In the first verse of Exodus 32, we discover three contributors to the rebellion that was about to take place in the wilderness. We are first told that Moses was delayed. He received the Ten Commandments, plans for the tabernacle, various laws, and instructions for festivals. The people grew impatient as they waited for Moses. Impatience always seems to contribute to our rebellion against God. Moses did not return on their timetable. In Exodus 24:18, we are told that Moses disappeared into the cloud for forty days and forty nights. Moses had been summoned by God, and one wouldn’t expect Moses to check his watch when in God’s presence. Impatience gets the best of us even when we are in full view of the cloud-covered mountain!
A second contributor was their misguided allegiance. The people appear to have placed their trust in a servant of God and not the God followed by that servant. They credited Moses with leading them out of Egypt but make no mention of God being involved. Rebellion against God always follows our failure to recognize God at work. When we trust anyone other than God, we are one step away from full-blown rebellion.
A third contributor surfaces at the end of verse one as the people expressed that they did not know what happened to Moses. They assumed Moses was not returning but really had no basis for that claim. He had not abandoned them in the past. We tend to fill in the details of a story even if we get the details wrong. Here was the reasoning: Moses has not returned, he has abandoned us, we must find another god to lead us. Their assumptions led them to the wrong conclusions, and they used those wrong conclusions to justify their demand for an idol.
Impatience, misguided allegiances, and assumptions. Think about how those same things contribute to our rebellion against God. We think something should be taking place quicker, so we take matters into our own hands. We place our trust in a person, organization, or institution and then wonder why they are not able to deliver what we want. We assume life will go a certain way and when it doesn’t we start looking for something else with the hope that it will happen OUR way, forgetting that God is at work on the mountain behind the cloud.
How can we safeguard ourselves from things that would contribute to our rebellion?