Read Exodus 32:1-4
1 When the people realized that Moses was taking forever in coming down off the mountain, they rallied around Aaron and said, “Do something. Make gods for us who will lead us. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt—who knows what’s happened to him?”
2-4 So Aaron told them, “Take off the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters and bring them to me.” They all did it; they removed the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from their hands and cast it in the form of a calf, shaping it with an engraving tool.
The people responded with enthusiasm: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from Egypt!” (THE MESSAGE)
This is one of the more bewildering passages in the Bible. The Israelites had been wonderfully saved from Egyptian captivity, had seen the miracle of the parting of the waters, had been supernaturally fed with manna. We might think that after all this their trust in God would be unshakeable.
We would be wrong. The problem was that their leader Moses had been summonsed by God to Mount Sinai and was there a long time. The people got impatient. What sort of leader was he that he would disappear up a mountain and leave them in the dark? They so quickly forgot what Moses had done, and what God Moses represented.
And so naïve and foolish Aaron, who should have known better, decided to make them a golden calf. A deity they could see and touch. Unlike Moses, unlike the deity who was supposed to be conversing with him up on the mountain.
Just like them, we can too easily give up on the one true God and settle for some pathetic substitute. Not a golden calf, but money, career, happiness, success. As for this ‘God’ we are supposed to worship, who knows what has happened to him. He doesn’t seem to be around much, he doesn’t seem to be doing much for us recently. So let’s bring on a substitute. And suffer the consequences.