Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 30

The Gold Calf


Today's Text: Exodus 32:1-35, 1 Kings 12:26-28

Scripture Reading: Exodus 32:1-35, 1 Kings 12:26-28

I love browsing through my childhood photographs with my daughters. It brings me such joy to watch their facial expressions as they grapple with the realization that their Mommy was once a little girl just like them. We compare hairstyles, shoes, and favorite poses. I share the stories and memories of each photo, and inevitably, we laugh at how much I’ve changed.

Every once in a while, when the laughter settles, the reality hits me that the little girl in the photographs had no idea of the future her heavenly Father had in store for her. I wish I could look my younger self in the eyes and tell her so many things. Mostly, I wish she would have believed God’s Word and used it as the foundation of her actions and the blueprint for her future.

There is just no doubt about it: God’s Word is true and every word in it is written to teach, lead, protect, encourage, and draw His children into a life with Him. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Like the Israelites at the bottom of Mount Sinai, I can become impatient and choose my own truth to follow. Throughout my life, I have had vivid memories of seasons where God’s Word, His voice, and His presence just seemed too far out of reach. It is in these seasons when my heart wanders; trusting His plan for good in my life becomes harder and harder.

It seems harsh, but it’s true: I’ve created golden calves of my own. When God seems far away, it becomes much easier to place my trust, faith, and hope in other things that are seemingly more tangible—my career, marriage, children, or excessive entertainment, just to name a few. This truth makes me even more grateful for God’s grace and the many opportunities He gives me to turn my eyes and heart back toward Him and toward the truth of His Word.

And so even when my heart becomes heavy, when my impatience and anxiousness lead me to believe God’s presence is off somewhere in the distance, God is calling me to remember that He is at work in my life and in all things. He has given us His very real presence in Jesus Christ and the very real truth of His Word.

Although I cannot go back and talk to myself as an impatient teenager, a faltering twenty-something, or an anxious new mother, I choose to remain grateful that God’s Word is true. The tablets Moses brought down to the Israelites “were the work of God, and the writing was God’s writing” (Exodus 32:16). Even now, He is writing a continual story of grace, regardless of our ability to see it in the moment. But as we learn to trust Him more, we find that His grace is never-ending, His forgiveness abounding, and His love unwavering.


Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You, a resource ministry for both tween girls and their parents. The mother of four girls herself, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip women of all ages in becoming who God created them to be, and to support parents in raising strong Christ followers. She is the author of several books, including You’re God’s Girl Devotional and She Is Yours: Trusting God As You Raise the Girl He Gave You.  Wynter, her husband Jonathan, and their daughters (ages 7-13) live in Dallas, Texas. Follow her on Instagram @forgirlslikeyou.

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  • Nancy Crouch Morlini

    I found the He Reads Truth commentary for this day very enlightening also. Neither tackle the vengeance of God though which is an ongoing wrestling point for me.

  • Anna Gleichman

    Such a good reflection. It’s so easy to forget this and find ourselves prioritizing the blessings in our lives. I find myself doing this with relationships, money etc. So important to remember to worship the Creator, not the creations.

  • The answer to the violence is in Exodus 32: 26. Moses asked everyone who is on God’s side to come to him and only the sons of Levi joined Moses.

  • Why the violence? Why did murdering others bring a blessing on the Levites? I have trouble understanding God in this context.

    • Bek

      Hi Sarah, I think this is a really important question and we need to wrestle with it. At different times I have found this and other occasions like it extremely troubling. 2 things help me understand more about God in this context. (1) He is holy and the “wages of sin is death.” Yes it is extremely harsh, but it is also just. It’s a harshness and justice that saw the innocent Christ butchered on the cross. (2) I think God did this because it was necessary to his plan of salvation. If Israel was full of people who could abandon God for a golden calf after everything they had seen him do, there was not much hope of the blessing “all nations will be blessed through you” to come to pass. Time and again Israel fails very badly and things look dicey for this promise many, many times. I wonder if it would have even been possible without the removing (yes, by the harshness of death) the Israelites who has turned their backs on God at this early stage of the salvation narrative. I hope that makes sense. It may be off the mark- it just occurred to me then and I am no scholar. But I wanted to share my thinking with you. Thanks for asking the tough questions.

