Question: What is the significance of the Red Sea and Golden Calf in the book of Exodus as it relates to their future implications?
In Exodus 14 , we see the scene made famous in Charlton Heston’s (real name: John Charles Carter) Ten Commandments. I must admit that even as a child when I was a Muslim, I found this scene fascinating. When I look back at the special effects aspect of it now, I must admit that it is quite primitive in its realism. That being said, the actual historic event that took place that day was enormous in its significance. It serves as a physical reminder of the literal, but more importantly spiritual, crossing over into freedom. It was a landmark event that paved the way for a new exodus of the people of God (Isaiah 40) and serves as a constant reminder of the deliverance from bondage and human failure (as some wanted to go back to a state of slavery). It reminds me of some people who grew up in the church and left. When asked why they don’t come back to Christ, they state that they realize coming back to Christ would require them to stop doing the sinful things they want to do. Humanity is unrepentant and forgetful of the joys of God and is naturally inclined to the desires of sin.
In Exodus 32 , we see the epitome of Israel’s sinfulness and unabashed forgetfulness in the form of idolatry. They had forgotten what God had done and turned away from God and His clear commandments. God’s 10 commandments were clearly laid out – the first 5 dealing with man’s relation to Yahweh and the later 5 ensuring a true community and in relations between fellow man. Commandment number 2 is broken and we continue to see this throughout Israel’s history, especially in the Northern Kingdom (for more information click here to see post on the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel).
Interestingly, in 1 Corinthians 10 , we see Paul’s reference to those who passed through the sea and also the idolatry of the Jewish forefathers. Paul calls the above 2 items out because “these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us”. Let us not forget what the Lord has done for us nor turn to other idols. We are created beings that have a need to worship; if it isn’t the true Triune God, it will be something else.1