This story seems unimaginable – after all that God has done for the Israelites, how could they decide to forsake Him and start worshiping a made up god, one they created with their own hands? Hadn’t God proven Himself enough to them? Hadn’t He done miraculous things, including feeding them with manna that just appeared every morning? How could they do this?
It’s easy for me to read this story with self-righteous indignation for what God’s people did. I mean, I would never do that, right? Then in the midst of shaking my head, a gentle voice whispers, “Sometimes you get tired of waiting for Me too and decide to take matters into your own hands.” “But not like this!” I protest. “I would never make a god and worship it instead of You!” But my own heart convicts me even as the words fall off my lips.
The worship of created images was nothing new to the Israelites. They had lived in Egypt for many years where worship of all sorts of things was practiced. This was what they had witnessed from surrounding countries as well. The idea of One God who had authority over all was unique to the people of Israel and when it seemed like Moses was taking too long and was possibly even dead for all they knew, they reverted to what they had experienced previously. They went back to Egypt in a sense.
As we saw last week in the Ten Commandments, God is to be our only God and our relationship with Him should come above all else. When we lose sight of that, our tendency is to build our own idols and give them the time, attention and allegiance that were meant for Him alone. The gods that we build like money, prestige, power, workaholism, relationships – even our own children, can never satisfy and meet our needs like our God can. And the consequences are serious.
No, I’ve never melted down my jewelry and made a statue out of it, but my heart has been guilty of the same offense as the Israelites: replacing God with something, anything else. My heart is prone to wander and I have to be vigilant to make sure that that doesn’t happen. And I have to pray that God gives me the perspective and peace to stand firm even when it seems like He’s not listening or responding as quickly as I want Him to.
The story of the Golden Calf is just as relevant to us today as it was when it originally happened. Do a heart check today. Is something or someone other than God sitting on the throne of your heart?
New Hope Church