    • Ruth Gordon

      I know what you mean… I cringe and stru

    • Ruth Gordon

      I’m sorry, that posted before I meant to. I meant to say I cringe and struggle every time God’s wrath seems too severe to me… as it often does in the Bible. But I think this makes me realize that sin is far more serious and deserving of God’s wrath than I realize. To take it a step further, remember that God had just shown mercy by not completely destroying all the people, because Moses pleaded for mercy. So, the Israelites deserved worse than this. We just read through all the elaborate rituals and sacrifices that the Israelites had to do in order to atone for their sins. And we read that Aaron and his sons had to follow the law’s instructions perfectly when they entered the Holy Place, or they would die. (Ch. 28 v. 35 and 43) The people if Israel could not touch mount Sinai when God met with Moses, or they would die. (Ch. 19:12-13) I think all these examples teach us just how holy and pure God is, and that sin can’t stand in his presence. How amazing it is, then, when we read in Mathew 27:51 that, when Jesus died, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” The veil that separated the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, from us, was torn wide open! Jesus makes all the difference! Because he has satisfied the wrath of God for us, we sinners are God’s children and can run into his presence with no fear.

  • Today’s lesson was powerful for me as reading this chapter in Exodus, I felt so angry at the Israelites for being impatient and for choosing to worship a calf instead of their mighty God who had already done so many amazing things for them. And what about Aaron, why was he so quick to also turn his back on God. Peer pressure? But then I realize, I do this too just as Wynter describes above. Other “things” get in the way of following God and I lose site of Him while my focus is on something else. Draw me back to you dear Jesus in those times when I start to wander off. Thank you for being the One to forgive my sin because of your immense love for me.

  • Peony Noirr


  • Jo Gistand

    Is t it so easy to put other gods before God? I have to fight daily to put HIM first. And he is so merciful to me.

  • Sabrina Michelle

    Awesome reminder this morning, place no other gods before the Father. Rest in the finished works of Jesus and Holy Spirit help me along the way.

  • Megan Hawker

    God’s plans for us is bigger than our own. This was a good reminder for me to trust in Him & let Him lead the way.

  • I think because we are going through Exodus as a whole, it really struck me how disobedient and ignorant the Israelites (us) were/are.
    No less then 8 chapters before, God was telling the Israelites how to worship Him and how to use all the things they got out of Egypt for HIS house. And what do they do? They get impatient and totally ignore what they were just told to do.
    Wow. I do the same thing.
    I get impatient when the Lord says “I know the plans I have for you…” I want it NOW and in the end create my own “golden calves .”
    By reading the previous chapters about the building of the tabernacle had a BIGGER impact for me on this “golden calves” story. We tend to go from the “10 Commandments” story straight to this. But see how much important stuffs are we missing when we skip over all the other “details.” I am so glad we are doing this study, it really has opened my eyes to how many details God has for our lives.

  • It hit me today that the Egyptians made an idol out of something that God gave them: the earrings made from the Egyptians’ gold. I’m Exodus 3:21-22 God told Moses, “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

    How many times have I turned a blessing or gift from God into an idol? A relationship, a job, financial blessings, success – those are just a few things that we so easily turn into idols when we give them first place in our lives. Praying that God will reveal any idols in my life this week as I pray and reflect on this reading.

    • Jena

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! This really blessed me!

    • Angela G

      I was thinking about this too. The gold God had given them was suppose to be used for HIS glory, but instead they used it to form their own god. This gold was suppose to be fashioned by the artist that God had inspired to create things for His temple. But instead, they just created something out of their own imagination.
      I love how you brought to today. Yes, how many times have I taken a blessing from God and made it into my own idol? How many times have I taken something God has given me to use for his purpose but instead use it for my own?
      Really good point you brought out Kristi.

