“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. 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.” (Exodus 32:1 ESV)
If this story was not so sad it would be wildly humorous. The Israelites have been waiting at the bottom of the mountain to hear from the Lord. They have already promised that “all the words that the LORD has spoken we will do” (Ex. 20:3). Then Moses jaunts up the mountain to receive the word of the Lord.
Hours turn into days.
Days turn into weeks.
Weeks turn into a month.
Finally, the people at the foot of the mountain call together a meeting and say, “Let’s face it…this Moses chap…who really knows what has happened to him. He’s not coming back down from that mountain. We liked his vision, we liked his idea about being in covenant with this YHWH, but seriously guys this is taking a REALLY long time. Can’t you just make us a god so that we can worship, we’re too tired of waiting on YHWH.”
So Aaron follows the people and they take up a missions offering, throwing their gold into the offering plates. When the ushers gather together they give all their prosperity to Aaron who then crafts it into a golden calf. I assume they called this idol something similar to YHWH because they ascribe to this assemblage of metal the work that YHWH had previously accomplished.
They wanted the fruit that YHWH had promised but not the labor of trust and love that it took to see it.
I would really like to laugh at them. Then I realize that I’m probably somewhere amongst them--plotting out plans for church success, spiritual growth, and helping people to worship a convenient “YHWH”. You see, I have my own little sacred cows that I have constructed under the pretext of worshipping the living God. I have my own plans to fast track the spiritual growth of the flock that I am called to help shepherd.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”.
Day of Jesus Christ?!? That’s might be take awhile. “As for this return of Jesus, we aren’t sure when that’s going to happen”. Let me help you out, Lord. I think I can fast track their spiritual growth. I’ve written these really helpful articles on my blog…
Lord, Your people are in your hands. You hold them with an immovable hand. Your arm is not too short to save. Mine is. When I think that I know better, when I am tempted to construct my own sacred cows help me remember that the only thing that brings us to completion is the finished work of Jesus. Yes, finished work of Jesus. You don’t need my golden calves. You don’t need anything from me. Yet, you bid me come and die. May I follow you even if at times it looks like I’ve been slaughtered on a scary mountain.