When Moses had gone up to the mountain to receive the commandments of the Lord, the people had grown anxious because he had not returned. They said, “We do not know what has become of him.” Ex 32:1 They had experienced the deliverance of God from the Egyptians in a mighty and miraculous way. They trembled as the presence of God descended on the mountain and witnessed “the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking.” Ex 20:18 They “heard the sound of the words, but saw no form;…” they only heard a voice. Deut 4:11
Even with the absence of Moses, they knew God and had experienced His deliverance and provision. Having heard His voice they knew what He expected; “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourselves a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” Ex 20:2-4
Yet with all they experienced and knew, “in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, Make for us gods to go before us…” Acts 7:39,40 “They had turned aside quickly out of the way which I have commanded them,” said the Lord to Moses. Ex 32:8 Had Moses died? Did he desert them? Maybe he went back to Egypt? Without him how would they get to the Promised Land? They had put their hope in the man Moses rather than God who was directing and guiding Moses.
At this point it would be easy for them to go back to Egypt in their mind. That’s what they knew. It wasn’t the best situation there, but they knew what to expect. Now they were entering the unknown. That’s where faith leads. Moses, “by faith forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” Heb 11:27 They wanted to go back to the seen, what was known. They had spent their entire life in a culture that worshiped idols. That came natural to them.
What was unnatural was following an invisible God who, to them, had apparently deserted them. They could not get past the temporal problems and situations. They could not see the big picture. They failed to believe the promise of God, “And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.” Ex 6:8
Do we not respond the same way to the problems of life? Stress and problems will either lead us toward God or away from God. It’s not neutral. Many times those things steer us back to our old ways…the place where we were once comfortable…back to Egypt. Where are you today? Are you back in Egypt or are you on your way to the Promised Land? Do you quickly turn away from Him when things become difficult? Or are you following in the faithful footsteps of Moses who said, “…for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you not forsake you.” Ex 31:6 It is either one or the other. Where are you going today?