The Golden Calf Fast Food Apostasy
by Bobby Bruno 5/28/2014 / Bible Studies
The old joke goes "How many people in a nation does it take to quickly forget everything they've just seen God miraculously do for their protection and their existence?" The answer: "Every single one of them." God had just shown the people of Israel through the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the defeating of the nations they fought on the way to Sinai that He was their God, and that He would take care of them every second of every day. Incredibly, what God had done was not enough for His people to stay faithful to Him. When left alone without a leader for just forty short days, they decided God was not enough and decided to go their own way. Incredible? Indeed.
Enter the players: Moses, Aaron, and the rest of the unfaithful nation of Israel. Moses was doing the work God had set out for him to do. Moses faithfully climbed up the mountain to have a conversation with God, and to find out His commandments for His chosen people. When He came back down, he found that his people had already turned from the God who had rescued them from slavery. Aaron, the same Aaron who stood and watched as God confounded Pharaoh at every turn, had given in to the nation's demand for a new and improved god, one made of gold, because, as other nations had found out you can never go wrong with a golden god in your temple. About the gold, Adam Clarke says, "
Both men and women wore these ornaments, and we may suppose that these were a part of the spoils which they brought out of Egypt. How strange, that the very things which were granted them by an especial influence and providence of God, should be now abused to the basest idolatrous purposes! But it is frequently the case that the gifts of God become desecrated by being employed in the service of sin; I will curse your blessings, saith the Lord (Mal 2:2).
Then there are the Israelites, God's chosen people. This nation had eaten the whole hog of God's table, but now would rather have the fast food recipe of simple pulled pork. How they could forget everything God had just done for them is anyone's guess. But now that the manna was gone, it was time to open up a new ordering window of apostasy and rebellion. After forty days, they felt, God had already forgotten them and was going to leave them to die on the mountain floor. Not about to let that happen, the Israelites decided a new god could do just as good as the old. They were soon to find out that they were completely wrong about the God they first loved.
While still up on the mountain talking to God, God impressed upon Moses that his people were up to no good. With the newly created plates that held the words of the Ten Commandments made with the finger of God, and after pleading with God not to kill the entire nation, Moses descended down the mountain to find revelry and partying going on in the camp below. Caring more about their rebellion against God than he did two plates of stone, Moses threw the tablets and destroyed the false God Aaron had made.
In a reversal of roles, where Moses was once the excuse maker at the burning bush, Aaron now sputtered as he made one excuse after another of why he listened to the people and constructed the golden calf. Moses had the calf meted back down, pulverized into powered, and place it in water for the nation to drink (Ex 32:20). Of this, the book entitled "Bible History: Old Testament" says,
In that terrible day no less than 3,000 men fell under the sword of Levi. As for the Golden Calf, its wooden framework was burnt in the fire and its gold covering ground to powder, and strewed upon the brook which descended from Sinai. Of this Israel had to drink, in symbol that each one must receive and bear the fruits of his sin, just as, later on, the woman suspected of adultery was ordered to drink the water into which the writing of the curses upon her sin had been washed (Num 5:24). In His anger, God told Moses to instruct the Levites to strike down three thousand people who were running wild throughout the camp (Ex 32:26-28).
After all of this had happened Moses went up again to plead with God to forgive the people of their sin, even at the cost of his own life. God forgave only those who has sinned against Him and told Moses to continue leading the people on to the Promised Land. An angel of God would lead in front of them preparing the way they should go. But, before they left, God sent a plague among the people for their rebellion in making the golden calf (Ex 32:31-35).
Today, from the rebellion and apostasy of the people of Israel, we should learn that God keeps short accounts with us and can, at any time, punish us for our disobedience. If we forget that He is our God, we can be sure that He has not forgotten that we are His. The people of Israel made another god to replace the one, true God, something we all do in our daily lives when we make one thing or another a priority over God's place in our lives. God should always be our priority. If we do not then God has the right to do to us what He did to the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai; He has the right to correct us and to bring us back to Him. Only a loving, merciful God would do that for His people. It's sad to say that a lot of us would rather have a fast food god then the God who invites us to the table in His vast and bountiful, relaxing restaurant. Only there will we take the time to fellowship with our God and get to know Him better.
Clarke, A. (2004). Adam clarke's commentary on the old testament. Database 2004 WORDsearch Corp.
Bible history: old testament. Text Public Domain. Database 2004 WORDsearch Corp.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.