Friday, September 21, 2012

WHAT WAS HE THINKING!!!...why did Aaron make the golden calf

ETHER 12:27 And if men come unto me; I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. BOOK OF MORMON
3 Nephi 9:13-1413 O all ye  that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? BOOK OF MORMON
14 Yea verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me, ye shall have eternal life. Behold mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.
It had never occurred to me that God gives “unto men weakness”; which in light world view, can be a big bag of tricks. I thought that most of our weaknesses were self -inflicted and reflected on our characters. In the world a prevailing “religious notion” is that all men come into the world in a state of evil.  But, I disagree, if Ether 12:27 is a good reference, we are born and as babies and children pure, but even then we will grow into our weakness. What are those weaknesses? I believe; and using myself as a reference, personal weakness that is not recognized for its potential to either cause harm or to build up can at times influence our behavior. 
For example: when I was in Jr. High I wanted to be like everyone else. Or in kid speak, I wanted to be popular and not the geek, I knew myself to be. I didn’t have the means to buy the trendy clothes or the games or whatever was “the thing”. So I would seek out the leader of the popular girls, and ingratiate myself into the circle, by performing a service. Maybe I could tutor them in some of their hard subjects, write their papers, and be the overall “group mascot”.  So it worked and I was “in”, but after a while, I found myself the keeper of secrets. I knew everyone’s secrets, not because they confided in me, but because I wrote their papers, and unwittingly helped them to “cheat” in math (unknown to me).When they were AWOL from Gym class, the question from some of our shared teachers was” Have you seen this person? Where is she? Isn’t she your friend?” We can by default become responsible for the actions of our friends, when our decisions affect their subsequent actions.
What resulted from these friendships was a lot of lying and evasiveness on my part, because of misplaced loyalties. Soon these girls moved on to other groups and I was not invited, but then neither did anyone else want to befriend me. 
 Now, I can name this weakness as one of Insecurity, which has followed me my entire life, it has a large bag of tricks. How to master this particular weakness? When it brings with it moments of crippling self doubt, fear and many other “self abuses”?   Recognition is the first step to healing.

