The golden calf. Those Israelites, they were really something, weren’t they? After all God had done and how He had shown up and shown HIMSELF to them, and they try to create their own god.
What was wrong with them?
The Lord had just written WITH HIS OWN HAND the commandments. The first commandment was to have no other gods and the second was to not create any images to bow down to and serve. They did both.
We read the account of the golden calf and point our finger at those Israelites. It is so easy to point out the speck in the Israelite’s eye and look right past the plank in our own.
Are there any “golden calves” in our lives today? How about in our churches? Sometimes we allow “things” to become more important than THE ONLY THING that matters: Jesus.
In Psalm 135, the psalmist gives us a description and guideline for rooting out idols in our lives:
Idols are useless. According to Merriam-Webster, one definition of idol is “a form or appearance visible, but without substance.” The list of the things that fit this description in our society is long. Many things look good, are pleasing to our senses, but not really good for us.
A greasy fast food cheeseburger may seem good to our taste buds, but it is not good for us. It is full of fat and calories and low in nutrients and vitamins, things that we need.
Spiritually speaking, anything that offers to fulfill our senses and not our hearts is a cheeseburger! Have you ever prayed in public and realized halfway through that you were talking to the people around you rather than to God? I have caught myself praying and worrying about how my words sound, how my voice sounds, how the people listening will think about what I pray or how I pray. That prayer was for the senses of myself and those around me, there was no substance. They were just words spoken.
But when we pray from our heart to our Father’s heart, when we sincerely speak to Him, this is like spinach, avocado or eggs, a super-food. It is delicious to our taste buds and good for our spiritual bodies, with vitamins and nutrients for life.
There are many spiritual “cheeseburgers” out there. They are in our churches, on our TV, in our homes and in our hearts. These are the golden calves of today; little things that we make into big things, things that take our focus off of THE THING: Jesus.
For some people, the golden calf is a person in their life, a relationship that they put before their relationship with God. For others it may be career, success, or money. Sometimes a feeling can be an idol to us, when we put our feelings before what God has called us to do. We let fear, hurt or anger keep us from attending and serving the body of Christ, the church.
For some churches, the golden calf is a building, or a budget, or simply “the way we have always done it.” It can be anything we let get in the way of the leading and the will of God.
Idols are useless, they destroy people. The psalm above says “those who make them become like them.” We create our own idols and they destroy us. We become eyes that are blind, ears that are deaf and lungs without breath. Idols destroy families, churches and nations.
In Exodus 32, after Moses comes down and finds the Israelite’s worshiping the golden calf, he grinds it up into a fine powder. He shows the insignificance of the thing. This object of their worship had been created and destroyed by human hands. Then Moses does something interesting. He scattered it in the water, so that the Israelite’s had to drink their idol. The water the Israelite’s were drinking from was the brook at Horeb. Over a million in population, the Israelites had been in the wilderness with no water source. God told Moses to strike a rock with his rod, and a stream of water flowed forth. Enough water for all of them and their animals. This idol they had created Moses ground up and scattered into the miracle-water that the True God had provided.
To destroy the idols in our lives and stop the destruction for future generations, we must take them down. We must grind them up and pour them out. We must realize the miracles of Creator God and offer Him all of our idols, all of our hearts. Nothing held back or held in. We must grind into dust the things we have put ahead of God and scatter them into the life-water He gives. By doing this, we overcome the power we have allowed our idols to hold.