God says he will destroy the people because of their sin, but Moses intercedes for them. Then Moses descends from the mountain and sees the idolatry for himself.
So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.
Then Moses turned and went down the mountain. He held in his hands the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. These tablets were God’s work; the words on them were written by God himself.
When Joshua heard the boisterous noise of the people shouting below them, he exclaimed to Moses, “It sounds like war in the camp!”
But Moses replied, “No, it’s not a shout of victory nor the wailing of defeat. I hear the sound of a celebration.”
When they came near the camp, Moses saw the calf and the dancing, and he burned with anger. He threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain.
How could God relent? He had been ready to destroy the whole nation because of their sin. But Moses pleaded for mercy, and God spared them. Although we deserve God’s anger, he is abundantly merciful—willing to forgive and restore us to himself when we ask.
Moses, overwhelmed at seeing the people’s idolatry and revelry, broke the tablets containing the commandments. They had already been broken in the hearts and actions of the people. Righteous anger like Moses’ has its place. However angry Moses might have been, God was angrier still—he wanted to kill all the people. Anger at sin is a sign of spiritual vitality. Don’t squelch this kind of anger. But when you are justifiably angry at sin, be careful that you continue honoring God in the midst of it.
What commonly makes you angry? Is it when your rights are violated, or when your freedom is taken away? Do you ever get angry when you see others ignoring God’s commands? If not, why not? Ask God to show you when to be angry and when to forgive.