Israel screwed up.
Moses was up on the mountain speaking with the Lord and receiving the Ten Commandments, which left Israel in the hands of Aaron, and Aaron jumped the gun. The people asked him to make gods for them to worship because Moses was still up on the mountain and they had no idea if he was ever coming down. Aaron lacked a spine and allowed it, so a golden calf was made and the people worshipped it.
Given that the first two commandments Moses received were about not having any gods but the God of Israel and not to bow down to idols, Israel was in deep trouble. The Lord was all ready to consume them and blot them out for this, choosing to make a nation of Moses’s descendants.
Moses does something quite amazing: he tells the Lord off for this and brings up the promise made to Abraham and Isaac and Israel to multiply their descendants like the stars in the sky. The Lord changes course and chooses not to blot out the nation of Israel.
The Exodus passage is a reminder to me of both the folly of making hasty decisions (making the golden calf because they did not know when/if Moses was coming back down) and the folly of making decisions when angry (blotting out the nation). Some of the worst decisions in my life have been ones when I have been forced to decide without ample time to think it over, or when I am angry enough that I jump the gun and make a decision that does not need to be made. There is wisdom to be found in praying things over and discerning a reasonable path forward.
Help us, O Lord, to weigh our choices and to seek your will in what we do, lest we make a decision in haste that is not in our best interest.