The scene we wish to consider is that of a people who have grown weary and impatient with the absence of their leader Moses, while he communes with God on Mt. Sinai. God, quite often, does not do things within the time frame we have imagined He ought. We often become restless, and fail to be steadfast in waiting for His time. Many of our most ruinous digressions occur during these divine delays. The delay of Moses, in coming down from Mt. Sinai, shows us the potential for terrible digressions and their consequences.
We may forget the awful bondage, darkness and death from which we have been delivered, the misery and hopelessness of our state from which God has delivered us. We may now imagine ourselves competent to fend for ourselves, to decide and determine our own way. When we do that, we are again groping in the dark, and we may be sure that we will bring some perilous judgment upon ourselves. One of the blunders we may make during this time is gathering to the wrong man.
Nothing is wrong with gathering. The church, the ekklesia is characterized by its gathering. God’s people are gregarious by nature: they are a body. Members of a body are joined to one another as well as to their head. We are warned against forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. But we must not gather ourselves to a man whom God has not appointed to lead us.
There was nothing wrong with Aaron...as God had called and placed him. He had a high calling as a priest. As a priest, his function was to offer sacrifices to God. He was not only a priest, but a high priest. Whatever it is to which God has called us, it is a high calling, the highest calling for which He has fitted us. Aaron, however, was not called to be a gifted leader of the people. Nor was he a theologian. He did not know God as Moses knew Him. He was not a teacher, nor was he a shepherd....a feeder of the people. All those responsibilities and their gifts were bestowed upon Moses.
A good man in the wrong place will bring terrible havoc on the people of God....Deadly digression!
What he will do: He will make a god! Is that not astounding? This man, Aaron, who was God’s chosen “mouthpiece” for Moses, was ignorant enough, or spineless enough to make an idol and call it God! He will make a traditional god...one with whom the people are comfortable. (These people had been in Egypt 400 years.) They were familiar with, and comfortable with, calf worship. For them, this was the old time religion! Men who are not chosen to lead God’s people do not know God well enough to realize the wrath this provokes. They will tamper with the knowledge of the One Living God!
Such a man will make the people pay dearly for this god. The first thing he will do is take up an offering. He will take your jewels, the most valuable things in your life, and use them to build his religion. He doesn’t care how this might disrupt your personal life. He will have no thought of how he may impoverish God’s people to finance his “ministry.” It is quite true that we who love God will give cheerfully. We will make sacrifices to Him for His people, His gospel and His kingdom. But that is a far cry from what Aaron says: “Break your treasure off and bring it all to me! I will make you a god you will like and enjoy.” These men are not taking your gifts to God: they are taking them up for themselves!
He will create new holy days (holidays) special days, celebrations and crusades to solidify this new and strange religion. He will give the people a “good time of it.” They will enjoy this religion that costs them so much. It will make them intoxicated, silly, and stupid! It will strip them of their garments, make them naked, rob them of their morals, their sanity, and shame them. Is there a move vivid illustration of today’s corrupt “evangelicals”? The people, however, will find this insane reveling coming to an abrupt end. That sweet intoxication will culminate in drinking the bitter waters of God’s wrath and judgment!
Amazingly, God’s wrath and judgment does not fall upon Aaron, but upon the people who put him in the wrong place! This must better instruct us when we see the false ministries, the false super-churches, the apostate denominations proliferating with their thousands and millions of deceived people flocking to them. Who is to blame for this? We almost always blame the leader, the founder, the guy who fashions the golden calf! But that is not who God blames...and punishes for this apostasy! He punishes the people!
Moses is angry with his brother, but seems to be satisfied with his explanation that the people “made him do it.” Surely, Moses was not stupid enough to believe the cock-and-bull story that Aaron gave: “I threw this in the fire and this calf came out.” False prophets, false shepherds (pastors) exist and abound purely and solely because the people want them and make them!
Many good, godly, devout men who have no divine calling may desire to be a pastor or preacher. But that desire cannot make one. Leadership is a gift. Systematic, clear, coherent, orderly teaching is a gift. Preaching is a sovereign gift of God and has no causation in the merit of the man. These cannot be earned or acquired by desire or devotion.
Who is to blame for this proliferation of false leaders? Only a people who are discontent with God’s present provision and impatient with God’s divine delay and appointed time can make a false leader. And when we do that, we have ceased to believe God, to wait on His time. God is not wasting time! His delay has good purpose. Our impatience is wicked unbelief! Except for God’s mercies and purpose this would have been an appropriate end of Israel.
It is here that Moses appears clearly in his role as a type of Christ our Intercessor and Substitute. He rightly declares the people completely unfit for God’s mercies, declares an appropriate judgment...annihilation! But then he appeals to God’s promise, His glory and honor. He identifies with the sinners; he takes their reproach upon himself: “Blot me out for their sin.” It is nothing less than Christ’s intercession for us that keeps us out of hell during these awful digressions. The intercessor spares us the just penalty for our sin and unbelief, but the mercies of God do not stop the chastening rod.
Because this is a congregational sin, God makes the people themselves His chastening rod. Brother is turned against brother, and many died at the hands of their neighbors. Such is the awful, ugly scene of apostate religion! It cannibalizes itself! Each church “grows” at the expense of the other. The big get fatter and bigger, while the small shrink smaller and smaller.
What must be the stance of the faithful during these divine delays? God’s promises and His undertakings are as sure as He is. They arise out of His freely determined purpose. He is perfect in all His thoughts and purposes, so there is never any need to change His mind. He is omnipotent in His execution of whatever He originates, so that nothing can fail to come to full fruition. Any delay, therefore, in the realization of God’s promises, is purely divine: It is God’s deliberate delay according to His good purpose.
There are many reasons why God delays doing what He has promised to do, most of which we have no idea, not even a clue of what He is about. Just think of what God was doing with Moses on the mountain while Israel was fretting, growing angry with Moses, impatient and unbelieving toward God, ready to purge from their hearts the memory of all the good and mighty things He had done. They were making themselves a new god and a new religion.
They had no way of knowing that Moses was, at that very time, communing with God face to Face on their behalf! He was receiving specific instructions on how the Tabernacle, the “habitation of God through the Spirit,” the church of the living God was to be built. He was receiving God’s law, the most perfect legal instrument ever handed to man, containing the full duty of man toward God and man toward man. He was receiving such instructions the people must have in order to enter into the blessed inheritance God was giving to His people.
In like manner, whatever be the promises for which we wait, we ought to remind ourselves that God has initiated, begun, and brought to pass everything that has brought us to our present “Sinai” where we wait under an awful, fearful cloud of darkness.
Whatever the delay might be, the program has not changed. God is doing something that MUST be done, in order to bring to pass the fullness of His promises. Such faithful, patient, waiting, believing and expectation will not, cannot fail to deliver all God has promised.