“Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, 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.” (Exodus 32:1 NKJV).
The Scripture clearly records how God humbled, humiliated and confounded the haughty and stubborn Pharaoh the king of Egypt and brought His people out of Egypt with great signs and wonders. God descended mightily upon the Egyptians in an unmistakable and undisputable manner.
The sorcerers and magicians of Pharaoh clearly recognized that it was God and not Moses that was dealing with them. They rightly pointed out to Pharaoh, saying, “This is the finger of God.” (Exo. 8:19 NKJV).
Ironically, many of the children of Israel didn’t recognize that. How sad!
Many of the children of Israel wrongly assumed or concluded that it was just Moses who delivered them from the bondage of Pharaoh and brought them out of Egypt. The temporary absence of Moses clearly exposed their ignorance, unbelief or confusion.
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, 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.” (NKJV).
While Moses delayed in returning from the mountain where he had gone to receive from God the tablets of the law, the children of Israel became fearful and perplexed, and they gathered themselves together to Aaron and demanded that he make for them gods that will go before them to the Promised Land.
Unfortunately, Aaron granted them their evil request to their shame and destruction. Their reason or excuse for seeking for new gods was that they didn’t know what has happened to Moses on the mountain.
They said, “for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” (Exo. 32:1 NKJV).
Obviously, they were not fully aware, convinced or persuaded that it was God, and not Moses, who redeemed them from slavery and was leading them to the Promised Land. How sad?
Moses was undoubtedly one of the greatest servants of God that ever lived. He was said to be the meekest man in his generation (Num. 12:3).
God testified concerning Moses, saying, “He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD.” (Num. 12:7-8 NKJV).
Moses was mightily used of God in his generation. It is impossible to write about the history of Israel without speaking about the unique role Moses played.
Although Moses was mightily used of God as an instrument of deliverance for the children of Israel, yet Moses never claimed to be the one who saved, delivered or redeemed the people from slavery. Moses repeatedly presented God as the deliverer of His people (Exo. 6:6, Deut. 4:34, 5:15, 11:2, 26:8).
How then did the people mistake Moses for the God who delivered and brought them out of Egypt?
It is certainly wisdom for us to find out!
Obviously, the ignorant, carnal and undiscerning children of Israel wanted some gods to go before them in their journey as a replacement for Moses, who they claimed brought them out of Egypt (Exo. 32:1).
Perhaps if they had personally known God as their true Saviour, Deliverer or Redeemer, they would have remained calmed in the absence of Moses, knowing that their God is ever living and present with them and would continue to lead them even in the absence of Moses.
But, who should be blamed for their ignorance, carnality, or spiritual immaturity?
It would be very unfair to entirely blame Moses or hold him totally responsible for the carnality, idolatry, ignorance, or spiritual immaturity of the congregation he shepherded for about forty years. However, Moses cannot be entirely absolved from all the blame either.
The thrust of this piece is not to apportion blame, but to discover their blunders so as to avoid them and also to learn from them.
1 Corinthians 10:
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (NKJV).
What are the lessons we can learn from this account or incidence?
First, Moses’ style of leadership contributed largely to the spiritual immaturity or lack of discernment of his congregation, the children of Israel.
How did he contribute to it?
Observing carefully the leadership of Moses, it is obvious that it was “a one man show leadership.”
It was a kind of leadership that elevated one man above the rest and drew much attention to only one man. It was a kind of leadership that did it all by himself and thus caused all the people to look up to him and depend only upon him.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law recognized this and rebuked Moses, saying, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.” (Exo. 18:14-15 NKJV).
Besides the ineffectiveness and weariness that go with “one man show leadership,” it will eventually lead to idolatry – making a god out of the man, or seeking for another god to replace the man in his absence. That is what actually happened to the children of Israel.
It is very unfortunate to observe many men of God in our generation still patterning or modeling their leadership after Moses. “One man show leadership” is not the New Testament kind of leadership. It will not produce a spiritually mature and discerning people.
As seen in the case of Moses, no matter our good intention, charisma, humility, or spirituality; the one man show leadership can only produce spiritually immature, undiscerning, carnal, and idolatrous babies.
Beloved, when you practice or adopt one man show leadership – doing it all by yourself, drawing attention only to yourself, making people look up to you and depend only upon you; you are simply making a god for your followers or congregation.
No matter what you say or do, you cannot stop the undiscerning and immature ones among your congregation from worshipping you or treating you as a god.
Likewise, in your absence, as it was in the case of Moses, you cannot stop them from seeking for another god as a replacement for you. It is therefore wisdom to avoid or reject this kind of leadership and its inherent pitfalls or traps.
Paul admonishes us, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Philip. 2:3 NKJV).
Discover more lessons from this incidence in the second part of this piece.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I refuse to set myself above Your people or draw the attention and affection of Your people to myself. So help me Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.