No Other Gods
Draw near to Jesus now, who “always lives to intercede” for you (Heb. 7:25). Praise him for that.
Read EXODUS 32:1-14
 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.”  Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”  So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.”  So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.  They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’  “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.  Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”  But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.  Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'”  Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was the big sin committed here and why?
This is a shocking and somber tale of God’s ancient people. Forgetful of God’s saving work in their lives, disrespectful to faithful, godly leaders, quick to worship idols, guilty of blasphemy against the Lord’s name in their actions, unwilling to stand out from the crowd—no, I’m never like that, am I?
With his brother Moses up on the mountain, Aaron is intimidated by the grumbling, rebellious people. Self-excusing logic might have argued, “This is the way society today thinks about worship.” After all, bulls (the more likely meaning of “calf” here) had frequently been connected with idol worship (including in Egypt). Perhaps it could be argued that the golden earrings, probably loot from Egypt, were being offered to God.
So Aaron goes along with the mob, his words making everything sound alright (5). Yet, Aaron and the people are guilty of deliberate idol worship (20:23), sexual excess (20:14) and blasphemy (20:7). Moses, in contrast, intercedes. He is both mindful of God’s goodness, holiness, powerfulness—and grace (13). Moses loves his people and pleads for them (see Jas. 5:16).
Are there situations which cause you anxiety and tempt you to turn to modern day idols for comfort?
Pray for your congregation’s leaders—for wisdom when they must exercise tough love in their congregations.