Thoughtful Thursday: Idle Idolatry

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize.

Scripture of the Day:

Exodus 32:4-6

“He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the LORD. 6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.”

Moses was missing in action. Gone too long on a mission by God, or so the Israelites felt. Forty days in the presence of God, thunder on the mountain, the God who parted the Red Sea – and the people asked for another god.

When the cat’s away the mice will play. Idle lives focused on their entertainment rather than on pleasing God was the stumbling block that began their campaign of idolatry. Coupled with impatience, the people of God ached to fill their emptiness with something greater. They did not want to have to wait. Their solution seemed religious enough – they were going to worship, after all. Sure, it was a “god” that was handmade by Aaron their leader from the jewelry they had worn just a few minutes earlier, but it gave them purpose and filled the empty spot in their souls that cried out to worship the living God.

What a sad account. Not just because God’s people accepted a counterfeit for their God who had just rescued them, but also because a man of God who was their leader – enabled them. Aaron was the one who would hold Moses’ hands up to lead Israel to victory. He was the very voice of Moses when Moses felt too fearful to speak. But when Moses was absent, Aaron quickly turned away from God and gave the people what they wanted – even though it would ultimately lead to many of their deaths.

In the times when it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize. The Israelites did not want to be disciplined and wait. They wanted to play. God saw what they were doing, anyway.

We are not unlike the Israelites. Busy, distracted, absorbed in modern technology, we have many options for idle time spend with modern idols. At the moment of our compromise, in His mercy, God shows us our sin so we will be freed from our idolatry and come back to Him. Even though idols can have a strong appeal, God’s grace is greater than our weakness and He longs to set us free.

Our response in the moment of our sin being exposed makes all the difference. Aaron said a calf “popped” out of the fire when his sin was revealed. Wow. Add a big fat lie on top of the grievous sin is not the way to forgiveness. When the scales fall off our eyes and we become aware of our sin, concealing our sins will not hide them from the eyes of God or heal our waywardness. God welcomes us to lay down our idols at His feet and to worship the only One of worth – Himself.

No substitute could ever replace you, God. Keep us from useless idols and keep our hearts near to You.

Denise Pass, Worship Leader/Songwriter/Artist/Author

 

Laying it Down

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By: Denise Pass © 6/30/14

1 Corinthians 10:4b-7

:4b “For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them and the Rock was Christ. 5 But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were cut down in the wilderness. 6 These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did. 7 So do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

Craving a warm chewy chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven is one of those weak spots for me. Especially when I am trying to diet. In fact, inevitably I am offered large amounts of chocolate when I decide to be more disciplined in my eating. One would wonder, why bother? While sugar might not be evil, (ok, I can hear some of you saying it is), the lack of control or focus on food can become unhealthy. But I digress . . . this blog was not supposed to be about food at all . . . see what I mean?

So what was evil about what God’s chosen people were craving? First, I am humbled that it is believers that were displeasing God. This passage is a reminder that God is a jealous God Who cares very much that our hearts are worshipping One. Certainly the Israelites were craving things that God commanded them not to, but the odd thing is that God gave them everything they ever could want or need, but they still wanted more.

At the root of their craving was a lack of trust that God was going to provide sufficiently for them. With so many miracles, we might be tempted to wonder how they could ever doubt . . . manna from Heaven? Parting the Red Sea? Really? After encountering such an awesome God, how could they doubt? But perhaps all around us are signs of similar provision, and yet we do not like to have to be so dependent upon and wait upon God.

Maybe we prefer to make idols, too, just like they did. Polite looking, sophisticated idols today that are an escape from the discomfort of having to wait on God. But that is where relationship is. What would our relationship be, if God just gave us things and we never knew what is was to be in want? He longs to show Himself faithful, to be the One Who knows what we need before we ask and lovingly gives what we need at just the right time.

If there is something inhibiting your complete trust in God, lay it down. Whatever is the “god” you have run to, it does not compare. The thought of displeasing the One Who made me hurts my heart. So let’s lay down whatever we are craving and ask Him if it is worthy of our desire.

Almighty God, thank you for revealing our sins that we might confess them to You and be set free from the bondage of trusting in things other than You. Please help us to lay down the things of this world and only pick up what you want us to.