Part 2 is here, part 1 is here
The mountain was the destination, the purpose of the exodus. The people were called out of Egypt to go to the mountain to worship God.
Then something went bad. Very bad.
While at the foot of the mountain they heard God's voice, and it terrified them. It scared them so much that they decided they didn't want to hear from God anymore. That was Moses' job, not theirs. So they sent him up to talk to God while they waited.
You have to wonder how long that was. Apparently for some it was far too long, they got bored. They got so bored in fact that they had time to cast an idol out of gold. THink of how much time and effort that would have taken. Finding a craftsman, collecting the cold, melting it, molding it. THis was no spur of the moment decision.
They had encountered the real and livng God, but He was too much for them. THey wanted a tamer God. One they could see, one they could control. They made a calf.
How stupid that seems when we look at it. We with our vast knowledge and understanding of God. Yeah....right...
How many times have we been touched byt he breath of God and turned away? How many times have we felt real worship, have we joined with heaven itself in praise to the King, and then decided it was too uncomfortable. Too unpredictable. Too lavish. Too eccentric. Too whatever.
I'm not saying we should (or even can) continually live in that space, in that moment where there is God and nothing else. As wonderful as it would seem, we couldn't survive in that space, it's not where we're supposed to be, at least not yet. As important and wonderful as praise is, we should be more like Isaiah, crying "woe is me" as we experience the presence of God, offering to be sent out in His name so that we may be welcomed back to praise when our time has come.
Still, worship is neglected. Real, true authentic connections with God scare us. THey're unpredictable. THey're not "seeker friendly", they don't fit the time frame. Heck, sometimes connecting with God doesn't even fit in the church building.
There is a deep need for God and at the same time a deep fear of Him. Perhaps is the residue of our sin nature, perhaps it's just the result of our humanity, I don't know. I do know, however, that there is a tendancy to try and create worship instead of experiencing worship. THe Israelites did do what they were supposed to - they worshiped. It was the object, the method, the content of that worship that needed to change. Perhaps the same is true in our lives.