The story of Exodus 32 seems illogical. The inscriptions on the tablets of stone had scarcely cooled from the finger of God writing instructions like “no other god” and “no graven images.” The people of God had recently affirmed their obedience to these instructions with the bold statement, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” (Ex. 24:7)
Even though the commandments and the commitment were both fresh, from the perspective of the Israelites, Moses sure seemed to be taking too long on the mountain. They asked Aaron to “make us gods who will go before us.” (v. 1) All too quickly, they had forgotten their promise to the faithful God. All too quickly, they had forgotten how He had brought them out of bondage in Egypt. All too quickly, the fact that God had protected them from Pharaoh’s army counted for nothing. All too quickly, they wanted to replace God’s visible leadership through a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. All too quickly, they succumbed to the temptation to be like the surrounding nations with graven gods. All too quickly, they worshiped a golden calf and partied like the holy God of heaven was of no significance.
Ouch! The consequences of those decisions were painful. People lost their lives.
Their story of idolatry invites us to examine our own approach to life. In moments when God’s presence may seem distant, do we quickly forget His past track record of faithfulness? When we don’t know where we are going or how we will get there, do we turn to other gods? When we are disappointed or hurting, do we seek the help of an idol to ease the pain rather than turning to the God who heals?
Before we seek to weed out some of the idolatry of our lives in the days ahead, can I ask that we reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past? If we pause to enumerate the countless ways in which He has evidenced Himself in our lives, we will see no need to turn to anything or anyone else. And, for many of us, if we also pause to reflect on the commitment to Him, we will rethink our efforts before we turn elsewhere.
This exercise of recounting God’s faithfulness and our commitment would be a good one for you to embark on now in prayer.