In the old testament of the Bible Exodus 32, we read about how the Israelites who were the people and nation chosen to worship the living God fell into the “sin” of idol worship.
Moses was instructed by God to to go up to Mount Sinai, where he was to give him the “Ten Commandments”. Israel had been under slavery for a long time, and did not have any clear structure or governance. God wanted to make them into a strong nation and this was the first and very foundational step to give them the basic instructions as it relates to their relationship with God, and with people.
Moses took much longer (40 days), than what the believed to be normal and as his prolonged absence creates a sense of loneliness and lack of leadership in the community. That’s when they go to Aaron [Moses brother whom God had chosen to help Moses lead Israelites] and put pressure on him. We read in verse 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[a] 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 falls into the wishes of the masses:
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. 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,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
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.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
Israel falls into the dreadful sin of “idol worship”
They were very quick to forgot the Creator, the Living God, that led them out of bondage into freedom and the wrath of God flares against them.
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
Lets look into two aspects of this event and how it applies to current age.
A weak “Leadership”
Aaron was the second in command after Moses, God had chosen him to assist Moses to provide leadership to Israel. He had seen all the miracles God performed, more than rest of Israelites, as he was with Moses every time Moses went to Pharaoh to seek the freedom for Israel.
People Pleasers : Yet when Moses was gone he fell under the “pressure of people” and bends to their desire to have a physical idol whom they could worship. Don’t you see this as a strong reality today in christian leadership where leaders want to just please the masses, they want to make it “convenient” and “comfortable” for the masses and twist the truth about God and Holiness in exchange of getting more crowds (and revenue) into the churches.
Leadership trying to listen to the people instead of waiting on the LORD
Verse 21 Moses tell Aaron- 21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
Lack of Direct Experience and Knowledge about the “Power of God”: Aaron lacked the accountability expected of a leader which comes from the personal relationship and experiences which a leader owns up in his relationship with God.