Make Us A God (part 1)

It is unfortunate that so many people choose to take matters into their own hands when it does not seem like God cares anymore. Some will go begin teaching false doctrines when they think the Bible is not good enough. Others give up on waiting for the will of God and settle for lesser alternatives. Do we ever face times when it is tempting to become impatient with God and try to do things our way?

Aaron, the brother of Moses, is faced with such a decision in Exodus 32, in which he and the people of Israel consider the delay of Moses and give up on waiting for God. They turn to an idol and engage in continual revelry.

“Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain…” (32:1) It is clear to this assembly that Moses has taken a long time on the mountain with God. In their minds, it is an inescapable conclusion that Moses and God have left them – perhaps Moses was a swindler and this “God” of Israel does not even exist! In any case, this simply shows the impatience of the people, as well as their poor memory. It was not but a few days before that God had appeared on the mountain in smoke, thunder and lightning, and the sound of grand trumpets!

In response to the delay, the people exclaim, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” It is interesting that they feel compelled to go to Aaron for their request. Often, when people want to do something sinful without feeling guilty about it, they will go to a religious leader and ask for some kind of loophole, or excuse.

This story exemplifies the foolishness behind idolatry. Consider, first of all, their statement in 32:1, “Come, make us a god.” Why do any of these Israelites believe a man-made god would be any better than Jehovah? (Jeremiah 2:27-28, Isaiah 46:5-7) Perhaps they had looked with fondness on the days in Egypt, under their bull god Apis, a symbol of strength and fertility. Obviously, they had become so deluded that their time in slavery seemed more wonderful than their time in the wilderness! This is, of course, not the last time that Israel would become ensnared in the bramble bush of idolatry. In fact, this event may have set a bad precedent for future generations; they were not even free and independent for one year before they had turned to idols, which is a pattern they would follow throughout their generations!

32:4-6 – So Aaron took all of the gold rings, melted them down, and constructed an image of a calf, reminiscent of Egyptian divinity. “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Notice that Aaron is not advocating a complete rejection of Jehovah, just a perversion of Him. One cannot deny the power of the Almighty, especially in remembrance of the mighty deeds done at the Red Sea! “And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.’” Again, it is clear that the Israelites are not interested in a “new” god, just a better version of the one they already have. With that, they proclaim a grand feast in honor of their new and improved god.

“And the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” This is religion on their terms!