When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” (Exodus 32:1)
It’s such a familiar story we may breeze right past the details. After delivering the Ten Commandments, God called Moses back to Mt. Sinai to give him further instructions for the Israelites. Elsewhere we’re told that Moses was gone 40 days, which was too long in the minds of the Israelites.
Not knowing what happened to Moses or when he would return, they marched up to Aaron (who was second in command) and made a demand. Interestingly, that demand wasn’t for a search and rescue team for Moses. Nor was it a demand that Aaron step up and become their leader in Moses’ absence. Sadly, their demand was for Aaron to make them idols to follow.
Just 40 days earlier, Moses had given the people God’s commandments – and they vowed to follow them with all their hearts. Yet, in less than six weeks the people were ready to ditch both Moses and the Lord’s commandments. Not only did their demand for idols fly directly in the face of the second commandment, I believe it revealed something else about the people – something we’re more likely to fall into today as well.
There’s a connection between their demand for an idol and the absence of Moses. To me this strongly suggests that the people were following Moses – not God. When Moses was gone, they were willing to ditch God too!
Likewise, if our desire to be obedient depends on who’s filling the pulpit, or who’s leading us, then we’re following a man and not God. When a person of God passes off the scene (as Moses had temporarily done), nothing of God departs with them. God is still God – everything about Him and His Word remains. Therefore, a changing of the guard at the top need not disrupt anything.
Whom are you following – God, or God’s people?
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