The people all responded together (to the 10 commandments), “We will do everything the Lord has said.”
Aaron took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. Then Aaron announced “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”
If I asked you if you had idols in your life, you would like respond, “No,” emphatically. Most of you do not have a small item in your closet that you pray to daily, or sacrifice items before, but I would guess that most of you have idols in your life, they’re just more subtle. The challenge though is that many idols on the surface are not bad, and a number of them are even “Christian” things.
I have a Christian cause or ministry that I am passionate about. I believe that Cause A is important for the Kingdom of God. So I give of my time, money, and efforts to support it. My passion leads me to defend and protect my cause with great vigor and in a very confrontational manner if anyone ever speaks in a less than adoring way towards it. I might yell at people, or handle conversations in a manner that is not Christ-like, but it’s ok because I am passionate. You have an idol.
I love the traditions my church has around Christmas time or another time of year. I believe that it helps us to connect with God in a special way. So when I heard that our church was trying something different, I made my mind known clearly, that anything else would compromise the integrity of that worship, I even called all my friends to tell them about the silly decision to worship God another way, like there is another way, hah. You are defending an idol.
The people of God quickly moved from we will do whatever God wants (Ex 19:8), to worshipping a golden calf, so what happened? When Aaron built the golden calf, he thought he was aiding in worshiping God (see 32:4-5), but in his desire to worship God, he crossed a line and literally created an idol. He thought first about what He wanted, and what the people of Israel wanted.
There is nothing wrong with having a passion for a cause or ministry, or a passion for tradition, but like Aaron, when our motivation shifts from God to me, and mine; we have an idol. Pastor Tim Harlow says this about idols, “Idols are not about replacing God with something else, it’s about replacing God with me, and what I want.” If you are not careful, you can justify away your idols as having passion, defending the integrity of something, or even taking a stand for God. We can quickly justify anything God or church related as acceptable, but we have to be careful that we, like Aaron, are not worshipping an idol, when we thought we were worshipping God.