The Golden Calf
“On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your pain right now?” Many of you have been asked that question. How would you rate on the patience scale?
When Moses was not coming down from the mountain the Israelites wondered if he had died. They grew increasingly impatient, scoring a 10+ on the patience scale. They wanted their old familiar gods back to see and shape whatever image they desired. They needed something to worship. Aaron appeased them by stepping up and helping them mold the golden calf to worship.
Where have we been at times on the patience scale? We want things to happen on our time, not on God’s. We are not so different being tempted to shape God to our own liking, being convenient to obey or ignore. What false gods live in our lives preventing the true God to live in us?
Last Sunday’s powerful drama and Pastor Eric’s sermon drove this home to me. The devil tempts us into buying beauty, desiring to be like others, having money and possessions, obtaining success and so much more. Even if we do not create physical idols, we are tempted to make him into our image by our own expectations, desires, and circumstances.
When God sees what the children of Israel have created, he is very irate. He’s done with them and wants to destroy the whole lot. But Moses pleads for his mercy and reminds him of the covenant promise he has made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God, in His loving mercy, finally spares the Israelite nation. When we ask for his forgiveness he loves us so much that we are forgiven.
So what course of action should we take as proclaimed children of God? Perhaps making a list of what is most important to us will shed some light on the subject. Maybe we will discover the idol or idols that we should leave behind and ask God to forgive us. By identifying our shortcomings, we can better serve Him in ways that are pleasing to him.
Let us remember the words of Joshua in 24:15. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors serve beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
It’s so easy to criticize the Israelites for their impatience and lack of faith. But I try to make things happen, too, when I think you are slow to act. Forgive me for my impatience and lack of trust in you. Guide me to identify the idols that are impeding my trust in you. Amen.
Written by Janece Nelson
Exodus 32:1-14 New International Version (NIV)
“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”
Janece and husband, Mike, have been members of Sheridan for more than twelve years. Janece is a retired mathematics instructor teaching at the middle school and college level. They are blessed with two children and three grandchildren.
Janece finds her greatest joy in spending time with her family and friends. Her passion is writing devotions for patients in hospitals and rehabs she sees every Monday as a Sheridan hospital visitor. As a Teammate she also mentors girls at Boys Town. Janece credits Faith Builders and Companions in Christ for her spiritual growth.