“Then I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf” (Ex. 32:24).

Not often does the preacher find it proper or helpful to quote a poet like Ogden Nash. Nevertheless, I find myself listening in memory to a couplet of his which, like so much that he writes, is accompanied by a mischievous twinkle of the eye:

Why did the Lord give us agility
If not to escape responsibility

That is one man’s biting satire on a gravely widespread tendency of our time—the tendency to run away from life’s demands instead of meeting them with willing shoulders.

The same thing has been said in chaste but challenging prose by Elton Trueblood in The Life We Prize. After reminding us that the heavy strain under which modern life must be lived is essentially the same for all of us but that the reactions to this strain differ sharply in different persons, he says: “It appears that the most common reaction is that of some form of escape, and especially the effort to escape responsibility.”

Although there is no comfort in it, there is perhaps instruction in the fact that this shabby way of treating life and the Lord of life is not altogether new. To this our text can testify—it goes back three thousand years.

Description Of Failure

Consider, then, the description of Aaron’s failure as we have it in biblical history.

Only three months earlier the people of Israel had left Egypt. God had drawn a curtain over the four dismal centuries they had spent there. Now they were encamped over against Mount Sinai on their way to the Promised Land. Already Moses had made one ascent into the solemn heights of the mountain, returning ...

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