Exodus 32:1-10 ~ Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! 1Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”
The golden calf…how many of these do I have in my own life? How many times have I substituted the authentic for the flashy alternative? God desires us to set our eyes on Him…and only Him. The watering down of who God is is an abomination to God…the passages following this instance show this with poignant accuracy. It wasn’t the calf necessarily that was the issue, that was just the outward sign of how far they had gone astray. They were fully reliant on Moses to tell them what they should believe and do. Then when Moses went away for a period of time, they needed to be told once again what to do, so they went to Aaron. Out of desperation, only to appease the crowd, Aaron came up with the only thing he could think of…and one of the things the people were familiar with.
The core of the issue surrounds the lack of self-reliancy of the people in their faith. In a way, they really didn’t know in their hearts why they were doing the things they were doing while under Moses’ care. I know I’ve had times like this. I remember back in college, I was taking a Chemistry 2 course. What needs to be understood, though, was that I was not a Chemistry student, I was Mechanical Engineering. Chemistry was a mystery to me. I would essentially memorize the periodic table and the just answer the questions on the test from what I had memorized. I knew the material, but I didn’t understand the material. There’s a HUGE difference. I could pass (barely) a Chemistry Exam, but I would never be able to independently work or succeed in that career. This wasn’t because I just didn’t have the personality or talent to become a Chemist, it’s because I didn’t take the time to truly understand what was going on at a deeper level.
I never want my walk with God to be on this “surface” level. I want to understand who God is and know why I worship. I mustn’t be purely dependent on anyone other than God for it’s leading. I just don’t want to know the right answers or subscribe to the right habits without truly understanding who it is I’m following. Are the “what to do’s” and “how to do’s” important? Absolutely!!! But without the deeper “why”, how do know if all my efforts aren’t just focused on Golden Calves?