When I read the story of the golden calf, I’m always reminded of Isaiah 40:30-31 in the old King James Bible: “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” It’s the word “wait” that catches my attention. In our time, to “wait” means to delay action until something expected happens. In the King James Bible, “wait” meant to “trust,” and that’s what Israel isn’t doing in Exodus 32. They couldn’t “wait” for Moses to return because they didn’t “trust” the Lord. Impatience with God comes from a lack of faith: a lack of confidence that He knows what He is doing; a lack of confidence that He has a plan.
Chapter 32 is filled with stupidity.
Israel loses faith in the Lord who has delivered them, so they transfer their allegiance to an idol that looks like a young cow that can be fashioned by a man using a tool – a small, mute and impotent god to be sure – one they could control, but who could not rescue.
Aaron stupidly explains his actions: “they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” Did he really expect Moses to buy that?
But the story is also filled with grace. Moses undertook to reason with God, hoping to temper the Lord’s anger. He reminded Him of God’s reputation in the pagan world. He reminded God of His promises to Abraham and Isaac. But in the end, Moses offered his own soul for that of his people, and God relented. In your daily prayers, remember especially those who have lost faith and turned from God. Your intercession may be just what they need to be saved.