A Life in Balance #6 (Golden Calves)

Our schedules can become our gods.  The good gifts God gives us can become the things our hearts and minds confide in.  The people in our lives can become the person we look to for our all-right-ness.  Our ability to do things can become where we find our righteousness.  The list of what can become our gods goes on and on and many of our gods probably correlate to things on our to do list.

The people we read about in the Old Testament are not strangers to creating gods.  A striking example of God fighting to be in people’s lives and them rejecting it is when God is giving Moses the 10 commandments and what His people do directly after they hear from God. 

God appears to Moses from a burning bush after he hears his people cry out to Him because of their slavery in Egypt.  In the conversation God lets Moses know what is about to happen.  He assures Moses that everything about to happen will be because of the work God himself will do and not because of who Moses is or what Moses does. 

This will be a reoccurring reminder. Throughout their exit from slavery and wandering God reassures his people that it has much more to do with HIM and what he is going to do FOR THEM instead of what they are doing. 

Once God had Moses’s attention via a bush that as on fire but not burning He declares himself God and let’s Moses know what is about to happen.

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  And Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses has some reservations and is pretty apprehensive because he believes all of these plans are dependent on him and his abilities.  Moses eventually does go to Pharaoh but it does NOT go well.  Pharaoh increases the work of the slaves and the Israelite’s are not happy campers.

Moses is also a little distraught because all of these people are not happy with him.  This is what God tells Moses.

As you are reading this listen to how many times God says I and then gives a verb indicating what he has done or will do. 

(If you like to take notes you could even make a list)

“God spoke to Moses and said to him “I am the Lord.  I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God almighty, but my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them.  I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners.  Moreover I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.  Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.  I will take you to be my people and I will be your God and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  I will bring you into the land that I swore to give Abraham to Isaac, and to Jacob.  I will give it to you for a possession.  I am the Lord.” Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”

There are a lot of verbs.  There are a lot of things God has done, is doing, and will do.  God was working for these people but things were still rough and harsh.

The plan is not going as smoothly as they anticipated, and they are no longer listening to Moses.  They do not want to hear or cannot hear anything that God is telling them he will do.

Have you ever experienced something like this? When life is harsh and you can no longer listen to God or his promises, or what he has done for you. If you have or if you are know that he is still at work for you and you are still fiercely loved.

What is God’s response to their inability to hear and to their broken spirits?  He continues on with his plan.  These people will see that He is their God and they are His people.  It is not dependent on the people but it is the fierce love God has for His people that keeps the plan in motion.  It is the same for us. 

God has a fierce love for us and is at work in our lives and FOR US.

Since it’s not dependent on the mindset of the people and is dependent on the fierce love of God the plan progresses.  God sends the plagues he told Moses about and takes them away.  Just as God said, Pharaoh does not want to release these people.

Eventually, just as God has promised, the people are released.  However soon after they are released Pharaoh is in hot pursuit of them.  It looks like all hope is lost when God’s people find themselves between a huge army chasing them and the Red Sea.  It looks like the only choice they have is to drown in the Red Sea or be killed by the Egyptians.

Moses encourages them NOT through a self esteem booster but by speaking of who their God is and what HE will do FOR THEM TODAY.

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation for the Lord, which he will work for you today.  For the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again.  The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.”  Exodus 14:13-14

God will fight for you.  God will work out your salvation.  He is the one at work through you.  All you need to do is to be still.  The same God who saved these people is the God who is working for us today. 

Eventually this group of people arrives at Mt. Sinai.  This is where God declares himself to be their God, gives them the 10 commandments, and a few more regulations on daily living.

The next scene or account you could call it illustrates how human nature works and our inability to keep life in balance and to keep God as our God.

The first thing God said to His people at Mt. Sinai is this:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…”

He declares himself to be God over these people.  Moses goes further up the Mountain and receives regulations about alters, livestock, sojourners, plans for the ark of the covenant, along with instructions for the priests.

While Moses is receiving this guidance God’s people get impatient.

“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him.  Up, make us gods who shall go before us.  As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

The Israelite’s response to God declaring , once again, they are His people and He is their God, is to create another god. 

The leaders sidekick, Aaron, does not try to dissuade them from doing this.  Instead he has them gather all the gold God provided for them when they left Egypt and melts it down and turns it into a golden calf.

Then Aaron declares

“These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

Aaron then goes and builds an alter and declares the next day to be a feast to this god…

When we see their actions on a page in black and white we can see the foolishness of their mistrust.   It is so easy to see how foolish it would be for them to rely on a golden calf they created instead of the God who saved them from slavery and whose voice they just heard.

It may seem so obviously avoidable when we read about it BUT we do the exact same thing. We know he is the place our righteousness comes from we can read the account of his life, death, and resurrection. We know he is the place our hearts and minds should confide in yet we run to so many different things. 

We do the exact same thing and God reacts the same to us.  He keeps pursuing us.    He is always fighting to be God in our lives even when we create golden calves and attribute his good gifts to those calves.  He fights to be the God in our lives when we seek our righteousness in how we parent or when we look for answers on google instead of from Him.

It is impossible for us to keep Him as our God that is why he did it for us.  He was willing to go as far as death to be our God.  If you think you are alone in your struggle to keep life in balance and keeping God as God you are not.  I struggle with the same thing.  These people we are learning about struggled with the same thing.  Most importantly God continues to place himself in their lives and he continues to place himself in our lives to.

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will Ephesians 1:4-5

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