Exodus Devotional | Fall and Forgiveness, Day 2: Turning From Your Idols
The Book of Exodus
The Greatness of God to His People in Need
Fall and Forgiveness, Day 2
“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 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.” - (Exodus 32:1-6)
“The human heart is a perpetual idol factory.” About five hundred years ago, John Calvin succinctly diagnosed the Israelite’s problem. Here, in Exodus 32, they’ve done what every single human and every single human society has done: they worship the things God put in their hands, rather than the God who put it there.
It’s not just a sinful thing--it’s a silly thing, which, by the way, most sin is when you stop and really think about it. I don’t mean silly as in “goofy” or “comedic.” I mean it as foolish and irrational in a deeply shameful way. Think about it! They’re worshipping a statue of a baby cow made of gold. They love their gold, which was essentially worthless in the desert--who are they going to trade it with? They can’t eat their gold. It’s not good material for building dwellings or weapons. You know what’s more valuable than gold when you’re living in the desert? Free meat and bread that falls from the sky every morning so you don’t go hungry. But, all of a sudden, gold is super special to them. They make their statue and then fall on the faces to worship it. They kill precious livestock to it. And then, like an ancient version of MTV’s Spring Break, they get hammered and party.
They don’t need an idol. They don’t need another god. This one’s a baby cow that can’t even moo. Can it punish a pharaoh with plagues? Can it set you free from slavery? Can it split an ocean in two or defeat an army? No. It’s stupid. You’re stupid.
Sorry. You’re not stupid--we are. We all share the same, common, irrationally sinful DNA of the Israelites. We worship and put our trust in created things, rather than the Creator who gives them to us. We sacrifice and fight to protect and keep a hold of anything we think will promise us safety, security, influence, love...anything. We want to be happy, and we’re willing to pay any price. We’re willing to abandon God if it seems like his plans and his ways are working the way we want them to.
And it doesn’t make sense. Your 401k, the pleasures of sex with attractive people, the buzzy fake-freedom of alcohol, your braggable home, your jealousy-inducing cars/trucks, a big business (or a big church!)...none of them, along with no other created thing, will work as the key to God’s Kingdom. Only God alone.
1. The first step to solving a problem is knowing there is a problem and what its nature is. So, spend some time thinking over the following questions:
What am I willing to sin for in order to keep a hold of?
What am I willing to sacrifice and even hurt for in a way that I’m not willing to for God?
What am I willing to lie about--to keep hidden, in a tucked-away third place, so I can keep enjoying it?
What would I hate God for and leave him in faith if he ever threatened that thing or person?
2. I think we’d all be served today if we spent more time than usual confessing and naming our idols before the Lord and asking him to melt our calf of gold back down so we can get our eyes on him. Why don’t you do that today?