On the mountain, or wherever
Moses climbed up Mount Sinai to meet God, who told him that his people needed to keep his covenant. Moses went back down and told the Israelites, and they said they would keep it. So Moses went back up the mountain and told God what they said. Then God said he was going to come and talk to Moses. Then Moses told God what the people had said, again.
God told Moses how the people should prepare for God to talk to Moses, and how Moses should keep the people away from the holy mountain while God was there. Then Moses went down and told the people what God had said. He also told them not to have sex during the visit from God, which God had not said anything about.
Moses stood at the foot of the mountain with the people and talked with God. Then Moses went up to the top of the mountain so God could talk to him. God told Moses to go and warn the people not to get too close to the mountain. Moses reminded the all-knowing God that they had already put limits around the mountain to keep people away, because God had told them to.
Then God told Moses to go down and get his brother Aaron. So he went down and told the people to stay away from the mountain, again. While Moses was down there with the people, God told them the Ten Commandments. But God was too scary, so the Israelites told Moses not to let God speak to them directly. So Moses went back up the mountain, and God gave him some more laws for Israel, so they would have more opportunities to sin. God thought that would help save people’s lives, but somehow it didn’t work.
Then God told Moses to come up the mountain with Aaron and some others. So Moses went down the mountain and told the people about all those laws. The people said they would obey them. Moses wrote down the laws, and then he came up the mountain with Aaron and some others. Then God told Moses to come up the mountain so he could give him the law. So Moses went up the mountain with his assistant, Joshua, leaving Aaron with the people. A week later, God started talking to Moses and giving him more instructions.
A festival to the Lord
The Israelites thought they saw a fire on top of the mountain, where Moses was staying for 40 days without eating or drinking. They didn’t know what had happened to him, so they got his brother Aaron to make them a calf idol out of their gold earrings. Then Aaron announced a festival to the Lord. So the people ate and drank and sang and danced and sacrificed burnt offerings.
Then God told Moses to go down to his people, and also to stand back so he could destroy his people, because they were worshipping an idol. But Moses pointed out that if God killed all the Israelites, he would be breaking his promise to Abraham, and the Egyptians would think God was evil. When the all-knowing, never-changing, all-good God heard this, he changed his mind and decided not to kill everybody. Then Moses and Joshua went down the mountain.
Moses has a cow
When Moses saw the golden calf, he was so angry that he broke the tablets of the law that God had given him. He ground the calf into powder and made the Israelites drink it. Moses asked Aaron what had happened. Aaron explained that the people had given him some gold jewelry, and he had thrown it into a fire, and then a calf came out!
When Moses, Aaron, and God saw the people celebrating their festival to the Lord, they thought the Israelites were becoming too evil. To fix that problem, they decided to tell the Israelites to murder each other. So Moses commanded all the Levites to go through the camp and kill their families and friends and neighbors with swords. Because they did this, killing about 3000 of God’s people, Levi became God’s special blessed tribe.
Then after God had forgiven his people, Moses went back up the mountain and lay facedown 40 more days without eating or drinking, and convinced God to forgive his people. So God struck the Israelites with a plague.
Moses broke the law
God told Moses to take the Israelites to the land of Canaan, which he had promised to give to Abraham’s descendants. But the ever-present God said he would stay behind. If the all-good, untemptable God went with the Israelites, he might not be able to stop himself from killing them all. But Moses convinced the never-changing God to go with them anyway, to make sure the Israelites would all die and people would think God was evil. Then after he convinced him, he tried to convince him again, but God ignored him.
God told Moses to bring two new stone tablets up the mountain, so that God could write on them the same laws that had been on the first tablets before Moses broke them. So Moses went up the mountain one more time, and God made Moses write down his laws, which were completely different from what God had written on the original tablets. Moses put the tablets inside the ark of the covenant, a chest that had been made by Moses or whoever, that had nothing else in it (aside from the other things that were in it).
The moral of the story
God loves murderers.