Exodus 32:1-6 / The Golden Calf
1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.
These people, the Israelites, were so hungry for God. But until Moses came back with the stone tablets and 600+ laws, they’re stabbing in the darkness for hope and guidance. They did not understand their craving was for something real, something better than the physical gratification of a living invisible God.
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.
Out of this craving, they create something out of their means, abilities and resources, ’cause really, what else can they do? No one can even expect them to have faith… that in itself is a gift and a result of encounter and proximity with God, which at this point only Moses has experienced. The miracles they saw and experienced, not even the parting of the Red Sea, were not enough to bind their hearts to God. They want to follow something, be guided by something, be protected, to be in a relatinoship. But what are the options, really?
The earrings were part of the plunder they took from Egypt as they left and I’ve heard that Egypt symbolizes the flesh and death. Which makes sense. The Israelites, or anyone, can only offer what they know, can only live by what they are familiar with. So, when they try to worship, they do it with a thing of the past, a dead thing.
4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.”
Up until this point, I always judged the Israelites as stupid and faithless. But now, I see they are ignorant and faithful. Yes, they did want something tangible to worship but I think there is value in the fact that they wanted a god they could acknowledge, follow and worship for bringing them out of slavery. There was a craving in their hearts for something greater than the physical world, than just living and breathing day by day. They want to meet God. And they ended up making a god.
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”
This part blew my mind haha. They knew where glory was due!! They knew who it belonged to. And yet, they didn’t. This God they were searching for yearning to worship was not reachable by human, fleshly means. Duh. Hahah everyone has fallen short of the glory of God.
This yearning is fundamental to all humanity. There are a few things that set humans apart from animals and this is one of them. The capacity to desire and be satisfied spiritually is a universal human trait. So why do we expect the Israelites to be different? They’re not.
But they are. Hahah. They’re different solely based on the fact that they are a chosen people. The adjective is a participle, a form of a verb. Who is doing the verb? The value of the meaning of “chosen” is him. The Israelites are not inherently special. They are special only because God in his perfection singled them out. To attribute their specialness to anything other than that fact is to give glory to something else, something other than God. Or that is what I think. Haha.
They are a people full of faith. And now he wants to reveal to the world what faith can do when it’s put in what’s True and Good. Cool. Story of our lives.
This is getting kinda long soooo I will wrap it up. I really wonder who reads this, if anyone. And I keep getting likes and follows from people I don’t know, which I’m not complaining about but it just makes me wonder haha. Anyway. Happy Thursday.