    • Elena

      Wow, that was a great reflection. Thank you for sharing. I don’t think I put much thought to the jewelry they used to make the idol being a gift God intended to bless them

  • Really appreciated this today, thank you. Currently feel like I’m in limbo, about to leave home in sept for the first time to study something I’ve never done before and live in a place I don’t know. Feelings of anxiousness arise and all these choices lie in front of me, this reminded me that during this waiting time to really focus on the foundation- what will lie beneath all these choices and the wisdom to keep making the correct choices which will glorify God. Many thanks

    • ARB

      I am currently going through “100 Days to Brave” by Annie Downs. It is 100 days of 2 minute snippets of Truth that are focused on diving in, being brave, and remembering whose you are. Just thought I would pass this along as encouragement.

  • I know your reply was in response to Lou, but feel it was written directly to me. It’s exactly what I need to be reminded of today as I too am in an unending season of waiting. Thank you!

  • This is exactly what I needed to read today! My husband and I have been living in a trailer for over a year now while we wait for our house to be built. What we thought would only take a few months (it’s a tiny house), has taken much, much longer and more money than we anticipated. Back in September my husband broke his leg, and we were both devastated. This was not part of our plan!! We had so many projects to do on our property that required him to be mobile. We couldn’t see why the Lord would allow this to happen to us. But, so many people reached out, stepped up to help us, and prayed for us. We truly felt His love for us through the love we were shown by our family, friends, and even strangers. Now, six months later, my husband’s leg is healing, he is able to walk with just barely a limp, and our house is almost finished. Today’s reading is such a good reminder of how fickle and impatient we can be when things aren’t going our way or as quickly as we want them to. God’s timing is perfect!

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you so much for sharing this Sara! We’re so grateful that you’re here. -Margot, The SRT Team

  • I have been in a very, very, very long period of waiting. I’m so tired of it. I’m so tired of myself. I’m struggling to believe that God is in all things. I try not to compare to others lives cos that is theirs and not mine. Yet it is hard to see everyone around me over and over again things happening and changing in their lives for good. Yet still I wait. And while I wait the only changes are eventful difficult things that aren’t positive. I’m at the point where I wonder, Why?

    • MB

      Lou, hang on to His unfailing word. Psalm 27:12-13 I am confident of this, I will SEE the GOODNESS of the Lord in the land of the LIVING. Be strong and take heart and WAIT on the Lord. I am waiting as well. Weary, tired, questions that are unaswered as well….BUT WAIT, for He will surely come through. As a lyric from a song by JJ Weeks Band reminds us…if your morning hasn’t come then your story isn’t done so look a little higher. Stay encouraged. Praying that He shows Himself strong on your behalf today.

      • Katie

        Thank you both for sharing. As I await answers, direction, your comments are such encouragement and light. And just the presence of this mass of Christ-seeking women, spread across the country/world, gives me courage to wait. Courage to seek. Courage to believe answers are coming, and God is working all things together for my good because I love Him.

      • Lou

        Thank you MB. Praying for you as you wait too.

    • Jena

      Lou – I’d love to encourage you with this verse – Psalm 40:1-2 I waited and waited and waited some more,
      patiently, knowing God would come through for me.
      Then, at last, he bent down and listened to my cry.
      2 He stooped down to lift me out of danger
      from the desolate pit I was in,
      out of the muddy mess I had fallen into.
      Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place
      and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.

      I studied the other week and saw something I had never seen before. It may seem like in all your waiting you are not getting ahead. But something happens as you have faith and continually wait – God LIFTS you up into a secure place. Takes you out of that pit and places you in a HIGHER place and a sure foundation. ONE that ONLY HE can give. Any progress you would have made on your own would still be nothing in comparison to what He has already planned for you! You are not missing out, you are not behind, you are not getting the short end of the stick – when He comes it will be a LIFT to you, your life, and STABILITY. I pray this verse can be used as a boost of faith and confidence that God has not forgotten about you! Nope, He has prepared a time of LIFT and STABILITY for your future. Keep believing and keep going. It is not over, sister!

