Friday, February 03, 2017


Exodus 32.24b-25a NIV

“Aaron answered,... ‘Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control…”

Aaron failed as a leader. He was embarrassed when Moses caught the people worshiping a golden calf. He made excuses and blamed those he was supposed to be leading. Aaron could have kept his charge from running wild. Moses would have. Moses would have persuaded the people behave. Instead, Aaron “let them get out of control…” Aaron was responsible for the behavior of his followers. He failed as a leader. Aaron was swayed by public opinion. When Moses’ return was delayed, the people cried, “Make us gods.” Aaron considered his options and made a decision... a bad one. His later ‘spin’ on the event was ridiculous: “Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, out came this calf.” No calf magically appeared from the blaze; rather, Aaron handcrafted the idol.

“He [Aaron] took what they handed him [the gold Aaron requested]
and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool.”
Exodus 32.4 NIV

Aaron did not trust his own instincts. He over-thought the situation and carefully made the wrong decision. By contrast, Moses’ snap decision was the right one:

“And [Moses] took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he
ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.”
Exodus 32.20 NIV

It took about two seconds for Moses to size up the situation and take action.

In his bestseller Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,[1] Malcolm Gladwell explores the power of the trained mind to make split second decisions. This phenomenon, which the author calls “thin slicing,” can produce decisions as good as – or even better than – carefully planned and considered ones. This is especially true when the decision-maker is well prepared and uncorrupted by prejudices or stereotyping and not overloaded with too much information. You might say ‘less is more’ for the effective leader. In Gladwell’s own words:

“It’s a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.”[2]

Moses did not have to think about the right response to golden calf worship. He knew what was right, and he knew to do. We need more leaders like Moses.

[1] Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell, Black Bay Books, 2005. 

[2] From Malcolm Gladwell’s website:


One Sided said...

"Blink" MY buddy Charles and I read that last year as a selected reading assignment. We did the read a chapter and talk about it thing. Well okay we e-mailed each other.
It is interesting the idea of leaning on or not leaning on learned or practiced instinct.
Moses , Knew because of the practice he had. How many of us make the wrong choice without thinking because that is the practice we have?

Dave's Bible Blog said...

You're right about that. A decision is not correct simply because its quick. Moses destroyed the calf after spending time with God on the mountain. His senses were practiced and he knew what to do.

I cannot presume God will honor my snap decisions if I am unfamiliar with His ways by lack of regular devotional practice.

Thanks One Sided.