When Moses was in Mt. Sinai to receive the Law from God, Aaron was at the foot of the mountain leading the people in idolatrous worship (Exodus 32: 1- 35). How did it happen?
The problem was that the people became restless. They’ve been weary of all their desert wanderings. They needed to feel at home. They needed a spiritual fix. Something to fire them up and to make them feel good minus the responsibility and the cost of obedience.
But Moses’ God was so terrifying. The whole time they were in the desert, the Israelites felt like they were always tiptoeing around the name of Yahweh. What’s there to fear? Why can’t they be just like the people around them, with all their comfortable religion and easy spiritualism? Why can’t Yahweh be just like any other god?
And so they made the golden calf. Just like the calf god of Egypt which they decidedly left behind. Isn’t it sad that they were going back to the idolatry that they already renounced? That the god they fled from now ensnared them again? All because they were looking for a relevant god.
A god that would keep up with the times and adapt to social changes. A god that will not hold them accountable. A god they can worship with no strings attached. A god they can put aside when they don’t feel like worshiping. A god who will let them live any way they want. In other words, a very convenient god.