“Aaron said to them, “Have your wives, sons and daughters strip off their gold earrings; and bring them to me.” 3 The people stripped off their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. He received what they gave him, melted it down, and made it into the shape of a calf. They said, ‘Isra’el! Here is your god, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’“-Exodus 32:2-4
A couple of points about the Golden Calf.
First, the Golden Calf itself was a very commonplace image in practically every Middle Eastern culture.
In Egypt, it was one of the highest deities and was called the Apis Bull.
The bull represented strength and authority.
When the Hebrews were making the Golden Calf, I’m not 100% sure if they were modeling it after the Egyptian Apis or some other bull god from another Middle Eastern culture.
But, who cares?!
Let’s quickly go over what has happened so far.
The Hebrews had personally witnessed the miracle of the 10 devastating plagues that laid waste to the land of Egypt.
When the Hebrews were in hot pursuit by Pharaoh and his army, the Lord split the Red Sea for them so they could travel on safe ground.
Following the parting of the Red Sea, the Lord sent the waters crashing back down resulting in the complete and total destruction of the Egyptian army, arguably the most powerful military in the world at the time.
At Sinai, the people with their own ears heard the very voice of the Lord Himself when He gave them His 10 Words.
In spite of all these tremendous miracles, why oh why, you may ask did the Hebrews commit this gross idolatry with the Golden Calf?
I’ve heard many Christians repeatedly ask this question in quite a deprecating manner.
Folks, the truth is the way the Hebrews acted is a stark reflection of how we all act at the first sign of trouble.
Once uncomfortable or difficult circumstances arise, our first instinct is to NOT believe or trust God.
Instead of reminding ourselves of the promises He has made to us, our first inclination is to retreat back to our old behaviors.
Our bad habits take over.
That’s why I’ve said before that it’s so important to establish Godly habits.
It’s easy to be strong in our faith or not lapse into sinful behavior when things are going well.
However, where the rubber meets the road is how you respond once trouble hits the fan.
Again, more than intellectual understanding, it’s a habitual thing.
The Hebrews were well aware that the false gods they had worshipped back in Egypt had never freed them or brought them any good.
It didn’t matter.
People love to cling to the old and familiar or those things that validate a certain lifestyle we’ve chosen.
God’s principles are compromised away or rationalized just to satisfy our emotions and wants.
I mean look at all the Scripture twisting that goes on to justify one’s predetermined belief system.
I betcha there’s not one person reading this article who doesn’t fight daily the urges to either hang on to or go back to his or her old familiar ways of doing things.
Remember, there’s no comfort in growth and sometimes the Lord has to make you very uncomfortable for your own growth and character development.