Saturday, October 4, 2008

Golden Calves in church

Next week I am preaching (briefly) for the Ancient Evangelical Future Conference on the Church ( This is Bob Webber's (a colleague of mine at Northern Seminary) legacy of challenge to the evangelical church in North America. That (among other issues) it turn away from individualism that makes the Church a mere addendum to God's redemptive plan, and instead sees it as key to God's mission in the world.

My given text is Exodus 32:1-14 - Aaron and the golden calf. This is cataclysmic idolatry meldown when Moses up the mountain communes with God, and Aaron dares to lead people (and be led by the crowd) at the foot of the mountain. What jumps out at me are verses 4 and 5. First, the people worship the calf and say: 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf. Does he try to combine calf worship with God worship? Does he want a both/and God? And can you have other sorts of (false) worship combined with worship of God in church today? Such as worshipping church success, especially its growth, its pastor and its programs even while we try to worship God?
We have much to think about. I shall keep you posted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I look at it a little differently. What do you think of this? Aaron could have been weak without Moses when faced with so many people seeking other gods so he thought he would give them an idol to pacify them. After he had made this calf and they proclaimed that it was "the god that brought them out of Egypt", he might have become afraid of Moses and God and decided to build an altar to the one true God. He says "Tomorrow we will have a festival to the Lord". Isn't that the LORD not just some little g god? What do you think? I imagine Aaron was weak rather than seeking to worship another god along side the one true God. He may have just had trouble standing firm, or even seeking the Lord himself for wisdom and guidance in how to respond to these people. That might be why he put the altar before (in front of) the calf, so the people would see the altar to the Lord and remember their oath to God. Then he wouldn't have to stand up and rebuke them himself. He did not act on the oath that they had all taken to the Lord in Exodus 24:3 because he appears to be fear man rather than God.