Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it. (Exodus 32:20)
As we said in yesterday’s devotion, there are always consequences when someone decides to break the terms of a covenant. In Bible speak, breaking covenant with God is likened to playing the harlot because He regards Israel as His betrothed and He is the jealous husband. The Ten Commands He gave to them at Sinai were equivalent to a ketuvah (marriage contract), and so, for His people to break them was considered to the same as a wife engaging in infidelity with another lover. When we understand this, then we can understand why Moses had the people drink the water polluted with the remains of their offensive idol.
In Numbers 5, the Bible describes a ritual that is employed when a husband has reason to believe that his wife has been unfaithful. Under oath she has to declare her guilt or innocence and then is made to drink water made bitter by the dust from the tabernacle floor. If she is guilty, there will be visible signs of her guilt, including a bloated belly. If you consider that those who had reveled and worshiped the calf were guilty of being unfaithful as a wife to a husband, the waters they were made to drink would indicate just who had been unfaithful and who had not. This may, in fact, help us to understand how the tribe of Levi knew who they were to slay and who was to be left alone — they were looking for bellies that had swelled up.
All of this is to remind us of who we are in Messiah — we are His betrothed and He is our Bridegroom. Consequently, we have a duty to be honorable and faithful, “forsaking all others” that we might be true to Him. There have always been those who “played the harlot” and, unfortunately, there will always be those who do right up until the end. In Revelation 17, John describes a woman (the Greek word also means “wife”) who is also regarded as a harlot. She is called that because she consorted with the kings of earth and is destined to be “burnt with fire” and her flesh “devoured.” The point, then is this: don’t follow that example. Instead, let us be faithful to keep our eyes and hearts upon our Messiah. Don’t let the seductions of this world lure us away from Him but stand fast in the call to be holy, pure and righteous.
Blessings and Shalom,