Christ Church Downtown
“And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments'” (Exodus 20:1-6).
The first commandment forbids you from worshipping any false gods. The second commandment forbids worshipping the true God with idols, and also any false gods with idols.
We are given a helpful story in Exodus 32 of what NOT to do with Aaron and the Golden Calf. Moses has been up on Mount Sinai from chapter 20 until chapter 31 receiving the law from the LORD God. But Israel is growing restless and starts clamoring to Aaron for gods to lead them because “who knows what happened to this Moses guy?” And so Aaron gathers all the gold earrings and castes an image of a baby cow. Aaron proclaims, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” and he declares the next day as a feast to the LORD, to Yahweh (Ex. 32:4-6). Aaron attributes the power of deliverance to this freshly minted calf made from the gold which, until recently, had been nestled among ears and noses of the worshippers.
You got to ask, “How much stupider can you get, people of Israel? You’ve just witnessed the Lord lay the smack-down on all the gods of Egypt. Yahweh has delivered millions of people all at once from 400 years of slavery. You are daily provided with miracle water, miracle bread, miracle meat. And you want gods to deliver you and to go before you?” In the presence of all that God is and all that God has done, what kind of people would give their worship to a golden calf? The answer is…us kind of people.
It’s easy to see this Old Testament stupidity of God’s people and scoff at their dumb calf. But we are often just like them with our own golden calves. Some of you drove here in your golden calf, or slept last night inside your golden calf. Some of you work 40, 50, 60 hours on your golden calf. Some of you ate your non-GMO, organic golden calf. Some of you are sitting next to your golden calf, or wishing you were. Some of you are raising golden calves. We are extraordinary craftsmen of our golden calves.
But have you not heard? The LORD your God is a jealous God.