When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
Mark this, friend: the devil cannot deceive us against our will. He can tempt us all he likes, he can flash alluring ads before our eyes, he can whisper distracting words to draw our minds away from quiet prayer, but we as image-bearing human beings have to say ‘yes’ on our own volition. Temptation doesn’t snatch us away like a thief in the night. We meet it head on. We choose take the fateful step out the door. We willfully leave a light on and a window open and a packed bag by our bedside. See, friend, from the very first sin in Eden, from the moment Eve took the fruit and Adam likewise ate of it, a dark, unsettling fact of our human nature became apparent. That we can deceive ourselves into believing that God-forbidden fruit and Holy Communion are not mutually exclusive. That we can eat our fill of sin Monday through Saturday and wash it all down with some bread and wine on Sunday.
That’s why Aaron is able to fashion this golden calf so brazenly. He says it clearly in verse 5: “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” Note that: to the Lord? But Aaron, are you talking about the same Lord Who commanded in Exodus 20, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image … you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God?” You mean that Lord?! I hear Aaron responding back, “Yes, but we haven’t seen that Lord for forty days now, remember? The people need a visual, something they can see and touch—the Lord understands; as long as we aren’t worshipping Baal or Ra or Moloch, He’s fine with it! Come on—join the celebration! Don’t miss out!”
Christian, we can’t have golden-calf potlucks and Holy Communion at the same time. We can’t eat forbidden fruit in secret and enjoy Edenic blessing simultaneously. Today, like every other day, we’ll have to choose which table to join.