I'm really surprised the people of God made a stupid decision ~said no one ever.
If people in the Church ever get tired of smacking their heads, we can at least take comfort in knowing that we come from a long line of people of God making dumb decisions. If Hebrews 11 gives us the members of the Faith Hall of Fame, the rest of scripture provides us with plenty of the opposite.
In Exodus 32, we find another instance of the Israelites performing an Almighty no-no. No big surprise, right? Maybe. This instance involved them getting impatient waiting for Moses to bring down the 10 commandments, so they made a gold cow to worship. That sounds about right. Why wait for God, who is busy saving you, when you can worship something else right now?
Meanwhile, up on the mountain top, God tells Moses that He is giving up on these people. This is the equivalent of when your parents have had it 'up to here' and the belt is coming off and the consequences are going to begin. (I may have some memories of this as a child.)
This is when Moses has to make a choice.
God has seen the rebellion of Aaron with the golden moo-moo. He gives Moses a choice to start over. God tells Moses to leave Him alone so He can destroy the people and start over with Moses.
Think about this. Moses was given the choice to lead a stubborn people through the desert or start over and make babies. That was the choice God gave him. If you consider the implications, those are two very different job descriptions. One will involve 40 years of walking around the desert, arguing with people who refuse to recognize the holy. The other will involve a wife and a gaggle of little ones.
What would you choose? What does Moses choose?
Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people! 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. ~Exodus 32:12b-13a
We are pretty hard on Moses, thinking about his anger and his disobedience during his lifetime, but at this most crucial moment, Moses chose for God to get the most glory and be faithful to the Abrahamic covenant.
Moses chose against his own comforts, his own desires, his own leisure, to ensure that God would receive glory. I hope I can always make the same choice.
Oh, and how stupid did Aaron think his brother Moses was? The gold cow just popped out of the fire? Really?!?