Snapshots: Day 81
The Snapshot: “make us gods who will go before us.” (Ex 32:1) These words open what must be one of the most bizarre moments of Old Testament history. Israel have encountered God on Mount Sinai (74 of them had shared a vision of him – Ex 24:9,10 even. They have received the Law and committed themselves to be ‘God’s People’ and then Moses goes off again and within a few weeks they turn on Aaron and ask for gods that they can see. Incredible! Terrible! Stupid! Yet they simply exhibited what mankind exhibits again and again – I want to see my God and if I can’t, let’s make other gods. The world does it all the time but it is pure deception, sham, pretense, make-believe. Remember we are called to live by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)
Further Consideration: Avoiding idolatry became almost the biggest issue that Moses kept warning Israel about on the Plains of Moab before they entered the Promised Land, that are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. Despite that, as you read your way through the Old Testament, following the centuries of the life of Israel, the reality is that again and again and again and again, Israel have idols that they go and worship on hillsides or in wooded groves.
When the nation split after Solomon, it became the curse of the northern kingdom, Israel, as their first foolish king erected idols to be worshiped at the southern and northern boundaries so his people would not be tempted to join Judah and worship at the temple in Jerusalem. What made it worse was that no subsequent king of the northern kingdom removed them!
We think idolatry sounds so distant in history but that doesn’t stop millions of people around the world today having their own little idols at home, and from and going and worshiping the massive idols at their temples. We like to see the object of our worship.
But this has very practical spin-offs in modern church life because I know every time I speak or write about the presence of the Holy Spirit, inspiring and guiding us as the people of God, my words are bouncing off the ears of millions of modern day Christians who feel very insecure if we talk about the Spirit leading. How much more comfortable it is to have a neat program laid out of what will happen in the next hour or so. We like to be able to see it, know what is there, what is coming. The thought of not being able to ‘see’ God is scary when it comes to our corporate gatherings. It’s the same thing as that which is behind the desire to have an idol we can see.
It was for this reason the apostle Paul wrote, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7) Our biggest issue is that we cannot ‘see’ God – and we have to learn to be comfortable with that!