The People Make a Golden Calf to Worship

The scene was San Diego Superior Court. Two men were on trial for armed robbery. An eyewitness took the stand, and the prosecutor moved carefully: “So, you say you were at the scene when the robbery took place?” “Yes.” “And you saw a vehicle leave at a hi … More


Even though the Israelites had seen the invisible God in action, they still wanted the familiar gods they could see and shape into whatever image they desired (vv. 1-10). It was not long after the Israelites had agreed to be the Lord’s covenant people that they asked Aaron to make them a false image and he agreed by melting the wife’s earrings into an idol in the shape of a young bull (vv. 1-4).  No doubt the Israelites, fresh from Egypt found it quite natural to make a golden calf to represent the God that has just delivered them from their oppressors. They were not interested in a god without a face. Aaron built an altar in front of the idol, the people sacrificed animals there and they got drunk and acted like wild animals (vv. 5-6). We tend to be just like them. Our great temptation is to make God someone convenient to obey or ignore.

God told Moses to hurry back down the mountain and check on the people because they were acting like fools (v. 7), by building themselves an idol and making sacrifices to it (v. 8). He went on to tell Moses that these are a stubborn people and that He is angry enough to destroy them so don’t try to destroy them (vv. 9-10). God had made it very plain; “You shall not make for yourself a carved image... any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:4).


Even if I do not make idols, I am often guilty of trying to make God fit my image, molding him to fit my expectations, desires, and circumstances. When I do this I end up worshiping myself rather than the God who created me. When I am tempted to do this I need to change my thinking in order to worship the powerful God who delivered me from the bondage of sin?

Exodus 32:1-10 (English Standard Version)

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