“They Have Made Them a Molten Calf, and Have Worshipped It”

Exodus 32:1–8

1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord.
6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
7 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Elder John Longden said:

“The following experience in the life of Moses is recorded in Exodus 32:1–8. Moses delayed in coming down from the mount. The children of Israel became restless and said unto Aaron, ‘Make us gods which shall go before us; this Moses, we know not where he is’ [see Exodus 32:1]. So Aaron persuaded them to bring their jewelry, and he fashioned it with a graving tool and made a molten calf. ‘These be thy Gods!’ [Exodus 32:4]. And so Aaron built an altar and proclaimed, ‘We feast, drink, and play’ [see Exodus 32:5–6].

“Then the Lord said unto Moses,

“‘Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: [they have made them a “golden calf”]’ [Exodus 32:7–8]. . . .

“. . . May I say that the golden calf is the carnal or the carnal may be likened unto the worship of the golden calf, or the material things of life—feasting, drinking, and playing, and forgetting the Spirit? . . .

“We cannot serve both God and mammon. It is necessary to know to whom we pray and to pay our devotions so that such may be done in spirit and in truth. . . .

“The Apostle Paul . . . declared:

“‘Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device’ [Acts 17:29].

“We can be influenced by man’s device today which is contrary to enjoying the spirit; ‘. . . for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life’ [2 Corinthians 3:6].

“Are we worshipping God in the full spirit of truth or are there any golden calves or idols in our lives? Do we on occasion worship the gods of hate, bitterness, vanity, deceit, profanity, dishonesty, disloyalty, immorality, apostasy, money, gold, silver, . . . power, clothes, passions, styles, a broken Sabbath, new cars with higher speed, in fact, all material things? The New Testament poses a very important question:

“‘Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?’ [Matthew 6:25].”

(In Conference Report, Apr. 1958, 17, 18.)

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