Big day in the soap opera. Moses is late returning with the tablets, and his people make and worship the golden calf. Moses first persuades God to have mercy on them and not annihilate them. Then Moses comes down the mountain and was angry himself, so he had the sons of Levi kill 3000 of those that made the golden calf. But then the lord struck the people with a plague anyhow.
What happens here is very interesting. There is a transition from God being the one who punishes to Moses being the executioner and then back to God. I think we see this happens in our time when we have wars and also catastrophic weather events. Some of the events are the result of our actions, and others seem to be the “act of God”—a phrase used in the law meaning something out of our control.
We see the two sides of God, and the two sides of Moses—justice and mercy. We see that Moses is so angry that he throws down the tablets and breaks them. These are the tablets that would cure the people of their bad behavior. They are needed (an understatement). And yet he destroys them. Is it because they aren’t yet ready for them. Do they have to grow up? Do they have to suffer?
This is the story of human kind, over and over again. We are impatient. We worship false gods (a great subject for another day). We are told the truth (the tablets), but we are not ready for the truth.
And in the end, this is not just the story of the ancients, but also our story, today.