Exodus Idolatry

Blogging may be a bit sporadic this week as I dig out from the pile that accumulated while I was gone. I completely disengaged, which was a good thing, but means I'm chasing cobwebs out.

This morning I was reading in Exodus 32, the familiar passage about the idolatry of the Israelites while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Law from God the first time. Something really obvious struck me that hadn't ever struck me before.

When we think about the idolatry in Exodus 32, we normally think of the golden cow that "jumped" out of the flames before Aaron's eyes (Exodus 32:24). The people of Israel took their gold and gave it to Aaron who melted it down and fashioned a golden calf that the people worshiped, saying "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4) even though they knew darn well the cow was handmade, just a few minutes old

I've often wondered about the stupidity of giving Aaron's arts-and-crafts project credit for something the people knew it hadn't done. Maybe people are just more evolved these days after all.

Then this morning, I noticed verse 1.

The idolatry of the Israelites started way before they gave credit to the calf for bringing them out of Egypt. Notice what they say about Moses as they commission Aaron's sculpture: "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."

Moses hadn't brought them out of Egypt. God had brought them out of Egypt. By giving Moses the credit for something God had done, the Israelites reveal that their hearts are already idolatrous. The golden calf just takes their idolatry to the next level.

There's a lesson there for us: When you're willing to give man credit for something God does, it's only a small step to worshiping a golden calf.