The Lord has a formula or even a law that goes hand in hand with our agency. When we consider choices that will influence us in the present, this choice may also influence a generation to come or others close to us in our “sphere”. Do we make a choice because of our emotion driven weakness; come what will or may? Or can we make an “informed” choice, weighing the consequences and hopefully choosing the right one.
D&C 130:20-2120 There is a law; irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated-
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
D&C 82:10 I, the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.
I have been reading the Old Testament and it has really helped me to understand the Book of Mormon. I have been curious at the records of the “wickedness” of the people. How did they get that way?
Does personal weakness ultimately lead to wickedness? I vote no, but it can lead you down the path if we forget to consider that Heavenly Father has a solution to help us “overcome” them. Jesus declares in John 5 that He has “overcome the world”.  What an audacious statement; how did he overcome the “world and all of its temptations, etc?  Do you think Jesus had personal weaknesses’? You bet he did.
John 5:30 (31-32) Amplified Bible30 I am able to do nothing from myself [independently, of my own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me.
31 If I alone testify in my behalf, my testimony is not valid and cannot be worth anything.
32 There is Another Who testifies concerning me, and I know and am certain that His evidence on my behalf is true and valid.
In Exodus 32:1-6; there is the record of Aaron and the Golden Calf. Do you remember that story?  Maybe Aaron will “speak” to us and defend his choice and subsequent behavior.
The story goes down in Exodus 32:1-6
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, and make us gods that shall go before us; for 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.”
And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 
So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 
And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” 
Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
In Exodus 32:1-6 Aaron is left in charge of the “people brought out of the land of Egypt”. Moses has been communing with Jehovah for about 40 days. The people are getting restless. They are out of their comfort zones, seemingly stranded in the desert wilderness; left to their own devices. At a time  like this, a group of people would start to re-form old “cliques and gangs”. Some “of the people” were not Hebrews, there were stow-aways. They did start to murmur against Moses, and they probably “sized up” Aaron and concluded that “He was no Moses”.  
They say to Aaron, “Come, make us “gods” that will go before us” and as for this Moses, the man who persuaded us to come out of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him. Can you imagine the scene, the hostility and underlying panic of the people?Was it a stand off?  Do you think Aaron was intimidated? Did he display some false bravado, or maybe he was offended. There is no record of Aaron voicing a defense and a call for obedience and patience. Instead he seems to affect a compromise in making the golden calf.
And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf
Someone in the crowd said this: Then they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
Wow; to make matters worse, he builds an alter “before it” so that sacrifices can be made to “the Lord” (What Lord is he referring to?)
So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” 
Things are going from bad to worse, and the road to “No Return”.
So mean while, Jehovah has caught wind of this and he says to Moses:
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down; For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.
I am not judging Aaron’s behavior, because there is so much underlying in his reaction. Maybe Aaron attempted to put up a  defense for “waiting on the Lord” and remaining obedient until Moses came back. Surely he was outnumbered. So he decided to “compromise” or placate them. Whatever transpired we do not know at this time, but we can attribute this series of events to a personal weakness of Aaron’s. Maybe he was a peacemaker in the weakest sense. He didn’t want to offend the people and they would leave, and then what would he tell Moses?
Of course we know what happens next, all hell is let loose: In 3 Nephi, this scene is so aptly described:
3 Nephi 9:2 Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent; for the devil laughed, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and their abominations that they are fallen.
The Lord commented at how so quickly the people had turned from Him. I invite you to read this record in Exodus 32.  Moses’ intercedes for the people and for Aaron. The Lord considers punishing them quickly, but because of the intercession of Moses’ He is moved to compassion. He will forgive them on this account because of Moses, the sin is forgiven, but the consequences of the sin must be met. Moses had a peculiar question for his brother:
Exodus 32:19-21
19 So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.
 20 Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it. 

21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”

How did Aaron bring sin upon this people? Because he was the leader of the people, the High Priest. He did not obey God’s commandments and establish law and order while Moses was gone, so the people followed his example. Was Aaron in denial? Or just afraid, not sure of what his role was, not sure of his identity, not sure of his brother Moses, not sure of God?

Exodus 32:22-2422 So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people that they are set on evil. 
23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 
24 And 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.”
Wow, can you hear that whiny tone. You have heard this tone with your own people no doubt. I am not judging. What is the weakness of Aaron?

  • Did he have a problem with “serving his younger brother” Moses?
  • Was he paying attention in all of the “meetings” concerning his leadership responsibilities?
  •  Why didn’t he pray unto the Father for guidance?
Because of these deep seated emotions in Aaron, he made a weak choice to allow the people to change the plan, to corrupt the plan. 

God still finds fault with Aaron's action. Exodus 32:23 states, "And when Moses saw that the people were broken loose for Aaron had let them loose for a division among their enemies." This criticism is lodged against Aaron for one cannot make compromises with idol worship. The emotion is so powerful that if one allows it to be expressed in his behavioral patterns; it will ultimately dominate his actions and destroy him. Moses upon his return took extremely drastic measures. He openly expressed outrage and threw the tablets to the ground and shattered them. He thereby gathered to his side the Levites, who killed three thousand men. Moses' extreme actions were purposeful to demonstrate that one cannot compromise nor tolerate with the emotion for idolatry. The basic philosophy of Judaism is antithetical to these types of emotions. The Golden Calf Rabbi Israel Chait
How does the Lord help us to overcome the world, work out the thorny points in our weakness? The first thing he does is clarify that weakness is not sin, but if left unchecked weakness can lead to sin. In our struggles with our weakness, we can ask in prayer for guidance. And most of all, don't despair. I mean, this works for me. 

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