      • K.B.

        Thank you! So much! Lou, know that I, too have been in a prolonged period of waiting. I pray that you know you are not alone and I trust that the Lord will show himself mighty in HIS perfect timing! Thank you Jena! Your word of encouragement was a blessing to me as well! I’m so grateful for the SRT community! You all are such a blessing!!!

      • Lou

        Thank you Jena for your faithfulness and pointing to God’s word for me. I have saved all these responses and will keep reading them.

  • Jennifer Schmidt

    Thanks! That’s helpful.

  • Christa Walker

    I’m thinking about my own life and how I am in danger of forging idols in the fires of panic and desperation, when the truth is that God is always present with me and provides me with what I need.

  • Jennifer Schmidt

    I don’t understand the part about the Levites being instructed to each kill someone. Will need to read some commentaries on that.

    • Faith Daniels

      It has always been helpful to me to realize that we’re reading a book that was written in a different time with high cultural influence. Whether they wanted to or not, the Israelites were influenced by surrounding religions. And surrounding religions had warrior like/punishing gods. So, likewise, they wanted God to be that way. There writings reflect that because they can’t help it. God clearly shows himself in Jesus as His entirety. The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns is an amazing book for this study!

  • I’m understanding it! That’s where I am right now. Wanting things to hurry up and get better now! I’ve been on this journey for months now and at times I’m so discouraged and other times I’m filled with joy. I know God is working on HIS time. I must say because of God, I and only because of God and HIS faithful people around me I am where I am today

    • KimN

      Sending you much love and continuing to pray for you Mari!! Keep your eyes on Him. He loves you and wastes nothing. He can use all things to His good purpose. Those were some of my anchor points during my walk along a similar road as yours! Hugs!! xoxo

  • Kelly Chataine

    Update: My husband has 5 more weeks of rehab. He still deals with dizziness, balance issues, getting ill, and weakened physical strength. Most days are good days for him. Thanks be to God! I returned to teaching, yesterday but just for the afternoons.
    Last evening I had to go to the emergency room due to a kidney stone ripping through me. I call it PJ. I haven’t passed it yet but expect to sometime today or tomorrow.
    This past weekend, a former student of mine, Hunter, passed away. He was 21. He had faith in our Lord! Praise God! His parents are strong in the Lord! Praise God! My heart is a little broken but I am mostly praising God for Hunter’s faith! It is the only thing that truly matters!
    Let us all remember, God is near to us, He does not move away from us. May we always check our proximity to Him and ever be close!

    • Mari

      Oh Kelly thank you for the update and sorry for the loss of your student however it’s his great gain that’s wonderful this child at home. And I hope you get well soon

      • Kelly Chataine

        Thank you! God is good all the time, all the time God is good!

    • Rachel

      Thank you for the update! So sorry for PJ’s bullying of your body :P and the loss of your student. Those are hard things in an already difficult season. Will continue to pray that your husband’s brain creates new pathways and that you get more of him back every day. xx

    • KimN

      Praying that our Father continue to hold you close Kelly! That’s a lot going on so I pray that peace of our Saviour would rule over your heart today and in the days to come. That there would be healing of the body for your husband and yourself as well of your heart and the hearts of Hunter’s family. xoxo

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for sharing Kelly! We’re continuing to pray for you and your husband during this time. -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Heather Shores

    Thank you to those who prayed for me yesterday. Hope you see this. Realize I almost just about said something similar. Oh well. Thankful for this community of Godly women.

  • Heather Shores

    I’m going through a very very bad break from a relationship that seemed Godly but that was actually manipulative and hurtful. I could use prayer today. There are painful moments and there have been moments of feeling God,s arms around me. Praying that He sees me through today listening to lots of scripture reading.

