Have you ever decided to leave a situation of what was undoubtedly not good for you only to find yourself wishing to be back in that place of familiarity? All of us have at one time or another. The danger of returning to what we once knew and had often found comfort in is that it often slows the progression of peace, joy, and righteousness down; for many, it will lead them back to some form of bondage. When people cry out for the familiar because the promise of new is taking too long, there will be consequences of that action, for a Christian it may lead to death.
In the book of Exodus, we read an account of Moses leading the people of God out of the bondage of Egypt. Several times during the journey to freedom we see the people complaining to Moses that he and God had brought them out so they would die. Every time things appeared difficult their fear would drive them back to the remembrance of familiarity. The desire to go back to what we once knew is often birthed out of a fear and a need to cope with a situation that seems out of control. We would rather go back to the old way of living where it may have been a time of bondage but it was a bondage we had grown comfortable with.
While these people were in Egypt for generations, they learned of Egyptian worship and customs, and without having a godly leader for many years, they would have likely found themselves worshipping the gods of Egypt, such as the ox-worship called Apis. The mythology behind this ox-worship states that Apis was believed to have been sacrificed and reborn, and the manner of conception was a “ray of light.” We can find all through ancient mythology both Greek and Roman, a twist on the conception, birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the Trinity as it relates to God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
When Moses and the people arrived at Mount Sinai, he went up to the mountain to meet with God and during this time, 40 days and nights, God wrote on tablets of stone the commandments of the Lord. During this time the people were supposed to be under the care of Aaron, but they began to rebel against God and asked Aaron to make them a god that they could worship.
Let’s look at this request a bit more. I have often wondered why Aaron chose an image of a calf to represent the requested gods. As I began to do some research, I realized one potential reason why a calf may have been chosen. Remember they witnessed the Egyptians worship various idols and they put special care in Apis, a live bull that was kept in a temple. The bull represented a tangible, living, breathing expression of a god that could not be directly experienced in daily life. Since the people were afraid to speak to God and told Moses to speak for them, perhaps this “calf god” was less threatening to them.