The children of Israel languished in impatience and unbelief at the base of Mount Sinai, waiting for Moses, who seemingly would not return. Impatience grew into murmuring, murmuring into loud complaining. They had never seen God with their eyes; and now His anointed, “this Moses, . .we wot [know] not what is become of him.” He too, it appeared, had vanished, never to return. “Up,” they enjoined Aaron, “make us gods.” The natural yearning of their hearts demanded visible forms for religious expression and someone or something to lead them now that they believed Moses was gone. But there is a price to be paid; the pure must be forfeited to produce the crass. They must part with their gold and bring it to Aaron; he took it, “and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods (Elohim), O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” The children of Israel looked upon this idol and called it “Elohim …which brought thee up out of Egypt.” Aaron ratified this designation, for with the image as centerpiece, tomorrow would be a feast to Jehovah. But what did God see? The answer is given in Scripture, “They made a calf in Horeb and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass; they forgat God their Savior, which had done great things in Egypt.”
The Apostle Paul tells us that idolatry is changing, “the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and to fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. What was their glory, and is the Church’s glory, is in truth the glory of God Himself; and it cannot, and must not, be represented by an image of a man or a beast. God, knowing the evil inclinations of men, and their struggle to justify their ungodly deeds, especially those done in the name of religion has declared, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Whatever theologians may debate concerning this verse, one thing is clear, if you give a physical representation to Christ’s face, then you have defined and defiled the glory of God. Whether a “man” or an “ox that eateth grass,” any attempt to replicate that glory, save that which God does Himself, is idolatry.
The Practice of Idolatry Within the Church