    • GramsieSue

      He is with you and He has a perfect plan for you. Praying for your peace and comfort today, Heather ❤️

    • Laura Serrato

      Praying for Heather! Stay tucked in close to His wing sister, He will be faithful to you. ❤️

    • KimN

      I’m sorry Heather. I’m thankful you aren’t a part of something harmful anymore but that certainly doesn’t make things easier. God is with you and for you. Turn your eyes to Him and keep your focus there. He has much to teach you through this season that you may in turn comfort someone else!! Praying that our Lord wraps His arms around you and holds you close today. Hugs and love to you. xoxox

    • Mary Hairston

      So tough. I have walked through a painful breakup too. My sister wrote a book called Brokenhearted (by Sarah Jones—it’s on Amazon—pink cover). It is so encouraging, biblical, and practical. I hope and pray God brings healing to you, but oh, the present pain can be so hard.

  • JoAnne Hart

    This passage challenges me so much and I find I’m left with so many more questions than answers. I’m in a season right now (and have been for awhile) of transition, and there are some possibilities on the horizon I’m praying hard for. I’m trying to be careful to not make any of them idols. I’m trying to remember I’m complete in God, not in my successes.

    • Evelyn Fahle

      I am going through a season of more questions than answers as well Joanne, but I find that if I write my questions down and ask God to answer them for me He always does if I live expectantly, don’t give up hope, and stay in the Word.. sometimes the answers come differently than I anticipate, but He gives discernment and wisdom regardless.

      “You will seek me & find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ declares the Lord” Jeremiah 29:13-14

      “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure- not I. Your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing.” Jeremiah 10:23-24

  • Jennifer Reusser

    This really hit home for me today. Today is my 39th birthday. Prior to opening up this study, I spent time reflecting and journaling what God has been doing in my life over the last several years. I have been denying a word that was spoken over me some 16 years ago. I’ve thought about this word, reflected over it, but I don’t believe that I truly grasped it and accepted it. I’ve put “idols” of my own ideas, expectations, plans before God. I too have wanted to go back and tell that 22 yr old that His word is true, He is faithful, and He is worth it! Today I am once again reminded that destroying those idols and focusing on God is the only perfect place to be.

  • Laurie Rose

    This part of Moses’ story always scared me as a child. It didn’t make sense to me that with God so close to them that they would create such an obvious idol. God’s anger is surprising to me too. Moses had to talk him down and remind him of his promises. Would this be an example of Christ interceding for us? Does God get this angry with us now?

    • Elizabeth Guertin

      Remember that God is also love. The outcome of God’s anger and decisions did not lay with Moses’ words to God. God already knew what would happen, He did use Moses for His purposes, though. There are some trusted books and resources (The Gospel Coalition) that have helped me to understand passages like this in the OT that look to us like God is angry throughout it and without love.

    • Catie

      Not necessarily, Jesus took on all the wrath that the lord had for his people. But God is certainly to be feared in a proper way which is always a confusing concept and always worth learning about. The wrath Is no longer ours who have Jesus and salvation; “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. God perfectly wrote the part of the story of Moses pleading with him but His heart does not change even if it seems his mind changed. He shows in this way that he is loving, gracious, heard our prayers, but desperately wants the best for his people and is incredibly grieved when they openly choose other things despite all He’s done for them. Hope this helps!

    • Bridget Sabbath

      Right. Moses attempted to atone for the sins of the people but Christ atoned for the sins of all people, so essentially it’s a clean slate. Also understanding the anger of God in the OT has to acknowledge He was always loving too like Elizabeth said. And the people of that time would’ve understood a God that was angry or jealous, it was not abnormal.

