Question of the Week: Aaron's Sin?

By the Providence Lithograph Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By the Providence Lithograph Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On 6/10/2018, Paul M. asked the Mentionables this question:

"What did Aaron do to atone for his creation of the golden calf?"

Here are the answers from the team:

This is the answer from Mentionable Nick Peters. For the answer from Randy Hroziencik, please scroll down.

What does it take to atone for most any sin really? In the Old Testament, sometimes more was asked to make sure I think that we got the point. Sin is serious. In the covenant of Christ, we repent and ask for forgiveness. There's nothing mentioned explicitly that Aaron did, so we can only really speculate. The main question we have to ask is what are we going to do about our sins?


This is the answer from Network Member Randy Hroziencik

Paul McAndrew asks a very interesting question, one I have never before considered – this is one reason why I enjoy the Question of the Week.  The question is, “What did Aaron do to atone for his creation of the golden calf?”  Aaron's creation of the golden calf, to be worshiped in a manner that was common to the Egyptians, resulted in a severe judgment by God.  How could Aaron, chosen by God to be the High Priest, possibly have atoned for such a blatant insult against the Creator?

There are a few things to keep in mind.  First, Aaron was punished for this transgression against the one true God.  Although he was not immediately punished, Aaron and his entire generation would never enter the Promised Land.  That had to be incredibly difficult.  Nonetheless, he served God as the High Priest, so maybe it can be said that his faithful service to God after the creation of the golden calf – in spite of knowing that he would never enter the Promised Land – was his atonement.

Second, and maybe this is more of a theological side note, we should consider that even though Aaron’s creation of the golden calf was truly a foolish thing to do, God often chooses the foolish and weak things of this world to shame the wise and the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).  I believe there is an element of divine planning involved in this situation, although it is also every bit as true that Aaron chose to participate in this sinful rebellion as well.

Ultimately, Aaron’s repentance was his atonement.  When Moses asked, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side, come to me,” all the sons of Levi gathered around him (Exodus 32:26).  Aaron, a son of Levi, therefore repented, and he was forgiven by God.  Simply living with the memory of this transgression, just like the Apostle Paul lived with the memory of his persecution against the earliest Christians, all the while serving God faithfully, was his atonement for this sin.