Our Golden Calves

Exodus 32:7-14

“Your people are ruining everything!”

God doesn’t mince words as he sends Moses back down the mountain to set the rescued Israelites straight.

They had witnessed God doing amazing things in Egypt, so powerful that a hard-hearted and bull-headed Pharaoh had let them go.

They had been the recipients of miracle after miracle in the wilderness. From the parting of the Red Sea to manna from heaven and water bubbling out of rocks, they had been saved from destruction over and over again.

Yet, when Moses spent too long at the top of the mountain, communing with God, they became restless and frightened.

What would happen to them if Moses didn’t come back?

He was the one God spoke to and through. How would they find their way through this endless desert if they didn’t have their leader?

Afraid, panicked, and turning to their own devices to save themselves, they crafted a golden calf and fell to their knees before it.

They weren’t the first of God’s children to cast their own gods, nor would they be the last.

Even today, we are still bowing before gods of our own making, hoping to find salvation in the work of our own hands rather than turning ourselves over to Christ.

The Israelites had a golden calf. We have careers, politicians, money, public respect, social status, drugs, alcohol, material possessions, cars, gadgets, computers, policies, voting booths, and countless other ways of trying to make and control our gods.

Sometimes I feel as if I can almost hear God’s voice crying out from the heavens, “They’re ruining everything!”

Our salvation won’t come from the work of our own hands, but from the hands that had been nailed to a cross.

The gods we create in our lives are just as inefficient and useless as that golden calf so long ago. But if we insist on kneeling before those shiny and useless gods, we’ll be just as doomed as the Israelites were that day.

Fortunately, for the Israelites, Moses was there to beg God to reconsider. Yes, they deserved to be struck down, but wasn’t God a saving God?

And fortunately, for us, we have Jesus, crying out from a cross: “Forgive them. They don’t don’t know what fool thing they are doing.”

What are the golden calves this world bows before? What are the golden calves in your own life? How might we better worship God with our lives and with our actions? How might we turn away from false gods and return to God?

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