Pentateuch: Exodus 32-40

A study on the book of Exodus

Learn how you can use the guide here.

The Bible is filled with promises of God’s blessing for us. God desires to give us many good things. The beginning of Exodus tells us that God desired to deliver His people from slavery and to give them a land that is filled with milk and honey. What an amazing gift coming from an amazing God!

However, what happens when the gift seems to take longer than usual to come to us, or when we find out that we might not be receiving that gift after all? Do we still desire to wait on God in trust? Do we still desire a relationship with Him? What do we really cherish – is it the gift, or the Giver?

The final chapters of Exodus led us to witness another episode of idolatry. Israel, once again, sinned against God, amidst the backdrop of God’s instructions for the Tabernacle – His dwelling place among His people. The rebellion created a crisis that called into question not only the covenant and God’s presence with His people but also their continued existence. How could the presence of God’s glory dwell amidst the stiff-necked people? Would He leave? Would He destroy them? The surprising dimensions of God’s grace can be seen, to an extent, within the dialogues. 

Pre-Video Reading

Read Exodus 32-40.

Watch the video

Application Questions

  1. Read Exodus 32:1-6.

    a. What attitude did the people of Israel have towards Moses in his delayed return?

    b. Aaron used the gold rings to fashion the golden calf. What were these gold rings originally meant for?

    c. What could be a possible reason for Aaron’s willingness to go along with the requests of the people, even though he might have been aware that this was an issue of idolatry (see verses 21-24)?

  2. Read Exodus 32:7-14.

    a. What was the real consequence of Israel’s sin?

    b. How does prayer work in the case of Exodus 32?

  3. Read Exodus 33-34:9.

    a. Read verses Exodus 33:1-6. Did God allow Israel to enter the Promised Land?

    b. However, was this a blessing from Him this time around? Why, or why not?

    c. Read verses 12-17. Was Moses keen to enter the Promised Land according to the terms that God had stated in verses Exodus 33:1-6? Why, or why not?

    d. What did Moses want most (see verses 15-18)?

    e. What do you think qualified Moses to make such strong petitions to God, and have them granted (see verses 7-11)?

  4. Based on your findings in questions 2 and 3, consider:

    a. Is it possible to “change God’s mind” and impact events in history through prayer?

    b. What, or who do you think “changes God’s mind”?

  5. Read Exodus 34:11-26. What is the common theme amongst these laws that God has mentioned, and how do these laws contrast with the sin that Israel had committed in Exodus 32?

  6. Read Exodus 40:34-38. In what way is God’s glory filling His dwelling at the climatic point of Exodus?

Closing Reflection

The lengthy description of the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle closed the climactic narrative of the rebellion and the revelation in Exodus 32-40. Although Israel was sinful and stubborn, God forgave them and came down from Heaven to dwell among them. 

The book of Exodus is a story of redemption from bondage, and stepping into a new life as God’s people. It is a story of Israel, and as we study it we find that it is also a story of our journey with God. We can be saved, but the rest of the journey involves obedience, trust, and abiding by His principles and laws.

We have also learned that while it is great to be saved, we can continue to walk at a distance from Him like Israel did, or walk in His favour and friendship like Moses did. As we examine our relationship with God today, are we more like Israel or Moses?

Prayer: Connecting with God

If it is your desire to cultivate a strong friendship with God that gives us the standing to change history through impactful prayer, why not start with a simple and humble one? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any adjustments you can make to your current lifestyle so that you might be able to make room to cultivate this friendship. Take heart and believe that God sees the hearts of those who desire to abide closely with Him, and is willing to give anything to those who ask (John 15:7).