Saturday after Quasimodo geniti
Scripture: Exodus 32:1-14 (NKJV)
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for 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 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”
3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” 5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” 6 Then they rose early on the next day, 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, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'” 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed 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. And I will make of you a great nation.”
11 Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'” 14 So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
“So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the Lord has said we will do.'”(Ex. 24:3) How quickly things can change. In a matters of days the solemn promise the Children of Israel made before the Lord is forgotten. Then there is Aaron. He saw God and ate and drank in His presence. Now, he listens to the voice of the people and fashions a golden calf that they could worship. After all that the Children of Israel had gone through up to this time, how could they so quickly abandon the True God?
Before we place ourselves on the judgment seat concerning the Children of Israel, maybe we ought to stop for a moment and examine our own lives. As Luther points out in the Large Catechism concerning the First Commandment, anything in which we put our trust is our god. How often do we misplace our trust? We do not want the God who says, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” We would rather have the god of health, wealth, success, and fame. Indeed, there are plenty of modern day “Aarons” who preach this kind of false gospel.
Thankfully, God does not leave our faith up to us. It is His work. We turn away, and He graciously turns us back unto Himself. Though the process of repentance hurts, the outcome is our being restored to our merciful God.