1 Corinthians 10:7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play."
Exodus 32:4-6 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool 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 before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD." And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
The Apostle Paul continues his warning to the Corinthians against idolatry by referring to Israel's celebration/worship of the golden calf. Aaron's proclamation, "These are your gods (plural) O Israel" could be one of the earliest declarations mixing the worship of the true and living God, YHVH, with idols. This is called "syncretism". Dictionary.com defines it: " the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion."
The Israelites were not abandoning the God who delivered them from Egypt, not at all! They were simply adding one to Him; a representation that they could see, touch, adore, and celebrate over. Wasn't the Apis Bull worshiped back in Egypt? So let's put YHVH and this calf together! Thus the One True God became part of a "pantheon". This mixing of gods opened the door to a rampant and fleshly orgy.
And where was this Moses, anyway? It seems that they had become so focused on Moses, and dependent upon him, they lost sight of his Source. Of course, Moses had led them out of slavery and through the Red Sea. Yet, somehow, they did fail to realize that it wasn't Moses' power that accomplished their deliverance, at all, but the power of his God. With Moses gone, seemingly indefinitely, the people demanded a replacement from his brother Aaron. Aaron did not have the conviction or character of Moses and did not take up his mantle of authority, but according to the Midrash, “Aaron, fearing they would take away his life if he opposed them,” built them an altar.
A leader may be wonderful in character, greatly gifted, and full of good fruit; so much so, that we may begin to depend on him in a way which is dangerous and fail to recognize the source of his authority and blessing. In his absence, we may even discover our dependence can lead to a form of "syncretism" or idolatry. Israel's experience illustrates how dangerous this can be. They lost their connection with God and entered the awful arena of false worship. When a believer falters because a leader is absent or even has fallen, then he has misplaced his trust and is in danger of idolatry. Then too, if a leader succumbs to the pressure of a desperate flock, as Aaron did, he will participate in and even lead them in their idolatry.
The enemy is subtle, and he understands our need for leadership maybe better than we do. One of the tests of a faithful believer will involve his/her respect for godly leaders without becoming overly dependent upon them. Our primary Source and focus of worship will be the Lord, so let's be sure our faith is fixed on the One who will never disappoint us. Leaders come and go, as all men, God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He will never leave nor forsake us.