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Golden Calf

The Bible in Art: Golden Calf   

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Verses for Consideration: Exodus 32:21

21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”

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When asked about the golden calf, Aaron gave an answer that sounded like the prototype for all lame excuses to come: “They gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

Aaron does a familiar two-step dance that is literally as old as Adam, who invented it. Call it the blame-shift shuffle. Step 1 is placing the fault somewhere else: “You know how prone these people are to evil.” Step 2 is declaring or implying that you were a victim of circumstances beyond your control. “Out came this calf” was Aaron’s way of saying he had no influence over or knowledge of what happened.

Recognizing the blame-shift shuffle in others is easy. More difficult is admitting that we are pretty good dancers ourselves.

“Don’t blame me” and “It’s not my fault” are statements that declare our innocence even when we know that some blame rests with us. As children, we said, “He started it,” and that seemingly justified our retaliation. As adults, we simply find more sophisticated ways to defend revenge.

The blame-shift shuffle is a deadly dance because it keeps us from acknowledging and confessing our wrongs. John wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” The truth that we need a Savior from sin becomes remote when we fail to admit that we sin. The grace of God to sinners is lost on those who don’t believe they need it. The truth is that we sin every hour of every day. In regular confession we tell God how badly we need his Son, Jesus.

Rather than shuffling away from our sins, let us sprint to the cross of Christ, where we can lay our sins and bask in the warmth of his forgiveness.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess my sins before you and know that I am not worthy to be called your child. Yet I know that in Christ I am forgiven, and I praise you for your unfailing love. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Title: The Adoration of the Golden Calf (1634)

Artist: Nicolas Poussin