Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)
God dearly loves His people. God brought out the people of Israel from Egypt with many miracles and His Might Hand. He was patient and slow to anger upon the numerous complaints of the people of Israel. God took them to the Mount Sinai, and make them take rest in God. They finally rested in the hands of God. The God gave them His Commandments, Laws and Regulations to truly be His people forever. It was a real blessing. God was with them, and they were in God’s hand safe and in peace.
God personally called Moses, and told Moses. In turn, Moses gave what was told by God to the people, which covered relationship between humans, such as not to slander, no to give a false witness, not to be partial to others, and between God and the people of Israel – to faithfully keep the Sabbath, not to make idol, to present annual festivals before God, and to give sacrifices to God to realize the weight of sins and God’s merciful forgiveness. The people of Israel said, “We will obey everything that God commands.”
God called Moses: “Come up here to me again.” Before going back to God, Moses carefully wrote down all the LORD’s instructions that Moses received. Early the next morning Moses got up and built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He also set up twelve pillars, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent some of the young Israelite men to present burnt offerings and to sacrifice bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. Moses drained half the blood from these animals into basins. The other half he splattered against the altar as God commanded. It was a manifestation of God’s love to show how terrible sins were and the consequences of sins, i.e., blood and death. God imposed their sins to the animals to remind the nature of sins and forgiveness of God from His mercy and love.
Then he took the Book of the Covenant that he wrote, and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded. We will obey.” Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the LORD has made with you in giving you these instructions and His forgiveness and mercy.” Moses truly prepared the people of Israel fully and completely. They also responded that they would obey what God told to them.
Godsaid to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there, and I will give you the tablets of stone on which I have inscribed the instructions and commands so you can teach the people.” Moses told the elders, “Stay here and wait for us until we come back. Aaron and Hur are here with you. If anyone has a dispute while I am gone, consult with them.”
Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. And the glory of the LORD settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the LORD appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
God, then, gave detailed instructions how to build the Tabernacle, the Ark, the Table of the Bread of the Presence of God, the Lamp stand before God, the clothing for the priests, and other details how to worship Him. When the LORD finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God. God loves the people of Israel, and He spent the forty days with Moses to give all of the details of how to worship God.
At the foot of the mountain, the people of the Israel waited for Moses’ returning. They waited and waited, but Moses did not return. When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they were getting nervous. The entire camp was unsettling, and everyone felt vulnerable without Moses, the true leader who brought them from Egypt.
Itwas not Moses, but God who brought out them from Egypt. Indeed, their faith was at infancy with God. Like a baby, they could not discern what the truth was and who God was. We all know God dearly loves us, and He never leaves and forsakes us under any situations. Without a deeper root in faith, the people of Israel felt very insecure without Moses, who was a real person. They could physically see, but God was invisible.
Then they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to our leader Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” Aaron was not much different from the people of Israel. Although he was asked to make the people of Israel to be continuously faithful to God while Moses was gone up to the mountain, Aaron could not stay as a true leader of serving God only. He felt the same insecurity and he also was in fear like the rest. (We all know and many of us have already experience: our insecurity is one primary source generating fear, which is the deadly enemy against our faith. When we are driven by fear, we are very vulnerable to Satan. Then we fall into, especially when our faith is weak.)
Aaron thought that he really needed something to lean on and hold on in the time of fear. He also clearly knew that the other people was searching for the same. He had to make something to make him and the rest feel secure again. Aaron pondered about something that could be easily recognized by all of the people, and be considered to be sacred enough to take away all of their fears and insecurity. He came to a conclusion to create a golden calf that surely visibly stood out to give feeling of security, and most of all, the people could come, touch and feel it. It was a perfect one, Aaron thought.
So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.”
Surely, all of the Israelites quickly responded. They took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” He created his own god out of the image of an animal, which was directly violation of the First and Second Commandments:
1 1. You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)
2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything. (Exodus 20:4a).
As expected, Aaron saw the people were really excited. Once he started, he could not stop. So he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the LORD!” Aaron exactly replicated what God instructed to Moses up in the mountain! Aaron mislead the people, and made them sin, which was infectious and growing quickly to make all to commit the grave sin of creating and worshiping the idol.
Then the people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry. It was a really sad moment that one leader made all of the Israelites sin. The millions people of Israel was driven by one person, Aaron, to sin while breaking the very first and second Commandments.
When we read about the sins of Aaron and the people of Israel – making a golden calf with their most precious possessions, i.e., gold, and worshiping the idol, we easily think we are different. We say that we are not so foolish to create our own golden calf like them. Of course, none of us physically gather gold, melt it, and make a golden calf. Thus, we might say we are immune to such a sin. Is it a really true statement?
What’s our response when we confront with a prolonged insecurity in life, and our fear is mounting up as time goes by? Like the people of Israel waited for Moses at the foot of the mountain, we have been waiting long time, but nothing has been changed. Our life pain continues. Then what do we do? Do we relentlessly and continuously pray to God in faith without doubting Him and looking for His mercy and love?
Then call on me when you are in trouble,
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory. (Psalm 50:15)