The people had recently received the 10 Commandments, spoken by God himself. “You shall have no other gods before me.” “You shall not make any graven images.” All the way to “You shall not covet.” Ten simple, easy to understand laws to help them better love God and love man. The people had responded that they would do everything that God had said. Moses had then been called up on the mountain, and he had been gone for weeks and weeks (40 days in Bible terminology).
The people became impatient. They didn’t know what had happened to Moses. Perhaps he had left them and wasn’t coming back. Perhaps he was dead. They went to the brother of Moses, Aaron, and asked him to make a god to lead them. Aaron asked for their ear rings, and he melted the rings and formed a calf. This wasn’t quite a god. In Egypt, a calf or cow or bull was not a god, but was the seat of a god. The calf would not have been worshiped, but they would have worshiped the figure seated on the calf. Aaron didn’t go so far as to make what he thought was a god; he only make the seat for a god. But it was a significant compromise anyway. He tried to move the people’s thoughts back to God by building an altar in front of the calf and telling the people that tomorrow they would hold a festival to worship God.
But the people could not see past the calf, and they worshiped, not God, but…a chair. Holy Cow!
They forgot how God had lead them during the past several months. They forgot the way he had protected them from the ten plagues in Egypt. They forgot how he had made a way through the Red Sea, so they could leave the Egyptian army behind them. They forgot how he had miraculously fed and watered them—how miraculously he was feeding and watering them every day. They forgot the 10 Commandments. They forgot their promises to God. They forgot God. In forgetting God they became stupid and started inventing their own gods.
When we lose sight of God, what will hold us true to him is the memory of what he has done in the past for us. He certainly died on the cross for you and me. He was certainly raised from the dead to give us the hope of an eternal future. He certainly has sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us through life. He certainly is preparing a place in heaven for each of his children. He certainly loves you and me. Let us continue to focus on God’s blessings so that we can avoid becoming stupid and worshiping something of our own invention.