Exodus 32:14 “So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people”
Exodus 32 is a great story – with so much to learn from. We have Moses up on Mt. Sinai with God getting the pieces of rock (the commandments). While on earth – we have Aaron and many in the community making a golden calf to idolize – to take the place (and to be attributed the Exodus) of a God that has abandoned them (or so it would seem).
God notices the idolatry and decides that it is time to “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.” (Ex 32:10). God is planning to make Moses a ‘great nation’.
Moses, and his quick thinking and wit, turns the situation around. Moses says ‘Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'” (Ex 32:13). God made a promise to the Patriarchs – He cannot switch this now?
Guess what – God repents (changes His mind) in verse 14. Of course, by the end of the chapter we find God did not change His mind “Then the LORD smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made” (Ex 32:35).
Did you know – from what I can tell – there are two stories about God in this chapter – concerning the same issue (the golden calf and God’s response)? Here they are:
(a) Exodus 32:1-18: In this version God forgives the people (repents of wanting to destroy them), thanks to Moses interceding on the people’s behalf, and gives Moses the stone commandments. All seems to be moving forward.
(b) Exodus 32:19-35: Moses sees the people and the calf and Aaron’s betrayal. Moses commands people to be killed (about 3000) for the actions of idolatry and ribaldry. Moses goes to see God about the issue to see if something can be done – forgiveness of sins (Moses even decides to leave God if He will not honor the promise to Israel). God decides justice will be visited only on the people that committed the atrocious actions – not the ones that were innocent. God smote the people by verse 35.
Huh? Did not God change His mind in verse 14? I think there are 2 versions of the same story here – one paints a God that reasons with Moses – the other one that Moses needs to ‘bow down’ to and is strictly authoritative. One is merciful to the people – One is judgmental concerning the situation (only wants justice).
Great question – do we serve the God that can repent or serve the God that demands justice? I am partial to serve version (a) but I am aware version (b) is also needed (justice is important also). But I see a few versions of God – nothing wrong with that is there?