Exodus 32-36:1, 40; Leviticus 8-9, 16-17
The people, shortly after agreeing to worship God only, grew impatient as Moses “delayed” coming down from Mt. Sinai. So they asked Aaron, God’s priest, to make gods they could worship. Aaron fashioned their gold into a calf and built an alter for them to worship. God saw their religious prostitution and sent Moses down to them. He wished to destroy them, but Moses reminded God of all He had already done for Israel and the Lord’s anger cooled.
God would keep his promise to give His people a land, but He would not go with them. The Israelites repented and Moses begged God to relent. God showed His goodness to Moses and replaced the stone tablets that Moses had broken. In awe, Moses declared God’s goodness and worshipped him. Moses reminded the people of the importance of Sabbath and gave instructions on constructing the tabernacle. Exodus concludes with the tabernacle erected and God’s presence filling it visibly with a cloud by day and fire by night.
The passages in Leviticus are a stern reminder that sin is a serious matter that requires atonement. This includes specific instruction for priestly ordination and ministry, and especially for animal sacrifice. Sin offering, burnt offering, and fellowship offering were part of their community ritual now. But of them all, the Day of Atonement was the most sacred and holy. Each year, the community would gather to make atonement for their sin, and it was a foreshadow of Jesus’s once-for-all sacrifice.
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