skilled craftsman—said to the people, “Bring me your jewelry. Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.” And the people did as he told them. Then 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 deities who brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
Aaron saw how excited the Israelites were and how esteemed he was in the eyes of the rabble rousers, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to Yah!”
The next day, the rebellious Israelites could hardly wait! They got up early in the morning to make sacrifices at the altar of the golden calf. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and all types of forbidden pleasures.
But Yeshua saw all that was going on and alerted Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live!
“I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these Israelites 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.”
But Moses pleaded with Yeshua, “If you do this, then the Egyptians will believe that you rescued us only to destroy us in the desert. Please don’t do such a thing to us, your chosen people. Remember the promises you made with our forefathers, your humble servant and friend Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when 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 this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.’”
Yeshua listened to Moses’ words and did not carry out his threat. Moses immediately hurried down the mountain carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant that were written by Yeshua himself. When Moses came near the camp and saw the Hebrew Israelites worshipping the golden calf, eating and dancing and partaking in all types of pagan customs, he burned with anger. He threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain.
Moses was so upset he took the calf they made and burned it. Then he ground it into powder, threw it into the water, and forced all the rebellious Israelites to drink it!
Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?”
“Don’t be angry with me,” Aaron replied, trying to make excuses. “You yourself know how evil these people are. The people were wondering where you were and told me to make some deities for them. They brought me their gold jewelry which I simply threw in the fire, and out came this calf!
Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies. The next day, Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to Yeshua on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.”
So, Moses returned to Yeshua on the mountain and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin your chosen people have committed. If you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!”
Yeshua gave him this answer: “No, I will erase the name of everyone who has sinned against me. Now, go, lead the people to the place I told you about.” Then Yeshua sent a great plague upon the people in the camp because they had worshipped the calf Aaron had made.
Admitting that you’ve been disobedient and have broken the commandments is sometimes hard to do. And even though Moses had the people drink the bitterness of their idolatry, they still did not bend the knee and ask Yeshua for forgiveness. Moses himself had to plead to Yeshua for forgiveness on their behalf. The next time you’re disobedient and break one of the laws, statutes, or commandments, will you be humble and ask for Yeshua’s forgiveness yourself?
Other Stories in this Collection
Yeshua Forgives Series Summary
As you can see from all these stories of Yah’s forgiveness, he changes not. He is a forgiver, through and through. He is not a respecter of people, and he is always eager to forgive (in fact, he prefers forgiveness and mercy over sacrifice as stated in 1 Sam 15:22 and Hosea 6:6). From mighty kings—like King David and King Josiah—to an entire town of Gentiles, like the people of Nineveh, down to his friend, Peter, who betrayed him, Yeshua forgave them all! It does not mean that because he has forgiven you, you will not be punished for doing wrong (see Psalms 99:8). But if you ask for forgiveness 70 times 7 times he will forgive you no matter how small or large the wrongdoing, as we are taught in Matthew 18:22.