In Exodus chapter 32 we learn the story of the golden calf. Moses had gone up on the mountain to receive the Word of God. In the beginning of chapter 32, the people didn’t know what had become of Moses. There were among the children of Israel, those who came up from Egypt with them. These were the people whom Moses accepted but were not of the children of Israel. These were the rabble-rousers who insisted Aaron make for them gods to worship. They were accustomed to having many gods. Aaron succumbed to them and the golden calf was made. Today we have a similar golden calf. It is none other than Jesus.
We see in the New Testament that the people were living in troubled times. The Roman Empire had conquered Judea and, as was their custom, instituted their own governance over the land. Herod the Great was made king by the Romans. He was an evil man who is credited with the killing of the “holy innocents”. While the only account of this is in the New Testament, it sets the stage for what would come, Jesus. (Herod actually died in 4 BCE) The Jesus character in the New Testament is cast as the savior who would defeat the Romans and rule as the king of the Jews and return them to the great nation they once were. Clearly, none of this happened.
What we see in the New Testament, when we look closely, is a picture of a nation in trouble. The Romans allowed the Jews to keep their religion. They weren’t interested in destroying the Jews. It was in their best interest to keep things as they were. The Temple was allowed to stand. Herod even renovated the Temple Mount, the remains of which still stand today. Not until the revolt of 70CE was the Temple destroyed. There were problems during the end of the second temple era. But it is important to know that the priests were still in place. The Sanhedrin was also in place, although they didn’t have complete authority. The sons of Aaron were standing in his place but just like in Aaron’s time, with Moses gone, there was no real leader to set the example for the people. The result was the same. A segment of the people turned to idolatry.
The golden calf is just like Jesus in that they both represented multiple gods. In the fourth verse, we see that it says, “These are your gods, O Israel, who have brought you up from the land of Egypt!” Now we know that the golden calf was a singular object but they say “These are your gods”. In the same way, Jesus represents multiple gods, the trinity, which were to save Israel from the Romans. At least, that is what was expected.
One thing that many people fail to see in the story of the golden calf is verse 5. When Aaron saw [this], he built an altar in front of it, and Aaron proclaimed and said: “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” This is the biggest similarity of them all. Even though they had built the golden calf, they were going to have a festival to the Lord. They didn’t really believe that the calf had brought them out of Egypt. They knew God had done it. What they wanted was a symbol to represent God. This is exactly what Christianity is doing with Jesus. Jesus is the symbol that the church has stood up in place of the God of Israel. Just like the people in the desert, Christians know about the God of Israel. They know He created the universe. They know about the miracles. They know about the Patriarchs and the prophets. The problem is that they are trying to worship Him in a way that He detests, through idolatry. Deuteronomy 6 tells us that God is one. He is not a multiple, nor is He divisible.
Daniel chapter 2 describes what will happen when the Messiah comes. Verse 44 And in the days of these kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom forever, it will not be destroyed, and the kingdom will not be left to another people; it will crumble and destroy all these kingdoms, and it will stand forever. Just like Moses who destroyed the golden calf of his time, the Messiah will destroy the golden calf of our time. May he come speedily in our days.
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