God’s Rescue mission
The world after the Great Flood of Noah was still corrupted by the Fall. God had saved Noah and his family from the flood, but they were still sinful humans. The descendants of Noah multiplied and some of them worshipped idols in the most ungodly ways. Most people did not know the God who created the universe so they invented their own gods.
But God chose Abraham out of the people and told him that He would make him the father of a great nation. Abraham had a son named Isaac who had a son named Jacob. Jacob was later renamed Israel. Jacob had twelve sons. These sons are known as the twelve tribes of Israel.
God had a plan for his people. Part of that plan including living in Egypt for 400 years as slaves. When the time was right, God used plagues and mighty miracles to rescue them from Egypt. The next step would be to lead them into the Promised Land.
You would think that being freed from slavery would make them very grateful to God, right?
The Golden Calf
God chose Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. The people numbered close to a million people. Before God escorted the people of Israel out of Egypt, He told them (through Moses) to ask their neighbors to give them their silver and gold jewelry and clothing, which they did. This was God’s way of plundering the Egyptians and Israel was going to need this gold later when God gave them instructions for the tabernacle.
However, after God’s mighty deliverance in which He forced Pharaoh to let them leave, parted the Red Sea and then drowned the soldiers coming behind them and after He had given them the law and the covenant through Moses, the Israelites used this same gold to create a golden calf and worshiped it. They very literally turned God’s blessing into an idol. God was ready to destroy them for this great sin, but Moses pleaded for mercy and God relented.
God wants us to love him more than anyone or anything else, and if we forget that, we may be in danger of creating idols out of our talents, hobbies, careers, relationships, and even our religious experiences.
Unfortunately I’ve done my share of idol-making in my life. It’s not hard to cross that line of enjoying something to becoming emotionally dependent on it.
For example, when I got into running ultramarathons , training and racing began to take over my whole life and thoughts. Spending time with my running friends took up time that I would normally spend with my family. I even skipped a year of Bible Study because I didn’t want to give up Thursday morning training. When I got injured and couldn’t run, I felt like I’d lost my identity. It may seem like an exaggeration to call running an idol, but I had put it before everything.
So what have I learned about not turning blessings into idols? The key is this: stay alert to where your heart is. Are you spending time reading your Bible and going to church and praying? Are you distracted and anxious about holding on to your blessings? Are you trying to accumulate more things instead of enjoying the blessings God has already given you? Are you seeking joy and security and a ‘dopamine hit’ from worldly pleasures?
We humans are natural idol-makers. We put our faith in what we can see. That is why Israel failed in the desert even after promising to obey God’s commandments. They got nervous and impatient when Moses was out of sight after he went up on the mountain to talk to God and they demanded that Aaron give them a god to lead them. They also used their golden calf ‘god’ as an excuse to let loose and have a big party. They were a rebellious, pleasure-seeking, and stubborn people, like all humans can be.
But as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and we should know better than to worship idols. We have been rescued from death! And we are now beloved children of God. He gives us good gifts to enjoy, but we must not turn them into idols. Sometimes he takes them away. We can trust that He knows what is best for us. Always remember that everything we have comes from God, be thankful for it, and hold on loosely to things.
Just in case anyone thinks, “Well, I would never worship a statue and think it is a god,” they should look at Ezekiel 14:1-11. “Idols in their hearts” are just as much false gods as statues.
[…] was tempted to write a lengthy comment responding to this post, which resonated with me. My pursuits tend to be all consuming, just as she describes her passion […]