What on earth were you thinking?? (Bible Ponderings#1)

Welcome to my first ever “Bible Ponderings” where every month or so I hope to toss out what I’m currently pondering in my one year chronological bible reading plan and invite you to ponder with me! I’m not a bible scholar, so if good apologetics is what you’re after you may like to peruse some of the excellent teaching from bloggers such as Bruce Cooper at Reasoned Cases for Christ . 🙂

Ever find yourself pointing the mental finger toward someone and saying to yourself: “What on earth were you thinking?” 

In the book of Exodus we find the familiar yet infamous events surrounding the making of the golden calf. In a nutshell: Aaron and two of his sons, plus seventy of the elders of Israel, had the privilege of going part way up the mountain of God with Moses. There they saw the God of Israel. Moses then goes further up the mountain with his assistant Joshua, leaving Aaron and Hur in charge. (Exodus 24:9-15 NKJV)

Fast forward to less than forty days later. Moses is still up the mountain and nobody knows if he’s dead or alive. The masses are getting restless! They take their “difficulties” to Aaron. What a precarious position to be in! There’s the potential for a mob which could quickly turn nasty. Aaron comes up with the brilliant idea that he will mold a golden calf to appease the people’s desire for a god to go before them. (Exodus 32:1-4)

It’s at this point I’m asking “Aaron, what on earth are you thinking?” This is blatant disobedience on his part to God’s command “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…” (Exodus 20:4) Is Aaron motivated by fear for his own safety? Or is it a knee jerk reaction to the pressure of suddenly being thrust into the leadership position and having no clue how to handle this unexpected development? Where’s Hur? Is Aaron of the prideful opinion that here’s his chance to sort these people out before Moses gets back? Is he listening to bad advice from the elders? Or is it just plain foolish thinking where he blurts out the first thing that comes into his head?

(my ponderings involve a lot of rhetorical questions :))

When Moses finally returns and sees the “partying” going on around the golden calf idol, he challenges Aaron who replies, “… I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.” (Exodus 32:22-24 NKJV)

Aaron’s response is pretty typical of “getting caught out”, and his sin would reap serious consequences. (Exodus 32:25-35 NKJV).

As I ponder these events  I realise that I shouldn’t slap my forehead in disbelief at Aaron, or the Israelites, or imagine I would have done any better in their shoes.

Rashness, pride or foolishness…whatever Aaron’s reasoning in making the golden calf, the bottom line is he really blew it. But don’t we all sometimes?

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.“(1 Cor 10:11 NKJV)

The “them” are the Israelites and we need to actually point the mental finger at ourselves and ask, “What can I learn from this?”

“Learning from our mistakes is smart, but learning from the mistakes of others is wise!”  

-anonymous

Something to ponder!

13 thoughts on “What on earth were you thinking?? (Bible Ponderings#1)

  1. Janene Handley

    Ooh. Chronological Bible – I did that last year and remember groaning at the Israelites’ stupidity and consequences where people forgot to follow the Lord and thought then acted in their own understanding. But then I’m constantly asking God to remove the plank out of my eyes. I think I will cycle back into Chronological Bible once I’ve finished Revelations.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Janene Handley

    Ooh. Chronological Bible – I did that last year and remember groaning at the Israelites’ stupidity and consequences where people forgot to follow the Lord and thought then acted in their own understanding. But then I’m constantly asking God to remove the plank out of my eyes. I think I will cycle back into Chronological Bible once I’ve finished Revelations.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I enjoyed your ponderings Jo! It definitely takes a humble heart to read the Bible and not inwardly say, “I would never do that.” I like the question you posed that we all should ponder as we read Biblical events – “What can I learn from this?” Your closing quote “Learning from our mistakes is smart, but learning from the mistakes of others is wise” brought to mind Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” It made me wonder if that is one of the reasons the Lord made sure events such as that of the Golden Calf were included in the Bible so that we could learn from the mistakes of others and gain His wisdom.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great questions to ponder. I sometimes wonder if one of the contributing factors may have been that they had been living among the idolatrous Egyptians for 400 years, who had golden images of half-man half-animal “gods” that they worshipped. Perhaps Aaron thought he would compromise and make an idol that was unquely “Hebrew” (differentiated from the Egyptians) and chose the calf because the Hebrews were herdsmen, unlike the Egyptians. He may have rationalized his sin any number of ways (as we have all been prone to do at one time or another). He may even have thought that Moses wasn’t coming back, having died in the presence of God or something, and so felt he was in desperate straits. Who knows, but it was obviously a huge mistake that cost many lives, as sin often does. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great thoughts Craig! That sounds like a very feasible possibility and yes, I can imagine that compromising like that would have made perfect sense to Aaron in the pressure of the situation! I’m going to ponder on that. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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