Have you ever been in charge of watching a group of kids only to have them completely blow up the minute your attention was diverted? Any school teacher will tell you that kids have a sixth sense about when they can get away with something and when they can not. Children are inherently devious that way.
We have been following the story of the miraculous deliverance of the Hebrews as they fled from slavery in Egypt and escaped from Pharaoh’s army. Their arrival in the Promised Land was marked with bitter complaining as they grew hungry and thirsty, but God provided for them. At that point you would think they would be settled down. But no!
Moses had ascended to Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God and the MINUTE his back was turned, this happened:
Exodus 32 Common English Bible
The people saw that Moses was taking a long time to come down from the mountain. They gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come on! Make us gods who can lead us. As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t have a clue what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron said to them, “All right, take out the gold rings from the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took out the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He collected them and tied them up in a cloth. Then he made a metal image of a bull calf, and the people declared, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf. Then Aaron announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” 6 They got up early the next day and offered up entirely burned offerings and brought well-being sacrifices. The people sat down to eat and drink and then got up to celebrate.
It is almost hard to believe that the second they were left alone they created an idol to worship. How could they forget the incredible miracle God had performed as he divided the water and allowed them to walk across the sea on dry land? How could they forget water flowing in the desert from a rock so they wouldn’t die of thirst? How did they overlook the consistent delivery of manna from heaven so they wouldn’t go hungry?
7 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry up and go down! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, are ruining everything! 8 They’ve already abandoned the path that I commanded. They have made a metal bull calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it and declared, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 The Lord said to Moses, “I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are. 10 Now leave me alone! Let my fury burn and devour them. Then I’ll make a great nation out of you.”
God was over it. He called “Bull.” We tend to forget that his mercy is balanced by his anger when we deliberately walk away from his will for our lives and commit blasphemy.
11 But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, “Lord, why does your fury burn against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and amazing force? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He had an evil plan to take the people out and kill them in the mountains and so wipe them off the earth’? Calm down your fierce anger. Change your mind about doing terrible things to your own people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, whom you yourself promised, ‘I’ll make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky. And I’ve promised to give your descendants this whole land to possess for all time.’”
Moses boldly asks God to remember his promise when the people flagrantly refused to remember theirs.
I think everything we need to know about God happens in the next sentence:
14 Then the Lord changed his mind about the terrible things he said he would do to his people.
The people said to Aaron, “Come on! Make us gods who can lead us.” How about you? Have you walked away from your Lord and begun to worship other things? Are material things, status, position, political entrenchment, or privilege the things you worship now? What kind of flags are you flying from your boat? Whose name is on the sign in your front yard?
Have you erected your own golden bull in place of serving God and being the reflection of Christ to the world?
Take heed. God won’t tolerate that bull for long. Remember, return, and repent.