Day 47: The Golden Calf

Exodus 32:11-35 Although the Israelites turned to the worship of the golden calf, God forgave them and remained faithful to them because of the INTERCESSORY PRAYER OF MOSES. He stood “in the breach” between humanity and God, and in doing so provided a model that would inspire Israel’s leaders for years to come. God had always been a just God, and now he began to manifest more clearly his unbounded forgiveness. (CCC 210, 2112-2114, 2577)

Ch 32:25-29 The execution of the men who committed idolatry is a manifestation that the mercury of Christ’s New Covenant was NOT YET a moral standard. These harsh measures were meant to preserve the purity of the Jewish faith and moral life. (CCC 1459)

Leviticus 23:1-22 Here we find, in effect, a liturgical calendar for Israel. The Sabbath is the weekly day for worship and rest, and the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, already prescribed in Exodus, comprise the most sacred feasts of the year. The Feast of the First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks are harvest festivals timed in relation to the Passover. (CCC 1164)

Ch 23:23-44 The new year was to be celebrated in the seventh month with three feasts: The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement (in Hebrew, Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles, during which the people would live in tents for seven days to recall their forty years of sojourning in the desert after God had led them out of Egypt. (CCC 728)

Psalm 79 This psalm laments the destruction of the Temple and the havoc caused in Jerusalem by the invading Babylonians. The psalmist knew these things happened due to the sins of Israel and sought forgiveness for those transgressions. However, he immediately asked for vengeance against the Babylonians, whose desecrations and bloodlust were far worse sins. Christians who pray this psalm should try to FORGIVE their persecutors following the example of Christ. 

Help us, O God...your name’s sake: God sought not only to liberate Israel from oppression but also to purify them from sin. He was instructing the Jewish people on the gravity of infidelity. Through the consequences of their rejection of his Law, the Chosen People were being formed in the pursuit of forgiveness and repentance from a God rich in mercy. (CCC 431)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 22: Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1-35)

Israel’s worship of the golden calf represents a violation of the first commandment and a return to Egyptian idolatry. Though the Israelites are removed from Egypt physically, their hearts remain behind spiritually. Here, as often throughout the Bible, idolatry is accompanied by sexual immorality.

Key Event 23: Appointment of Levites (Exodus 32:25-29)

After the golden calf idolatry, Moses asks who is on the Lord’s side, at which point the Levites step forward (Ex 32:29). Here, the Levites receive the privilege of serving in the sanctuary alongside the priests, who are descended from Aaron

The Golden Calf:

A Change in Priesthood:

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for this prayer. We thank you for revealing to us the brokenness of our own hearts when we hear the story of the exodus and the story of the golden calf. We know, Lord God, that our hearts are idol-making machines. We can turn to anything instead of turning to you. Help us ALWAYS ALWAYS to be faithful to you, not just in great things, but, also in small things. Lord God, we want to belong to you. We want to be yours. Help us to be yours fully. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”


As wonderfully explained by Dr. Brant Pitre in his book "Jesus the Bridegroom" the Covenant made at Sinai was described by the Prophets as a nuptial covenant in it's nature between God and his people.  What then would the idolatry of the Golden Calf be, if not infidelity and spiritual adultery again God?

What does it mean for God to repent of Evil?  Can God do evil?  Can God change his mind?  Perhaps this concept of a Father teaching his children a lesson serves as an explanation ot what this phrase means.

The Levites avenging the idolatry of Israel with the sword calls back how their forefather, Levi, along with his brother Simeon, used the sword to take vengenace for the defilement of his sister. When the Sanhedrin came and arrested Jesus, Simon-Peter tried to protect Jesus from them with the sword.  Just as there is a link between Simon-Peter and the Levites through the sword, Dr. Brant Pitre shows in his talk fo the Jewish roots of the Papacy, there is a link between the Levitical Priesthood, the keys to the temple, and Peter.

In the Old Covenant, whoever has sinned against God will be blotted out of his book.  Is that no longer the case in the New Covenant.  Revelation 3 and 30 indicate salvation may still be lost.  While Jesus states that those in the church (already saved through baptism) who suceeed in repenting of their short-comings will NOT have their name blotted out in the book of life, it implies those who do not succeed then WILL have thir name blotted out, and Christ "will come like a thief in the night" - an allegory for judgement.

The Feast Days listed in Leviticus 23. They remind me (at least loosely) in certain ways some of the Feasts of the Church and our Liturgical Seasons.

I can’t help but notice how in all these major feasts and sabbaths, layered within are holy days of rest on the “First” and “Eighth”days- foreshadowing the fulfillment of the Sabbath by Christ and carrying the holy day of the week over to the day of his resurrection- Sunday, referred to as both the First Day and the Eighth Day, as written in some of the earliest extrabiblical writings.