IDOLATROUS WORSHIP WORDS
TO OTHER gods
IS HATED BY THE LORD.
"They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgat God their Savior, which had done great things in Egypt; wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea. Therefore, He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses, His chosen stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He should destroy them."
Why were they not grateful for their deliverance? Why were they not marveling of the display of the glory of God upon the mountain? Still, we could ask such questions about the early church period, for Ananias and Sapphira were sinning in the midst of that revival. Today, in the midst of the last day revival, we find sin abundant in many churches. Many who say "Amen" on Sunday, are swearing at work on Monday. Some claim to worship the Lord on Sunday, but in the week, they serve prosperity, power, and fame. Their new car gets more attention than their Bible. Some worship pornography, and some worship the whiskey bottle.
None of us are exempt from failure, backsliding, or the desiring to go back to "Egypt". Aaron failed, and the children of Israel worshiped the golden calf. The visible calf was more appealing than the invisible God on the mountain with Moses. For the same reasoning, many will stand in line for hours, pay an exorbitant amount for a ticket, to hear a rock star, who is high on drugs, sings about sex and murder, makes obscene gestures, speaks with vulgarity, but need to be forced to attend a church service. They think us strange to want to hear a Bible study, worship with a congregation, or use the name of Jesus in worship rather than in vulgar cursing.
Idols have many faces, and the worship of them are sins that may fascinate. Saints of all ages need to beware of the temptation to sin even in the midst of revival. John warned us when he wrote:
I John 5:21
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
Aaron tried to excuse himself, but finally partook in the sins of the people. He saw himself as justified for his actions, and thought it was the other horrible people who forced him by intimidation to commit such sin. Many today try to excuse their sins by blaming others. They have a grudge, "but if you only knew why." They lost their temper, but "they were victims first." They gossiped, but the other person "needed to know."
While Moses was still on the mountain receiving the law and the plans for the tabernacle, the people fell into a terrible sin. They began to worship an idol. How surprising for a people who had just seen the waters of the Red Sea part for them, and drown all the Egyptian army. They had seen the manna fall daily from heaven. They had seen the cloud by day, and the fire by night lead them. Yet, they failed. They began to worship an idol, the golden calf.
Anything that takes the place of God in our lives is an idol. For some it is sports, work, money, vacation, family reunions, prestige, education. People tend to think that "the Lord delayeth His coming" (Matthew 24:48) and to live as though they had much time to repent later. They allow these things to have first place in their lives. They allow the cares of this life, the materialism of success, and the pressures of the peers and family of this world to distract them from the Lord.
Hard hearts, hearts not truly in love with the Lord, cause idolatrous worship of other false gods of life:
"Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted Me, and say My work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My ways; unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest."
The people had grown impatient waiting 40 days for Moses to return. They demonstrated how difficult it is for mankind to walk alone by faith. People want someone to lean upon, and fail to rest in the Lord.
"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him."
The people became impure. They gorged themselves, and lessened their restraint. The Bible says that they "rose up to play". The word "play" is from the word "tsachaq", which means "to laugh in merriment, to scorn, to sport, to mock, to play the whore." It is used of fornication. Paul refers to fornication in connection with worship in I Corinthians 10:6-8. There is much spiritual fornication in church congregations today. Israel sunk very low into sin, and needed an intercessor, or God would of necessity destroy them.
When true worship is corrupted by sin, men turn to tangible objects to counter their insecurity. Mankind are basically insecure. Mankind, when sinful, is afraid, due to his lack of God's presence. When mankind knows they are sinful, they tend to want to be in large groups, with strong leadership, to reinforce their egos, and to encourage them from the insecurity. If a large group is doing the evil, they can avoid the feeling of personal responsibility. They can blame another, the leader, or blame the group.
This spiritual suicide made God so angry that He announced to Moses that He would destroy the "stiff necked" (Exodus 32:9). They needed intercession, but deserved death. They needed grace and new hearts, but idolatry and sin demanded judgment.
When Moses personally viewed the sin in the camp, when he heard words honoring their false gods, he became angry. He rebuked Aaron, and did not tolerate their idolatrous worship. Moses did not take a vote to see how the people wanted to deal with the situation, but instead called for a choice, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
His anger was justifiable. This was truly "righteous indignation" for God is angry at idolatrous worship. Moses had learned of their sin from God, thus he was not judging, but passing on God's judgment. And Moses did more than get angry, he interceded.
When people choose to repent, consecrate, and become sanctified, from the idolatrous worship, they will find that God's glory will come and He will dwell in their midst, just as the tabernacle with the shekinah glory, the cloud by day and the fire by night was placed in the midst of the consecrated tribes of Israel.
For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys."
People often feel separated from a Lord Who is heaven, and that separation feeling allows the temptation to cling to things, and make them idols. We have the Holy Spirit that can fill that void, be our daily ‘paraclete’, the One Who walks near to us. We have no need of idols, we have an ever present God.
Our words should be praise to the Lord, not to things, not to false gods. Our words need to praise the Lord Who saved us from sin, Who is truly worthy of words of praise, words of honor, words of worship.