30 “You are to make an altar for the burning of incense; make it of acacia wood. 2 It must be square, eighteen inches long and eighteen inches wide;[a] it must be thirty-six inches high.[b] Its horns must be of one piece with it. 3 Overlay its top, all around its sides, and its horns with pure gold; make a gold molding all around it. 4 Make two gold rings for it under the molding on two of its sides; put these on opposite sides of it to be holders for the poles to carry it with. 5 Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.6 “You are to place the altar in front of the curtain by the ark of the testimony—in front of the mercy seat that is over the testimony—where I will meet with you. 7 Aaron must burn fragrant incense on it; he must burn it every morning when he tends the lamps. 8 When Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he must burn incense. There is to be an incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. 9 You must not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt or grain offering; you are not to pour a drink offering on it.10 “Once a year Aaron is to perform the atonement ceremony for the altar. Throughout your generations he is to perform the atonement ceremony for[c] it once a year, with the blood of the sin offering for atonement on the horns. The altar is especially holy to the Lord.”
The Atonement Money
11 The Lord spoke to Moses: 12 “When you take a census of the Israelites to register them, each of the men must pay a ransom for his life to the Lord as they are registered. Then no plague will come on them as they are registered. 13 Everyone who is registered must pay half a shekel[d] according to the sanctuary shekel (twenty gerahs to the shekel). This half shekel is a contribution to the Lord. 14 Each man who is registered, twenty years old or more, must give this contribution to the Lord. 15 The wealthy may not give more and the poor may not give less than half a shekel when giving the contribution to the Lord to atone for[e] your lives. 16 Take the atonement price[f] from the Israelites and use it for the service of the tent of meeting. It will serve as a reminder for the Israelites before the Lord to atone for your lives.”
The Bronze Basin
17 The Lord spoke to Moses: 18 “Make a bronze basin for washing and a bronze stand for it. Set it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet from the basin. 20 Whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister by burning an offering to the Lord, they must wash with water so that they will not die. 21 They must wash their hands and feet so that they will not die; this is to be a permanent statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations.”
The Anointing Oil
22 The Lord spoke to Moses: 23 “Take for yourself the finest spices: 12½ pounds[g] of liquid myrrh, half as much (6¼ pounds[h]) of fragrant cinnamon, 6¼ pounds of fragrant cane, 24 12½ pounds of cassia (by the sanctuary shekel), and a gallon[i] of olive oil. 25 Prepare from these a holy anointing oil, a scented blend, the work of a perfumer; it will be holy anointing oil.26 “With it you are to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, 27 the table with all its utensils, the lampstand with its utensils, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 Consecrate them and they will be especially holy. Whatever touches them will be consecrated. 30 Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them to serve me as priests.31 “Tell the Israelites: This will be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32 It must not be used for ordinary anointing on a person’s body, and you must not make anything like it using its formula. It is holy, and it must be holy to you. 33 Anyone who blends something like it or puts some of it on an unauthorized person must be cut off from his people.”
The Sacred Incense
34 The Lord said to Moses: “Take fragrant spices: stacte, onycha, and galbanum; the spices and pure frankincense are to be in equal measures. 35 Prepare expertly blended incense from these; it is to be seasoned with salt, pure and holy. 36 Grind some of it into a fine powder and put some in front of the testimony in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It must be especially holy to you. 37 As for the incense you are making, you must not make any for yourselves using its formula. It is to be regarded by you as holy—belonging to the Lord. 38 Anyone who makes something like it to smell its fragrance must be cut off from his people.”
God’s Provision of the Skilled Workers
31 The Lord also spoke to Moses: 2 “Look, I have appointed by name Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft 4 to design artistic works in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 to cut gemstones for mounting, and to carve wood for work in every craft. 6 I have also selected Oholiab[j] son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be with him. I have put wisdom in the heart of every skilled artisan[k] in order to make all that I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, the mercy seat that is on top of it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table with its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 the specially woven[l] garments, both the holy garments for the priest Aaron and the garments for his sons to serve as priests, 11 the anointing oil, and the fragrant incense for the sanctuary. They must make them according to all that I have commanded you.”
Observing the Sabbath
12 The Lord said to Moses: 13 “Tell the Israelites: You must observe my Sabbaths, for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, so that you will know that I am the Lord who consecrates you. 14 Observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. Whoever profanes it must be put to death. If anyone does work on it, that person must be cut off from his people. 15 Work may be done for six days, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord. Anyone who does work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites must observe the Sabbath, celebrating it throughout their generations as a permanent covenant. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the Israelites, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”
The Two Stone Tablets
18 When he finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God.
The Gold Calf
32 When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make gods[m] for us who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!”2 Aaron replied to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the gold rings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf.Then they said, “Israel, these are your gods,[n] who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it and made an announcement: “There will be a festival to the Lord tomorrow.” 6 Early the next morning they arose, offered burnt offerings, and presented fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to party.7 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. 8 They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” 9 The Lord also said to Moses: “I have seen this people, and they are indeed a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone, so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God: “Lord, why does your anger burn against your people you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out with an evil intent to kill them in the mountains and eliminate them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger and relent concerning this disaster planned for your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel—you swore to them by yourself and declared, ‘I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and will give your offspring all this land that I have promised, and they will inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord relented concerning the disaster he had said he would bring on his people.15 Then Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides—inscribed front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was God’s writing, engraved on the tablets.17 When Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.”18 But Moses replied:It’s not the sound of a victory cry
and not the sound of a cry of defeat;
I hear the sound of singing!19 As he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses became enraged and threw the tablets out of his hands, smashing them at the base of the mountain. 20 He took the calf they had made, burned it up, and ground it to powder. He scattered the powder over the surface of the water and forced the Israelites to drink the water.21 Then Moses asked Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you have led them into such a grave sin?”22 “Don’t be enraged, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know that the people are intent on evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make gods for us who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off,’ and they gave it to me. When I threw it into the fire, out came this calf!”25 Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them get out of control, making them a laughingstock to their enemies.[o] 26 And Moses stood at the camp’s entrance and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. 27 He told them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Every man fasten his sword to his side; go back and forth through the camp from entrance to entrance, and each of you kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand men fell dead that day among the people. 29 Afterward Moses said, “Today you have been dedicated[p] to the Lord, since each man went against his son and his brother. Therefore you have brought a blessing on yourselves today.”30 The following day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I will be able to atone for your sin.”31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32 Now if you would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book you have written.”33 The Lord replied to Moses: “Whoever has sinned against me I will erase from my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about; see, my angel will go before you. But on the day I settle accounts, I will hold them accountable for their sin.” 35 And the Lord inflicted a plague on the people for what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
There have been so many studies and articles written on the ever-shortening attention span people have; mostly attributed to the smartphone. But what if that isn’t all true? Maybe this is something mankind has had issues with since the beginning.
In chapter 32 we see the people’s attention quickly turn away from God on the mountain and towards their own god. Just a few short chapters back we saw all the people renewing their covenant with God saying they would follow all His commandments. What happened?
I know in my life there are so many times I can see God moving and providing for me and then a few days later I’m asking Him where He has been. How can our attention span be so short on the creator of the universe and our savior? Focus on Him. Focus on His faithfulness. Focus on His Good.