Parallels Between the Golden Calf and the Fall (Week 18, Part 5/6) Exodus 24; 31–34 | Apr 25 – May 1 – powered by Happy Scribe
Exodus 32 features the account of Erin and the Israelites making and worshiping a golden calf while Moses was on top of the mountain.
While it may not be immediately obvious, this story has a lot of parallels with the Fall of Adam and Eve.
It illustrates in a really poignant way how the Israelite Tabernacle and future temple would bring about a reversal of the Fall and bring Israel into the presence of God. Both stories begin with the characters awaiting further light and knowledge and anticipating a new Covenant with the Lord in the Fall.
Adam and Eve’s actions preceded God coming down and introducing covenants so that Adam and Eve could return to God’s presence. In Exodus 32, the Israelites waited at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses received God’s new Covenant and instructions for building the Holy Tabernacle for God’s presence. In verse one of Exodus 32, the Israelites asked Aaron to make them gods, just as God indicated that Adam and Eve would become as gods if they partook of the forbidden fruit. And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the Mount, the people gathered themselves together unto errand and said unto him, Up Make us gods, which shall go before us. For as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we want not what has become of him.
Both God and Moses expected to return to find their people obeying the Commandments, but instead discovered that they had transgressed the law. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Israelites had taken part in idolatry. Both God and Moses discovered their people in their nakedness. Moses saw that the people were naked, for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies. When they inquired after the transgression, both Admen, Eve and the Israelites attempted to pass the blame on to someone else.
When God asked Adam what happened, he deferred the blame to Eve for giving him the fruit. Eve then pointed to the serpent and said that the serpent beguiled her. When Moses inquired after Aaron, he passed the blame to the Israelites, and Aaron said, Let not the anger of my Lord wax hot. Thou knowest the people that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, make us gods which shall go before us.
For as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we want not what has become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold? Let them break it off. So they gave it me. Then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
Both parties ingested a symbol of their transgression. Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, and Moses had the Israelites crush the golden calf into powder and drink it. Moses also had the unrighteous men punished, just as God bestowed curses on the serpent. Adam and Eve, the result of the golden calf episode and the fall was an estrangement from God. Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden.
And Moses had to break the tablets of the law. God’s relationship with his children was ruptured. In the Garden of Eden, God placed Cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way of the Tree of life. To prevent Adam and Eve from partaking of the fruit in their sins. While this initially sounds exclusive and Mary be a little threatening.
It can be read as an act of mercy. Had Adam and Eve achieved immortality in a sinful state. It would have been more like hell than heaven. By installing Cherubim, it ensured that when Adam and Eve do partake of the fruit of the Tree of life. It’s because they have been redeemed and are worthy to enter into eternal life.
The Lord performed a similar act of mercy by implementing Tabernacle and temple worship. The Lord gave Moses a Levitical law. That symbolized how Israel could reverse the effects of the Fall. And enter into God’s presence again. In the construction of the Tabernacle.
The Lord instructed that Cherubim be placed on the veil. To guard the way to the Holy of Holies. Where God’s presence dwelt the veil and the Cherubim made it so that only the high priest. Who was ritually purified, sanctified and worthy. Could enter into this space and provide redemption for all of Israel.
The Lord desired all of Israel to become a Kingdom of priests. And to dwell in his presence. So he instituted the Tabernacle and sacrificial offerings to enable Israel to enter his presence. Aaron, as the great prototypical high priest. Perhaps also represented Adam and Eve.
As he performed the expiatory and redemptive work. To bring Israel back into the presence of God. There may be times in our lives. When we make mistakes or mess up. And while it’s not fun to feel that sense of regret or loss.
Sometimes that’s just what we need to get us back on the right track. The Israelites fell short of their potential when they worshiped the golden calf. But Moses used that as an opportunity to compare them to Adam and Eve. By drawing connections to the Fall, Moses could show the Israelites how the temple could reconcile them back to God and draw them into his loving presence.