The Creation of an Idol

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share some of my really deep thoughts. Here is one:

I am studying Exodus this year in Bible Study Fellowship (bsfinternational.org). We are at the point where Moses has gone up on the mountain to get the 10 Commandments. He is gone for 40 days on a mountain smoldering with fire and lightning and earthquakes. The Israelites previously heard the physical voice of God and were shaken so badly they chose to let Moses go for them while they waited at the camp.

He is gone for 40 days: more than a month, almost 6 weeks. The Israelites didn’t know what to think. I know when my kids are gone longer than I think they should be my mind starts coming up with some pretty ludicrous ideas about what could have happened. Some of these ideas are funny, some are pretty dark. I think I would have given up hope just like the Israelites did.

Giving up hope is the first step in the Creation of an Idol. The thing we had set our mind to do doesn’t happen in the manner we expected and we loose hope in the dream we had rallied behind. We loose faith in people and in God when we loose hope. If a person has strength and perseverance enough, they can remember who God is and walk away at this point. If we think on God’s character and remember how in all the things written about Him, we know one thing for certain: God doesn’t change.

The Israelites were not known for strength or perseverance. And after that long month, they abandoned hope. They looked around for something to hope in. They looked back to their life in Egypt. The Egyptians had a god for everything.   In order to grow their hope up again, they wanted something they could see. Maybe even something less intimidating than the fiery, shaking-the-mountain God that seemed to have consumed their leader.

These people in the wilderness gave up things valuable to them to create this idol. Earrings. Golden trinkets taken from the Egyptians when they left captivity. Seemingly insignificant items. With a crowd of around 2 million people, I wonder how much gold all those earrings amassed to. They had their substitute leader, Aaron, craft a calf out of the gold.

Honestly, I think it is easier to hope in something you can see. It takes less work than when your hope is in something you must believe without seeing. Hopelessness grows lazy. So now the Israelites made small sacrifices and built a false hope. I do this too. I minimize my expectations and I begin to change where I put my hope. I no longer keep the ideal. I settle for something less hoping the success is more likely. I see the world around me settle for less than God’s best and it doesn’t look so bad from this hopeless state I have found myself in. I am tempted by mediocrity and my own selfish desire to eliminate pain.

The Israelites then sacrificed to the idol. This is big. They were willing to have faith in a powerless inanimate object. They gave up on the truth and worshiped a lie. I see many of these lies in the world around me. Lies like these: If I could get more money I could buy happiness. If I could have more education I could get more power. If I divorced my spouse I would divorce the problems I am having as well. If I steal money from a rich company no one gets hurt (unless I get caught).

God sees these things. He knows the idols we create. We can’t sneak it past Him. Even though sometimes we pretend He won’t find out. Truth is always revealed. Moses came down from the mountain and spoke truth to all Israel.

Then usually comes the blame. I think Aaron’s ability to dodge his responsibility in this matter is one of the funniest lines in the Bible. “Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” Yes, that is really written in the Bible. I didn’t do it, honest, it just popped out of the fire. As the mother-of-a-teenage-boy, I find myself repeating this mantra: “OWN IT”.

Once the truth was revealed and the blaming stopped, God asked those brave enough to walk away from this idol to join His team again. He is so good to do that for us. He gives us perspective to see what we missed when our hope left. Then we can see Him and the truth in His promise. Our hope is restored, which is a blessing in itself.

Where are you prone to loose hope? That is the likeliest place for idols to be built. What change do you see to bring hope? Is God at the center of it? Or is it a creation of your own imaginations?

So if you find yourself without hope today, pray for God to reveal the truth in your situation. God is waiting for you to remember that true hope is found only in His ability to keep His promises. Nothing else can restore you; nothing else can bring back your strength or your motivation to continue. All else is false hope in something created. True hope is in the Creator.

You can read this story for yourself in Exodus 32.

AJ

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