Consequences of Apostasy
After Israel had worshipped the golden calf, Moses broke the tablets of the law and then pronounced judgment upon the nation. Nonetheless, he also interceded for them and for Aaron, so that God would not destroy them. He then took the golden calf and destroyed it. Deuteronomy 9:21 says,
21 And I took your sinful thing, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that came down from the mountain.
This event occurred at the base of Mount Horeb, or Sinai, which Scripture locates in the land of Midian. Midian was on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba, which, along with the Gulf of Suez, were the two “fingers” of the Red Sea on either side of the Sinai Peninsula. Israel had to cross the Gulf of Aqaba on the far side of Sinai in order to reach the land of Midian and arrive at Horeb, where Moses had first encountered God in the burning bush while tending Jethro's sheep.
The Location of Mount Sinai
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:25 that Mount Sinai was “in Arabia.” The Sinai Peninsula was (and still is) a part of Egypt. Like Moses, Israel had to go to the other side of the Gulf of Aqaba in order to actually leave Egypt. Mount Horeb today is called Jabal al-Lawz, and it has been visited by a few who succeeded in entering the “closed” country of Saudi Arabia back in the 1970's and 1980's.
Among those who made the trip (illegally) was Ron Wyatt, who reported a stone structure in the plain at the base of the Mount which was inscribed with a number of Egyptian cattle. He believed that the Israelites placed the golden calf on this stone structure. Ron also said he found evidence that Moses ground this golden calf on the top of that same stone structure. Mary Nell Wyatt wrote later about this in a newsletter dated January 1994:
There was a positive gold reading in the area of the altar which contained the cow and bull petroglyphs. There was little doubt in Ron and Dave’s mind that this was the “golden calf’ altar which Aaron had constructed, because it was evident that the stones had been arranged. But there was another very exciting evidence: when Ron climbed upon the altar and looked over the top of it, something red and glimmering caught his eye. He saw that there was a slight puddle of water from the light, early morning shower on the rock and it looked almost like a puddle of blood. As he carefully examined this, he saw that this section of the rock had a slight, approx. 4’ x 6’ depression in it which looked as if something had worn or ground it down. Then, as he looked even closer, he saw that the “blood red” color reflected in the water was the result of tiny flecks of gold embedded in the entire worn area of the top of the rock. Although the Bible doesn’t explain this, it appeared to Ron that perhaps this was where Moses had ground down the golden calf into gold powder before he put it in the water for the people to drink.
A more complete account of this story is found in Exodus 32:20, where we learn the consequences of worshiping the golden calf.
The Divine Method of Judgment
Moses threw the gold dust into the brook coming down off the mountain and thus made the Israelites drink of it. The gold would have had an antiseptic effect, as would colloidal silver. In those days rulers and rich men drank from gold or silver cups, knowing somehow that this practice prevented sickness. They were unaware of the existence of bacteria, of course, but over time they had noticed the health benefits of gold and silver.
Symbolically, this probably represented the eradication of spiritual corruption through divine judgment. It may also represent the fact that God often judges men by “feeding” them with the same “food” that they have fed others. For instance, Isaiah 49:26 says,
26 And I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
In other words, the tyrants of the previous verse would be overthrown by other tyrants and treated in the same manner as they had treated people. This is rooted in the principle of an “eye for eye” (Exodus 21:24).
Likewise, Jeremiah speaks of the people masking their lawlessness (spiritual corruption) by treating them with wormwood and gall (i.e., opium and poppies) instead of with the “balm of Gilead” (Jeremiah 8:22). Therefore, God would judge them accordingly in Jeremiah 9:15,
15 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood [opium] and give them gall to drink.”
Opium does not heal the physical condition, but only masks the pain that reveals the underlying problem. Spiritually speaking, the people did not want to address the real problem, but sought only to escape the pain of sin's consequences (pain). Spiritual “opium” thus allowed the people to continue in sin without having to suffer the natural consequences of their sin. People do this today as well. They need to change remedies and apply the essential oil from the balsam tree, which grew in the land of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22).
So Moses fed the people with the dust from the golden calf, which in essence fed them with their own problem. In other words, if we want to sin, God will see to it that we get plenty of it so that we feel the painful effects of our own heart desires, as Jeremiah 2:19 says,
19 Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God....
This principle is also revealed in the fact that if we come to God wanting Him to approve of our sinful behavior, God may answer us according to the idol of our hearts, as shown in Ezekiel 14:1-11. Men's desire to be lawless causes them to reinterpret Scripture in a way that accommodates sin without guilt. God tells them, “Yes, by all means, go sin some more,” and men take this as a license to sin, rather than seeing it as a judgment of God. In this way God turns them over to their own corrupt and depraved minds (Rom. 1:28) in order that they might be judged by the natural consequences of their sin.
The Present Judgment
This is what is happening today in America and in many nations. The 1960's brought in the sexual revolution, and we now feel the pain of its effects with high rates of divorce and rampant pornography, prostitution, and adultery, with sexually transmitted diseases spreading nearly unchecked. Likewise, the nation legalized homosexual behavior, which led to an AIDS epidemic. Pharmaceutical companies then scramble to develop drugs to treat the symptoms and mask the pain, but have no ability to cure anything—nor do they really want to cure anything, because they make too much money on the spread of disease and wish to please their shareholders with greater profits.
The problem of physical and mental disease has spiritual roots. The lawlessness of the people, Moses says, results in divine judgment—including disease and mental illness. Deuteronomy 28:60 and 61 says,
60 And He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61 Also every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the Lord will bring on you until you are destroyed.
Disease often comes upon those who are not personally at fault. But because we are part of a sinful nation that has forgotten the laws of God, our food is not as nutritious as it ought to be. We eat things that were never meant to be used for food. We substitute chemicals for genuine fertilizer on the grounds that our bodies can handle small amounts of such things without running into health problems.
The government sets “safety standards.” But with the huge bombardment of thousands of different chemicals weakening us over time, many people cannot stand the stress of even small amounts of chemicals and pesticides. Thus the innocent often suffer, their DNA is altered, and their weaknesses are passed down to the next generation.
In the end, the problem is that we have constructed our own golden calf and have said with Aaron, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). We vote for leaders that we believe can give us prosperity instead of those who will affirm the right of Jesus Christ to rule the nation. We have made “gold” (money) our savior. We have said it is our own wisdom and strength that gave us independence and will sustain us. The people are flattered by politicians into thinking that they are their own gods in the earth, when, in fact, they really mean to dethrone Jesus Christ and put men in His place who rule by the laws of men.
For this reason, God has now ground our golden calf into dust and is making us eat and drink the consequences of our own ways. How long will it take the people to repent? I do not know, but things will only go from bad to worse until repentance is genuine. In my view, the people as a whole will NEVER repent until God intervenes and pours out His Holy Spirit in a massive “rain.” History shows that most men tend to continue in their lawless ways, and they die without understanding the cause of their disaster.
Yet I am confident that God will intervene in a marvelous way at some point, for many have interceded for America and for the whole world. They have obtained a favorable ruling from heaven, and so this outpouring of the Spirit is inevitable.