THE ABSENCE OF GODLY LEADERSHIP (Part One) – The People Establish an Idol
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
REFLECTIONS ON EXODUS 32 AND DEUTERONOMY 9 (Part 1)
“Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And Aaron said to them, ‘Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.’ So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. ‘They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.’” (Exodus 32:1-10, NASB)
In this account, Moses, who had been commissioned by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, had been on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights (Dt.9:9). During this time, the massive throng of people (numbered in the millions) he had led into the wilderness became distraught. In the absence of this one powerful, godly leader, the people approached Aaron, making a request. “Make us a god who will go before us.” Void of godly influence and leadership the people revert to a cultural practice characteristic of the place from which God was providing deliverance. They will make a god who will get them out of this jam. Instead of looking to the God who had called and empowered Moses, they look to an idol fashioned by human imagination and skill. It’s nearly inconceivable that there was not another individual or group of individuals who would oppose this pursuit. It’s even more disturbing to see the response of the “leader” to whom they appeal as he quickly assents. This, however, is not uncommon in our age as people often allow someone to “lead” if they take them where they want to go and let them do what they want to do. What idols do we follow in the absence of godly leadership?