    • Maggie Nowell

      Moses is not the only one who “reminds” God of His promises. I heard in a recent sermon that He wants us to do so. He doesn’t forget. It is part of the act and relationship involved in prayer. Just like the requests we bring…He knows want we need but wants us to speak those needs and desires, deepening our relationship and dependence on Him. This thought has been a help to me recently as I am closer to stepping into something I have been hoping for, so reminding God of His promises is encouraging!

    • Lorri Stringer

      Elizabeth, thank you, that is a great point. Could you recommend one or two of those books!

    • Jennifer Douberly

      I really love the subtle change when God calls them “YOUR people YOU brought out of Egypt” and then Moses is like “you mean YOUR people YOU brought out of Egypt!” It reminds me of the same thing with the prodigal son when the brother says “YOUR son is back” and the father says “YOUR brother who was dead is alive”. It just makes me think about how important it is to be praying on behalf of Gods people and our fellow brothers and sisters instead of seeing them as “other” or “us vs. them”.

  • Leigh AnneAkey

    God is writing on my heart His plans for new ministry opportunities. My prayer is that I listen and trust without doubting that He can really do this through me.

  • Sarah Marshall

    This really had me thinking this morning about what I’ve turned into a golden calf in my life. If I’m not careful, so many things could turn into idols in my life.

  • Wendy McSwain

    God, reveal our sin and forgive us when we put anything in your place. You are the God who brought us out of Egypt. No other thing, person, concept, or possession can ever compare to your glory.

  • Denise Powers Fabian

    Oh, Lord, forgive me for my golden calves of security, comfort, and the approval of man. You have rescued me so many times…forgive me for the times I have totally demolished the words you have written for me in Your Word. I am convicted today regarding some things I must change. Help me to feel supported and help me to know there are others out there who struggle and can come by my side to encourage me.

  • anne jones

    God help me remember that not only is your timing perfect; help me to trust that you are also preparing me and getting me ready/changing me when I am not there yet to receive the answers to my prayers.

  • Churchmouse

    Satan uses time to discourage God’s people. The Israelites in today’s Scripture grew weary of waiting on Moses. We mistakenly think we have been waiting too long and that God has somehow forgotten us. But we do not know where we are on the continuum of answered prayer. We may very well be much closer than we think. And God does not waste those waiting minutes. He uses them to test our endurance, to enable us to lean heavier in to Him, to make the answer all the sweeter for the patience and trust we have had to develop. Answered prayer is a gift but so are the lessons mined in the delay. Lord, help me to appreciate the season of waiting on You. Amen.

  • Kiera Bohan

    This brought me to tears this morning. The reminder that God has a plan in my life that is so far beyond my comprehension is so incredible. Today I am identifying my “golden calves” and hoping to remove them from my priorities lists with the help and grace of God

    • Kay

      Kiera, that is such an important prayer…to identify the”golden calves” in our lives and remove them from our “priority lists.” YES! and AMEN!

  • Jessica McCreary

    Great reminder of Gods never ending grace!

  • Thank you, Dear God for your unending love, kindness, and goodness to us! I love what she said about God continuing to write our stories! Please listen to this powerful song about His pursuit of us! https://youtu.be/Sc6SSHuZvQE It’s called Reckless love. If the link doesn’t work, just type it in on YouTube. It’s worth listening too, but try the link first.

  • Tochi Heredia

    When things aren’t going my way and they are taking longer than I want them to, I try to take matters into my own hands. If it was up to me, I’d never have to wait for anything, everything would always require the minimum effort, my relationships would never be messy, and I’d always feel qualified to do what’s in front of me.
    Yet looking back into my life, I can see that it was in those moments of waiting, hurt and feeling incompetent that I grow closer to God and more dependent on Him. I’m thankful this morning that when life feels messy, it actually extremely organised, because it is the way He planned it to be.
    Father, help me to always remember that you’re at near. Thank you for putting my life into order.

    Sisters, I am happy to share with you all that, after 5 months into moving to London and searching for a job, I am starting work tomorrow! God is good.

  • Bernice Wall

    So excited to be starting this with my girlfriends!

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