“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered to Aaron and said, ‘Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses,.. we do not know what has become of him.’ 2 So Aaron said, ‘Take off the rings of gold.., and bring them to me.’ 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he… fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. They said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel!’ Aaron… built an altar before it… They rose early the next day and offered burnt offerings.., [and] sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play…
“Moses went down from the mountain… As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot… He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water, and made the people of Israel drink it.
“‘What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?’ Aaron said,.. ‘You know the people… are set on evil… I said to them, “Let any who have gold take it off.” So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.’
“When Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose), [he] said, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side?'” Exodus 32:1-6,15,19-22,24-26
Moses’s forty days on the Mount with the Lord proved too much in testing his brother. As days turned and the multitude’s impatience grew, Aaron’s fortitude and faith weakened to the point of abdication. Fear won out, giving way to pride and idolatry run rampant. His opportunity to stand firm and redirect the people to God’s promises slipped away as he gave in to their misguided wishes and rebellion. Moses’s return and renouncement set all clear, making obvious the opportunity that had been missed.
We face decisions every day whether to give in to fear or stand strong, whether to yield to wayward emotions or obey. Opportunities abound both to go astray and to do the right thing, and every step in either direction makes that way more palatable, and easy. Aaron’s choice to let angst and whine get under his skin, and to surrender to fear of the masses, led to sin that led to more sin. Perhaps getting caught in the frenzy of false worship and self-importance sullied his view of reality. Whether he deliberately lied to his brother or not, sin’s steep slope had proved too slippery to resist. Moses’s swift, firm action proved what true conviction looked like.
How are we exercising our freedom in responding to daily choices? To uphold truth, to love and serve, or go the way of flesh? We do defines what we worship. Where are we erecting our own gods to placate impatience, or alien desire? What opportunity to stretch our faith in waiting, and doing right, have we yielded to more immediate golden calves? (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:13,16-17,19-23)
Lord, fix my eyes and choices on Thee. Give me courage to seize every opportunity to grow in faith, to honor and worship You alone, and rightly.