I have always wondered why God did not slay Aaron for making the golden calf and instead elevated him to become a high priest (Exodus 32). While still in wonderment, trying to have a crack at it, and combing through the Scriptures peradventure to arrive at the most plausible explanation, a little bird whispers into my ears, ‘Why hasn’t God destroyed you, for your bullcrap?’
I strive as much as I can to answer the little bird. And after I convincingly remove the log from my eye, it becomes easier to remove the speck in Aaron’s eye.
‘Heinous’ heroes of the Bible
You have to fall in love with the Bible; for it never glosses over the smuts of its heroes. There are no sacred cows in the Bible. If I am a cheat, then the Bible will parade me as one. Take the example of Abraham. Abraham (Genesis 12) instructed Sarah to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister and not wife. Abraham was doing this out of selfishness – to protect himself. It seems that he never gave a hoot what would befall Sarah. Perhaps, he did not give it a serious thought. That is what we do most of the times. We say and do things without thinking through first. Abraham did not believe that God would protect both of them. Before you sneer at Abraham, remember we are all rogues and hangman’s noose should be our portion: we just sin differently. That is why you find a thief calling David an adulterer and a forked-tongue fellow mocking Rahab. It is not hard to see the green-eyed monster scorn the egotistic one; a manipulator derides the lazy one, and a cheater points the finger at the lover of tittle-tattle. Hey, I am not soothing you so that you feel better about your mischevious ways: Far from it. When you sail through the doldrums, you will see a lot of flotsam and jetsam floating in the Sargasso Sea.
We are not better
Jon Courson, a Bible Teacher and pastor Applegate Christian Fellowship, nails it when he says that we are fond of comparing our strengths to the weaknesses of Bible heroes. A Christian who happens to be a pathological liar, but does not commit adultery, would want us to think he is righteous than David by drawing such a comparison. That is an improper comparison, and I think that is why the Bible admonishes us to go slow when dishing out judgments to fellow men. The Bible does not stop us from judging, but it instructs us to be cautious about it. Look at the verse below carefully (Matthew 7:2). If you judged then use the same standard, you would want to be used on you.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:2 (NIV)
Our judgment, most of the time, is bereft of love. Our cup of love is lacking, but the jar of judgment is flooding. It is only God who sees the heart. Our limited knowledge should be our ceiling to our judgmental inclinations. We judge because we want to boost our self-concept. We judge so that we can feel better about our own weaknesses and inadequacies. Often what lies at the heart of judgment are feelings and attitudes that are more hurtful to people around us than the judgment itself. It is the same case with jealousy. Jealousy masks deep-seated feelings of possessiveness, insecurity or shame. A jealous person torments and berates himself/herself with self-critical thoughts.
Let us go back to Aaron. Does it bug you that as God was writing the commandments, someone down the mountain was already breaking them?
Can you imagine you are a senior pastor of a megachurch, you go away to seek the face of the Lord and leave the congregation in the hands of your second. When you come back, you find your assistant has made a golden calf, or something close to that, and has allowed the congregation to worship and dance naked around it. What would you do? Would you promote that fellow to become a ‘high priest?’ These are weighty matters. Isn’t it?
When we study the Bible thoughtfully and allow the Spirit to illuminate the verses, we discover that God had a trend of using the most dubious characters to serve important roles. Aaron, the man who supervised the Israelites as they danced naked before the golden calf and worship it, is the same man God promoted to become the high priest and lead the Israelites in worshipping Him. This is a sheer conundrum.
God chose the weak things of the earth to shame the strong. Who else can best teach the blessings of worshipping Yahweh and the ramifications of worshipping idols than Aaron?
Do you think Moses ever questioned God when He designated Aaron as the High Priest? Did he ask God to force Aaron to pay the piper? If he didn’t, was Moses practising nepotism? How many people have we been judging when we hardly know anything about them?
How best can I solve this enigma? Sola Gratia!