Where is God?
The story told in Exodus chapter 32 is of the Israelites making a figure of a calf from gold, for which Moses then chastises them. He crushes the golden calf, grinding it into powder, casting it into the waters, and making them drink it. It is easy to justify the anger and chastisement in terms of their idolatry, but what of this strange aspect of having to ingest the gold dust?
According to a possible Jewish tradition, the Israelites wanted to have a physical representation of the God that had redeemed them from the bondage of Egypt so that they could show proper homage to him. They even called the calf ‘Yahweh’. By swallowing the gold of the false image, the representation of the presence of the God that they so earnestly sought would no longer be a physically external representation, but be part of their own body. It was no longer a representation of an external remote god, but an illustration of the indwelling of God in them. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).