Aaron: Hey, you’re back. Thank goodness! Hey, everyone, Moses is back. My brother. Where you been? We were getting’ worried.
Moses: Oh. I’m sorry. I certainly didn’t mean to dawdle. It’s just I was a little busy talking with the sovereign creator of the universe. I tried to let him know that I was on a tight time table, but he had a lot to tell me and seemed fairly insistent that I hear all of it.
Aaron: Okay, okay. No need for sarcasm. So what’d he say? Did he give you something to bring back to us?
Moses: Yeah, as a matter of fact he did. I came back with a couple of stone tablets but I smashed them to bits a few minutes back.
Aaron (confused): Um… any particular reason?
Moses: Yes, a very particular reason. I was infuriated.
Aaron: Infuriated with who?
(Moses just stares incredulously)
Aaron: With me?
(Moses continues staring)
Aaron: But… why?
Moses: Why? You’re asking me why? Is that a legit question or are you playing some kind of game here? Cuz Aaron, hear me when I tell you I am in no mood.
Aaron: Oh. You mean that.
Moses: Yes. I mean that. You want to explain to me exactly what that is?
Aaron: Uh… well… it’s a… calf.
Moses: And why a calf? Is this a representation of the chief god, El?
Aaron: No. Certainly not. It’s Yahweh
Moses: Why, in the name of heaven, would you need a statue of Yahweh. He is with us! I was just speaking with him.
Aaron: It’s a representation. It’s, y’know, god-like.
Moses: What’s it made out of?
Aaron: It’s made out of… uh… gold.
Moses: Is Yahweh made of gold?
Aaron: uh- no.
Moses: It is blasphemy. And for what purpose was this golden calf made, may I ask?
Aaron: Well… that’s a bit complicated… you see…
Moses: It’s not remotely complicated. They are worshiping that thing! (speaking toward off stage) Joshua, burn that calf… grind it into powder, scatter it across the drinking water and have them drink it out of existence… immediately…
Aaron: Moses, just hold on…
Moses: No, Aaron. You hold on. I would have been gone longer, except that God demanded I go back and deal with my out-of-control people. I am granted an in-person meeting with the most powerful entity there is and I end up getting my backside chewed out because my brother cannot manage to competently perform the one task I charged him with in my absence.
Aaron: I’m… I’m sorry.
Moses: How did this happen?
Aaron: I mean… the people were totally freakin’ out… they were scared… they didn’t know where you were and they felt like God had abandoned them. They were yelling and demanding me to make them a God who would go before them because they were sure you were never coming back. What was I supposed to do?
Moses: Did saying “no” occur to you as an option?
Aaron: It did, but I couldn’t control them… they all threw their gold into the fire and that calf just popped out.
Moses: Aaron, please don’t lie to me. You fashioned that calf. Whatsmore, you built an alter in front of it for the people to present burnt offerings.
Aaron: OK. Fine. Yes, I did. I said I was sorry. I know it was less than ideal.
Moses: Less than ideal?! Aaron, what you did is the equivalent of spitting in the Lords face.
Aaron: Says who?
Moses: Says him! Do you not understand how furious he was. He wanted to destroy everyone and I was left trying to talk the creator out of destroying his creations.
Aaron: Oh… Moses- I
Moses: You asked if he gave me anything to bring back. He did, indeed. He gave me his law. Every commandment detailing who he is and who we need to be if we wish to be with him.
Aaron: Wow. How many?
Moses: How many what?
Moses: Yes. More specifically, here is number one and two. 1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. 2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt not bow down to them or serve them.
Aaron: Oh my G-
Moses: 3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…
Aaron: G- osh
Moses: It’s called Idolatry, Aaron.
Aaron: I know what it’s called, Moses.
Moses: Well knowing what its called has clearly failed in giving you even the slightest indication of its severity. We just rescued these people from a land of rampant religious pluralism. The Egyptian’s worship of multiple Gods is so intense and alluring that even my father-in-law Jethro had trouble maintaining his faith in the one true God. We’ve finally gotten them free of this scourge and you assist them in constructing an idol launching them right back into what they’ve escaped.
Aaron: Okay, yes. Your point is valid. But what do you expect? They had no idea where you’d disappeared to and they could not sense his presence.
Moses: Do you really believe that faith works that way? The moment that you fail to feel awash in his love, you go and create another God for yourself? That’s a childish, shallow manner in which to understand the relationship we share with him. Those selfish, vile people had to exhibit a modicum of patience and failed to see anything miraculous for a time and suddenly the one who split The Red Sea in half, rescuing them from the most treacherous army the world has ever seen just gets cast to the side?
Aaron: I’m just saying that, in spite of the fact that what they did was wrong, you might be open-minded enough to see that they were operating from fear and reacted as many do when they sense they’ve been abandoned.
Moses: Yes. In this respect, you are right. I am not unable to see why they faltered. It is your actions by which I am completely flummoxed. You are a leader, Aaron. With leadership comes expectations and a higher standard to live up to. The authority you were so quick to take up demands that you have enough steadfastness to not fall away with the masses and, instead, to stand firm and lead your people to see the situation from your more level-headed vantage point.
Aaron: Yes. You’re right. I was scared, Moses. They were unruly and I feared they were on the verge of becoming violent. Is it not better that I should stay alive then demand they stay loyal and be killed?
