Our idol might not be in the shape of a calf; it might be in the shape of power, or position, or money, or our children’s accomplishments, or even our ministry platform. But the whole reason that “thing”, whatever shape it takes, comes out of the fire of our lives is because we created the mold. We put in the resources. We let it bake for a while. In every choice we make, we are either choosing to glorify God and worship Him or forging the shape of an idol.
Sometimes you read the Bible and just shake your head. Often, you shake your head in wonder as you are confronted with the power of God, the majesty of his creation, the immensity of His love and grace. We shake our heads because the truths there are too big for us; too unlike the kind of power or love that we see here on earth; too great for us to fully comprehend.
Then there are other times when we shake our heads at the people. We wonder at the hard-heartedness; the disbelief; the cycle of turning from God again and again. And then there are times we shake our heads because of the silliness.
Exodus 32 is one of those times. There is high drama in this chapter. The Israelites had been delivered from Egypt in miraculous fashion. The plagues had been called down; the sea had been parted; the people had walked through to the mountain where God had led them. And Moses had been up on that mountain for some time receiving the law that would be the cornerstone of this people for generations. But while Moses was up on the mountain, chaos was erupting in the camp below. For despite all that God had done, all the revelations of His power, all His faithful examples of provision and deliverance, the people wanted something more. Something else.
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.”
Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 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, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (Ex. 32:1-4).