As Moses got closer to the camp, he saw the idol, and he also saw the people dancing around. This made him so angry that he threw down the stones and broke them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. He melted the idol the people had made, and he ground it into powder. He scattered it in their water and made them drink it. Moses asked Aaron, ” What did these people do to harm you? Why did you make them sin in this terrible way?”
Aaron answered: Don’t be angry with me. You know as well as I do that they are determined to do evil. They even told me, ” That man Moses led us out of Egypt, but now we don’t know what has happened to him. Make us a god to lead us.” Then I asked them to bring me their gold earrings. They took them off and gave them to me. I threw the gold into a fire, and out came this bull.
Moses knew that the people were out of control and that it was Aaron’s fault. And now they had made fools of themselves in front of their enemies. So Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, ” Everyone who is on the LORD’s side come over here!”
Then the men of the Levi tribe gathered around Moses, and he said to them, ” The LORD God of Israel commands you to strap on your swords and go through the camp, killing your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors.”
The men of the Levi tribe followed his orders, and that day they killed about three thousand men. Moses said to them, ” You obeyed the LORD and did what was right, and so you will serve as his priests for the people of Israel. It was hard for you to kill your own sons and brothers, but the LORD has blessed you and made you his priests today.”Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Exodus 32:19-29 (CEV)
God blessed the Levites, His priests, for slaughtering 3,000 people. This is one of those passages of Scriptures that I wish I had just remained ignorant! As a young child I was told the story of Moses coming down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and seeing the people worshiping the golden calf, and he had a temper tantrum, threw the stones and broke them. I do not remember my Bible teachers telling me how the Levites, Godâ€™s priests, were instructed to kill their brothers and friends for their sin of idolatry and after they had completed that mission, they were told they were blessed.
“Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.â€Â Â Â Â Â Matthew 10:32-36 (HCSB)
God takes the sin of idolatry very seriously. Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). His words here drive home to me that I cannot â€˜gloss overâ€™ Godâ€™s rage when His children erect idols and worship them. Any time and in any way that I replace God as Lord of my lifeâ€¦there are consequences. That includes choosing what others think of me over being obedient and faithful to God whether they be my parents or spouse or children.
As in the days of Moses, God does not compromise His judgment but He does desire my repentance and makes a way for my reconciliation to Him.