“Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame” (Exodus 32:25)
If Aaron were alive today he might be sought after by many churches to be their pastor. He had been seconded because Moses (his brother) had refused to speak to the people directly and therefore he wasn’t God’s choice for the role. As spokesperson for Moses, who was God’s spokesperson, Aaron was most likely seen as the number two in seniority. The commandments had been given (Exodus 20) and the people had declared they would do all the Lord had said (24:7) and it had been sealed as a blood covenant (24:8). The deal with a blood covenant is that if either party does not keep their part the penalty is death.
By making the golden calf Israel had not kept their part of the covenant and therefore God would be justified in destroying the nation (32:10) and in fact must do so or be unjust.
Why did Aaron lead the people astray? Moses clearly laid the blame for Israel’s sin on Aaron because he had allowed himself to be manipulated by the people (32:21) and there are several reasons why he was able to be so led:
- He did not spend time with God
- He was a democratic leader – he did what pleased the people
- He enjoyed the praise of men
- He enjoyed being #1 in Moses’ absence.
Aaron would be in demand today in many churches because he listens to the congregation and not to God. He did not see what he had done as being much of a sin but Moses corrected him calling it “a great sin” (there is no other kind). We, like Aaron prefer to call sin by some other name more politically correct but all sin is great sin.
Like us Aaron tried to methods to excuse his behaviour and shift blame. First, he blamed the people (v 22). If he knew the people were set on evil as he states then his sin is even worse for doing as they demanded.
Second, he tried to make what he had done appear spiritual (v 24). All he claimed to have done was throw the gold into the fire and, presto, out pops a golden calf. It must have been a Divine act and therefore divinely approved. How dare Moses criticize a Divine act!
However Moses did spend time with God and he knew that Israel had sinned greatly and were now under God’s condemnation and sentence of death.
We are our father’s children and like Adam when we sin we will call it by some less condemning name, blame someone else and as a last resort claim that God is responsible. Hopefully we will realise our gross error and repent.