In Exodus 32, the Israelites begin to become impatient while Moses is on Mount Sinai talking to God. Eventually, their impatience peaks and they say to Aaron, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” And so, Aaron complies. He allows them to make their “god”, but rest assured, YHWH will still be “worshipped” (Exodus 32:5).
The “god” they created must have been pretty impressive, for they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Excuse me? Say that again.
“These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
You have to be kidding me! These people witnessed the plagues! They witnessed the parting of the Red Sea! They were lead by cloud at day and by fire at night! They had seen the power of God first hand! You’re right to be shocked, amused, and even angry. How could they say this?
Stop. Back up. Take a stroll down memory lane. Do you remember when you were last on fire for God? Do you remember when you couldn’t imagine a life pursuing anything but Him? Do you remember experiencing His love and seeing His power? But somehow you lost focus. Something caught your eye. Before you knew it, you were declaring in your heart, “This is the god of my life! This is where my happiness is found!” And you turned your eyes from the Creator of all to the creation of men. As it’s put to the Church in Ephesus, “You have lost your first love”.
Only through the lessons of the past can we behold the deeply rooted idolatry of the present. A lot of pastors and teachers talk about how idolatry has changed forms. Well, yes and no. Yes, it’s true that we are no longer literally bowing down to golden calves, but we still seek fulfillment and joy in things of our own making. We seek happiness apart from God. That is the heart of idolatry.
“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”