Uncertainty tests us like nothing else. It's at that moment we find out who we really are and what we care about.
When Aaron is faced with a group of people that are pushing him for leadership, he does something--something stupid. He, along with all of the people have just committed to God to do all He commands and the first command is that they will have no other gods. They haven't heard anything from God. They don't want to hear from Him. Moses has disappeared. They want to worship something so they can move on and a statue is a lot easier to control than a big, scary real God. Things go south from there. If you make your own god, you get to make up the rules for worshipping it, which means you do whatever you feel like doing--in this case it became a drunken orgy. The real God and Moses are not amused.
Moses doesn't do something first, he reminds God of who they are and who God is. His first concern is with God and the relationship that defines this people. After God agrees not to destroy them, Moses goes down to see for himself. His anger is at a people who chose activity over identity. They had been chosen as God's own, but rather than wait for God to act, they chose to act instead, picking a new god for themselves.
At that point, he asks the people to choose for themselves who they are going to be. The Levites are God's chosen tribe--the priesthood--and they choose God for themselves. The slaughter that follows seems cruel, but in the context of having a second chance to keep their own commitments and follow God, their betrayal of God is even more obvious.
Eventually, the people quit wearing their jewelery and put on old clothes to mourn their sin, but it appears more like the regret of getting caught than real repentence. They still don't understand who God has called them to be. In contrast, Moses begs God to shown him his Glory because who God is defines who Moses is. God walks past Moses declaring his name--a name that includes both forgiveness and justice. After seeing God, Moses ultimately appeals to God on the basis of their identity. The only thing that sets the Israelites apart is that God travels with them. His presence is their identity. This is truth, and God agrees, but He also reminds the people through Moses of the way that people with that identity will act. When Moses returns, he has been changed by his contact with God and carries something of God's own glory back to the people.
For years, God would stop me in the middle of my busy-ness and remind me that I had become a human doing again rather than a human being. Over-doing is often a sign we are trying to become something we really aren't. We will act out of our highest identity when we really understand that it doesn't come from what we do, but who has called us out to Himself. He doesn't need us to DO anything other than be His children. When we really get who we are, we will begin to act like it. We will do what we are called to do, but not to prove to God who we are. We will do it because we finally believe Him when He calls us His own.
What about you? Are you defined by what you do or who you are?