2007-09-16 - Idol Lies
Exodus 32:24, "And I said to them, 'Whoever has any god, let them tear it off,' so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf."
In reading this verse, I have always had a picture in my mind that the golden calf simply appeared from the fire and was almost lifted out, as if it came up through an underground stage like we might see at a concert. It always seemed to me that Satan formed the calf, and that is how it was made. It sort-of just came out of the fire, all formed and ready to be worshipped. But in a more careful reading of the text, it seems that this is not at all what happened. This verse above is just one in a series of failures and lies that Aaron told.
If you read Chapter 32 of Exodus, you will notice that Aaron shows a lack of leadership, early on. He was Moses' spokesman, but he should have stayed with speaking. The people ask him to make a god (32:1). The thought is absurd. Make a god? He should have put an end to such thinking immediately. But at the end of the day, he tells the people to give him their gold earrings. He then, Verse 4, "fashioned it with a graving tool." Here is the lie. In Verse 24 (above), he tells Moses "out came this calf." But earlier in Verse 4, we are told that he had fashioned the gold he was given with a tool, into a calf.
Maybe I am the only one who had missed this before recently, but in all my times reading this story, I always felt a little sorry for Aaron, because while he had some culpability to be sure, it is a powerful thing for a calf to simply rise out of the fire. I pictured it forming itself, or really Satan forming it, and just being there. I never considered that Aaron, in Verse 24, was lying through his teeth. But he was, and Verse 4 tells us he was lying, because it says he formed the calf out of the gold with a tool.
I suppose that there are two obvious lessons here. The first is to myself, but also to anyone else who is willing to admit that they still, no matter where they are in this Christian life, have much to learn. When we come to the Bible with pre-conceived notions about what it says, we walk away less properly instructed than when we come to Scripture open to being taught through the Word. For years, I have read this passage blindly, thinking I understood it plainly. It was only recently that I read it and noticed that - even in this familiar passage - I had missed the mark, for my entire life. It is very instructive to be reminded that we must come to God's Word to be instructed, and not feeling we have it all figured out already.
Aaron was a weak man. He was the mouthpiece of Moses, we know, but he was no leader in himself. He was easily swayed from the truth he should have known. Are any of us above Aaron? Would any of us dare to say that we could not, just as easily, be susceptible to lie in order to save our reputation? Aaron and the people were also prone to wander from God; are not we also? Maybe we already have things in our lives that take God's rightful place as first in our hearts. These are nothing more than idols. Let us call them what they are. Anything that supplants God's rightful place, as first in our hearts, must be discarded as a hindrance to our spiritual growth, progress in grace, and faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Let it never be said of us that we have left our first love, Revelation 2:4
Soli Deo Gloria,