When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1
Leadership is often criticized by those being led. However, when leadership is absent it is sorely missed and longed for. Most people by nature, want to be led and want to follow good leadership.
For the children of Israel, Moses was their leader. He was the visible reminder of God’s presence in the their midst. So even though at times they would threaten to reject his leadership and return to Egypt, they became very nervous when Moses went away to meet the Lord on Mt. Sinai. When Moses went on the mountain top to meet with God, and did not return in a suitable time frame, the people became anxious.
Their nervousness and anxiousness can be understood, when viewed through the lens of believing they had been deposited in a vast wilderness and now their leader had disappeared. Through this lens, their course of action was understandable, though not acceptable. They panicked and decided to take matters in their own hands.
Since Moses had not returned from the mountain top, they approached Aaron and asked that he make gods, which would lead them. Their plan was to go back to the kind of idol worship they were familiar with. When we feel uneasy or panic about a situation, our natural response will be to return to what is familiar. Because of this, we will abandon principles, deny commitments, and make decisions in haste.
As we continue to read the story, we see Aaron gives into the desires of those panicking around him. He follows their suggestion and melts down the precious metals to fashion a golden calf for the people to worship. The results were catastrophic as the Lord was incensed, Moses was appalled, Aaron was rebuked, the calf was ground to powder and many of the Israelites were killed as a result of their actions.
The characteristics needed during this chaos was a cool head with clear convictions. How might the story have turned out differently, if Aaron would have held to his faith and convictions. Remember, Aaron had seen all the miracles God performed first hand as he stood beside Moses before Pharaoh.
What if, when the people came to Aaron asking what they were going to do, Aaron would have said, “I don’t have all the answers and I understand your fear. I too feel a bit uneasy and anxious about Moses not returning as of yet. However, the Lord has brought us this far and He will not abandon us. He has proven His faithfulness in the past and He will continue to be faithful in the future. We must hold to faith and turn from our fears.”
When reading the story we may think what in the world were they doing, but the reality is, we all have our “golden calf” moments in life. Those times when panic sets in and our natural inclination is to return to whats familiar. We want to take matters into our own hands, because we believe we can handle circumstances more effectively through our own abilities than God can.
When we always hold to what’s familiar, we will remain where we have always been. It is only when we are willing to exercise our faith, that we grow into what God desires for us to be and accomplish what He desires for our lives.
Each and everyone one of us are leading somebody, whether it is co-workers, family members or others in the community. The question is, do they see you leading through faith, or clinging to what’s comfortable and always relying on your own abilities.
Fickle faith flounders, but firm faith flourishes…