Exodus 32:2 & 4-5
So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” … And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
We remember King David’s sin vividly, don’t we? The plot, the affair, the brutal murder of a friend. It’s the sort of crime that only a heartless, power-hungry tyrant can pull off. Yet, we remember his weeping, gut-wrenching confession in Psalm 51 as well, and it’s the sort of penitence that only a man after God’s own heart can utter. The same is true for people like Jacob and Samson and Esther and Nebuchadnezzar and Peter and Paul and John Mark and on and on. That’s why I love the words of that old hymn, “Grace is greater than all our sin,” because it’s the truth we discover over and over again throughout the Bible. The difference between a godly heart and an ungodly one is not compromise—for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God—but confession.
Frankly, how is Aaron not utterly appalled at himself here in Exodus 32? How does he not fall on his own sword in Judas-like fashion after performing so blatant a blasphemy?! Seriously: are his lips not stammering uncontrollably as he tells the people to bring him their gold? Are his priestly hands not trembling feverishly as he forges this calf? Is his conscience not screaming through every motion, “How dare you do this?!” It’s one thing for a priest of God to be involved in a crime this big, but to be the mastermind of it, to oversee the ordeal, to have his fingerprints on every crevice of the incriminating evidence, as if he’s proud to own it, is a penetrating stain that no amount of penance can wash away.
Yet God has a choice for Aaron even still—the same choice He gives to you and me in the midst of our own sins: “Come now, let us reason together; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).