God’s standard of holiness is taken for granted and not understood by a great many people. It was this way in the days of Moses and it is this way still in our day. Why the disrespect? Any number of reasons could be given, but it boils down to the simple “I want.” Someone might say, “I am not all that interested in taking time to learn. Therefore, I won’t!” This was a catastrophic approach of the people then, and it is today also.
In Exodus 32, the people failed to really appreciate what God had done for them and what He demanded of the them. The scene is Aaron in God-ordained leadership over the people as Moses went up the mountain to speak with God. While the chapter is noted for the failure of the people, it is the failure of leadership that gets overlooked. This failure in leadership was a failure to adhere to God’s demands.
Think about this. It was but a short time earlier that God’s people walked on the sea floor, a dry sea floor, to escape the Egyptians. They willingly put this behind them as they put before them a complaint that Moses was not in their presence taking them to the land of promise. The short-sightedness of the people is plain remarkable! The refused to look any further past their noses because they wanted to receive God’s promise yesterday!
Aaron, evidently, was not as spiritually strong as he should have been. When Moses went up the mountain the people saw an opportunity and led Aaron into sin. So serious was Aaron’s sin, the Lord was determined to punish him with his life (Deuteronomy 9:20). From the Lord’s perspective, there was no excuse for him in this failure of leadership (Exodus 32:18-25).
A few quick lessons can be gleaned from this. First, God’s demand concerning holiness is never to be taken for granted. When it is, catastrophe is invited. Second, seeing one’s future only in one’s immediate environment is not seeing life as it needs to be seen. There is far more to life than just one’s physical environment. Third, godly leadership is crucial to God and His people; without it, the people wonder and wander, and lives are forever changed.