Moses: We are called to his fulfill his purposes, brother. We are on a mission. All that matters is the mission. Our lives are nothing lest they be useful cogs in the mission. I would sooner see you die defending that mission than do what it is you’ve done.
(a lengthy silence)
Aaron: So, what, there’s no clemency for first time offenders?
Moses: Aaron, this is hardly your first offense.
Aaron: What are you talking about? You aware of some other golden calf I created before today?
Moses: You are missing the point, brother. Making anything, anything at all, in our earthly lives, more important than our love for him is idolatry. Anything that holds the place that he should hold in our lives qualifies as an idol. It does not need to be a golden calf. A person. An activity. A hobby. A passion. everything must be subservient to him within our moral compass.
Aaron: All right. I got it. So what else have I put in front of him?
Moses: Your obsession with power.
Aaron: What is that suppose to mean?!
Moses: You know precisely what it means. You and Miriam have been jockeying for my position since the beginning.
Aaron: Oh please.
Moses: Look me in the eyes and tell me that the two of you have not been grumbling to those who would listen and covertly laying the groundwork to gain support and eventually stage some sort of a coup.
(Aaron just stares with a conciliatory look on his face)
Moses: I’m not angry. In fact, and this may surprise you, I kind of understand. But that doesn’t make it less problematic.
Aaron: So jealousy is idolatry too?
Moses: No. Jealousy is jealousy. And also sinful. The idolatry is that your position amongst the people became more important than your love for the Lord. If you were putting your love for him and faith in him first, you would have accepted that he had his reasons for positioning me as he has and humbly accept your post. Your worship of other things has been a troubling pattern for some time; and while idolatry is idolatry, this golden calf is a particularly heinous example. And there needs to be recompense. (To the camp) “Listen up! Whoever is for the Lord, come to me! Very good. You have been set apart to the Lord today. You are blessed for standing against your own sons and brothers. This is what the Lord, the God of Israel commands: Each man strap a sword to his side. Kill all who did not approach at my call.”
Aaron: Moses… no! You can’t.
Moses: I can and I have. It is what he’s commanded and it shall be done. This is what I’m talking about, Aaron. Your human loyalties put before God… idolatry. Your relationships put before God… idolatry. (pause) Your brother put before God… (whispered) idolatry.
Aaron: No, Moses… please… don’t…
Moses: Settle down. I’m not going to kill you. But I am going to replace you… with Joshua.
Aaron: Joshua! You’ve got to be kidding me.
Moses: I’m not. He’s loyal and I trust that he can persevere in the face of trials.
Aaron: You don’t trust that I can do the same?
Moses: I don’t. Not entirely.
Aaron: This is a travesty of injustice. How dare you? After all I’ve done. Who served as your voice box when you were incapable of speaking for yourself to Pharaoh, Mr. Stutterer? Who threw down his staff only to see it miraculously transform into a snake? One mistake and I’m off the short list?
Moses: The short list? What do you think we are doing here, Aaron? Trying to gain entrance into a nightclub? You think this is some sort of popularity contest? And you try to insult me with this stuttering comment. You think I should feel bad about that? Do you not see that it is stark evidence of God’s stunning glory and magnificence that he took a man incapable of speaking publically and used him for the grandest of miracles? Forget my stuttering. I killed a man in a selfish rage. And still he sees fit to grant me a grand purpose. And you further fail to see that he used you in the same way. YOU spoke to Pharaoh? YOU transformed your staff into a serpent? You did nothing, my brother. That is the Lord’s work. YOU are the Lord’s work. I am the Lord’s work. Without his grace and his power, we’d both be anonymously shlepping sheep shearings for next to nothing awaiting a lonesome and meaningless death.
(After an lengthy silence, Aaron’s face falls into his hands as he gently weeps)
Aaron: You’re right. Oh, my brother, you’re right. What have I done? How could I have strayed so far? I’ve ruined everything.
Moses: No, Aaron, no. You’ve ruined nothing. This is the very point of his great omnipotence. Our feeble free will has the power to do nothing but alter our present sense of satisfaction. But in terms of the future; his grand design for the world, it’s powerless to intrude on where this is all headed. Your idolatry affects you and your present standing in his eyes. And, yes, it effects others as, unfortunately, more than three thousand were lost today. But even those are not your sole responsibility. Yes, you should have led with a firmer hand. But, in the end, they made their own choices and suffered the attendant consequences. But the Lord’s plan for the world will carry forth unimpeded. He will find a way to use this all for the good. Of this you can be assured.
Aaron: Can you ever forgive me… (pause)… can he?
Moses: He already has, dear brother. That is his very nature. As for me, yes sweet Aaron, you are absolutely forgiven. I have always loved you in the deepest way possible and that has not changed one iota.
Aaron: I vow to you, and to him, at this very moment, I will never again place anything above my relationship with the Lord.
Moses: (laughing) Oh Aaron, you will. You will and so will I. We are humans, brother, and radically imperfect as a result of the actions of our father Adam and mother Eve. Neither of us have seen our last mistake. Let us love and support and encourage each other, that we may be the best possible servants we can be and forever trust in his goodness that, in the end, despite our many failings, we will spend eternity in his glorious kingdom.