God’s miraculous deliverance was short-lived in the minds of the Israelites. As Moses lingered in the presence of the LORD on Mt. Sinai, their impatience led them to idolatry. Study what happens in Exodus 32:1-10.
32 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden[a] calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”Exodus 32:1-10
Even though the people had gotten out of Egypt, Egypt hadn’t gotten out of the people. They were so ingrained in a culture that worshiped many idols that they reverted to their former ways. Since they didn’t have an idol, they decided to make one. The situation must make you curious though. Where would a bunch of recent slaves get such a bounty of gold to craft such a statute? The account says they used their jewelry (Exod. 32:3-4), but where would these poor people get such lavish accessories? Read Exod. 11:2-3 and 12:35-36 to find out the tragic answer.
How did they get that jewelry?
They got the jewelry from when the Egyptians gave it to them in response to the power of God displayed among them!
What a travesty. The people took a gift from God and used it as a replacement for God. God has provided that gift. They were wealthy because of his deliverance and not their efforts, and they abandoned him. Growing impatient with God’s timing, the people turned to worship the gift instead of the Giver.
What good gifts do you have that run the risk of replacing the Giver?
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.