What is your gold calf?

I saw this cartoon, and it reminded me of how we replace God in our lives with just about anything. The idolatry of celebrity worship: Giving to man what rightly belongs to God.

The people of Israel had been freed from Egypt (Exodus 12). They had seen the power, grace, and love of God in the passover. They had been reminded that God would bring them into the land pronmised to their forefathers (Exodus 13). They had seen the power and love of God when God parted the Red Sea and dried the land so they could cross over and then killed their pursuers with the water which God had held back while the Israelites passed through (Exodus 14). They had seen the power and love of God when God provided sweet water for them to drink (Exodus 15:22-27). They had seen the power and love and patience and concern of God for them when He provided them quail and manna in the desert (Exodus 16). They had seen God provide water from a rock, and give them victory over their enemies (Exodus 17). God had provided them laws and a priesthood (Exodus 18-31). And yet, even with all that, they allowed themselves to forget God, to replace Him with something of their own making.

Exodus 32:1-6

1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

 2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

The people walked away from God, after He had provided everything for them. God had grown them, freed them, sustained them, trained them, protected them, loved them. Yet, what did the people do? They built something tangible and worshipped that instead.

What was God’s response?

Exodus 32:7-10

 7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

 9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

God was angered, to the point where He told Moses He was going to destroy them.

And Moses prayed for them and God relented.

Exodus 32:11-14

11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” 14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

God hated the idolatry so much He was going to kill the people He had grown, sustained, freed, fed, protected, trained. Time and effort are not as important to God as being faithful. God is faithful to us – He provides us everything. He even sent His Son to suffer and die for our sins, so that whoever believes could have eternal life (John 3:14-18).

Are you faithful to God? Do you put things or people in the place of God in your life? Do you turn to smoke or drugs or TV or work or a woman or a man instead of God? Does golf or football get the place of primacy in your life? What is YOUR golden calf?

I submit that we need to remove that from the place of more important in our lives and put God in His proper place in our lives. We need to change, and turn from sin to GOD through faith in Christ and love God. We need to call on God through faith in Christ, and show we have repentance and faith through our actions.


2 Responses

  1. Indeed idolatry is at the bottom of all our sinful ways and thought. But “metanoia” or repentance is always a transformation of the mind. Thus a daily work and grace. Note, Rom. 1:5, “the obedience of faith” (also 16: 26). See also the order of Eph. 2:8.9 & 10.

  2. Indeed, our faith must be evident in our actions. We must continue and persevere in faith to the end.

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