And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.
There’s a world of difference between hearing about an evil and watching it unfold before your very eyes, isn’t there? God just told Moses exactly what these people were up to in the valley, expressing His own fiery anger at their unabashed betrayal, but Moses effectively responded, “Wait, Lord—give them the benefit of the doubt! You know how stiff-necked they are; don’t give up on them just yet!” But his demeanor rapidly changes the moment he hikes back down from Sinai’s summit, steps out into the clearing, and catches a glimpse of the abhorrent acts God just finished relaying. Just like that, all that mediatorial sympathy from the previous verses crumble into falling stones.
Moses is holding the most precious stones in the entire cosmos, stones that bear God’s hand-written testimony on them, yet he shatters them like glass without even blinking an eye. And I don’t think it’s because he knows God can just write new ones. I just think the weight of disgust over the atrocities of obstinate people is too heavy for his shoulders. We’re the same, aren’t we? If God ever gave us a direct glimpse into the travesties, the rapes, the blasphemies, the demon-inspired revelries that are taking place in the valley of the shadow of death at this moment, we’d go on a rampage of our own. We’d lose our minds instantly, probably race out our doors with ash-filled waters too, maybe shatter the objects in our vicinity, because the weight of so much evil is too unfathomable—too unbearable.
But friend, this bitter cup of Exodus 32 is only foretaste of the cup our Savior drinks at Calvary, just a sample of that ash-filled, polluted, vile, disgusting cup of our lustful thoughts and selfish words and violent deeds that Christ drinks down to the very last drop.
And offers back to us as wine!