Where is God?
*hello! Sorry for the hiatus especially to those of you who financially contribute. I am promising that by November we will be all caught up. I wish I could tell you exactly what happened but really, I just got overwhelmed by Covid. I think for my ‘back posts’ I will be sticking with the Exodus texts. I think we need to recognize the deep wilderness each of us is in.
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." 2 Aaron said to them, "Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord." 6 They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.
7 The Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8 they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!' " 9 The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation." 11 But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, "It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, "I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.' " 14 And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
The people of God have been in the wilderness for a lot longer than thought. They have been walking for what feels like forever. They understood how to do this for a month, or maybe even three, but this thing was stretching on forever. “Where is God in this? Why would God leave us to die in the middle of this impossible thing? I need something I can put my hands on. I need…a God I can hold.”
So they made one. They didn’t understand exactly what God was doing, or even really anything God was doing. They didn’t understand how God could feel so absent. They needed a God they could understand, so they made one. Isn’t that something we could understand? Isn’t that something we get. We don’t understand a God who isn’t fixing everything, so we talk of a God who is at least doing it all on purpose, we make a God in an image we can understand, instead of believing that God’s image is in us.
We can’t understand what is going on because our lives aren’t wired for this kind of radical uncertainty. Also, the world is radically uncertain. It probably always has been it is just that it is so obvious right now. We really cannot be sure of almost anything. But we can absolutely be sure of who God is.
Because Moses knows and banks on that reputation as he pleads with God to give the people another chance, not because they deserve it but because God is radically for us, even when it feels like there is nothing but God’s weird absence in a time we could really use a parting of the red sea kind of moment. Everything is radically uncertain, but God’s love is not. We don’t need a golden calf to remind us, we can know from what God has done before.