Well, when God is seen, he’s not much more believable than his unseen version. Seriously. It seems like God’s usual invisibility would be a hindrance to possible believers, but it just isn’t so. “If I could just see God, then I would believe.” Well, folks, people who saw God had a hard enough time as it was. Another time we can discuss how the visible Christ was doubted and crucified, but for now look at Exodus 24 and 32.
In Exodus 24, Moses and some elders ascend Sinai and actually see God.
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. (24:9-10a)
Pretty straightforward. Then God wants just Moses to come up further, without the rest of the leaders. So Moses splains it to them…
And [Moses] said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them. (24:14)
In other words, Moses says, “I’m going to hang out with God, but I’ll be back, and while I’m gone, if you or the Israelite peeps have issues, find Aaron and Hur. See ya!”
Well. Turn in your bibles to Exodus 32, where the people indeed have an issue. Moses was taking longer than they expected, and so, for that matter, was God. No patience for God. So, they remember what Moses said, and they went to Aaron.
The people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. 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.” (32:1)
Woah. All kinds of disbelief in God. So, Aaron, who has seen this God they disbelieve, rescues the day.
So Aaron said to them, “Hearken unto the folly that you speak! Wait upon your God, moreover, have patience. Whosoevertherefore speaks against the name of Yahweh shall be accursed.”
Just kidding. Aaron didn’t save the day at all. He more than ruined it.
So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in [your] ears … and bring them to me.” … And he … fashioned it … and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar … and made proclamation said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to Yahweh.” (32:2, 4-5)
Having seen Yahweh, this is what Aaron says. Having been in the presence of God, he settles a dispute by equating Yahweh-worship with calf-worship. How horrid.
We have not seen God. But He indwells us. And yet we still think that we honor him with our putrid, puny calves.