I’m a big admirer of Moses. I love his friendship and intimacy with God. I love how honest he was with God and how he shared everything – his doubts, worries and fears. I love how he did all that God told him to in spite of those very fears.
There’s this one story in Exodus where Moses goes up to Mount Sinai to meet with God. He’s up on that mountaintop for forty days and forty nights. This is a pivotal meeting because it’s also where Moses receives the Ten Commandments.
While he’s up there, the people on the ground go crazy. They lose their minds. They demand that Aaron, Moses’ brother, make them something to worship. Aaron, who you think would be able to steer them in the right direction, does the exact opposite of what you’d expect: he gathers up their gold earrings and bracelets and melts them down. He moulds for the Israelites a golden calf to worship.
As you can imagine, Moses is quite angry when he comes down the mountaintop.
He’s so mad that he smashes those tablets of commandments into two. He calls out Aaron immediately and Aaron plays dumb, saying, “Yeah, I collected all the gold and threw it into the fire… and then a golden calf came out of it.”
I love reading this story. It makes me realize how very human I am.
I could look at these people in the Bible and say, “These guys are so dumb. Why can’t they sit still for 5 seconds? Why do they need to make something to worship?”
I could do that.
Instead, I often read the story and think, “That’s me!” That’s all of us. I think I am so above this story, but I am not actually… I fit right in.
We are wired to worship. It’s in our DNA.
We look for things and people to admire. It’s why we spend hours scrolling through the feeds of influencers, wanting to know what they are eating, wearing, dating and what’s happening in their day to day life.
Maybe we aren’t dancing around a fire and singing to a golden calf. But that golden calf is sneakily hiding behind a ton of other names, more socially acceptable names: Money. Power. Success. Status. Followers. Good jobs.
An idol is anyone or anything we place our worth and value into. An idol is anything we look at and say, “You give me security. You give me direction. You fill me up.”
It doesn’t really, though.
For a short time, we can be fooled that this thing will make us happy or seen or wanted or worthy.
But the golden calf eventually does what everything else does- it loses its lustre. It gets boring. It never fills the growing hole inside of us that wants to be perfectly seen and known.
The more hope and stock we place onto people and things, thinking they will save us, the more disappointed we will become. The more hope we will lose. The more tired we will grow. We all realize, at some point or another, that we can’t fix or save the world – there has to be something bigger to place our hope in. We write about God so much here because we believe everything else in the world fails to fill. We think it all disappoints.
We think God, even when we have felt disappointed with Him, is big enough to handle that pain.
He just wants us to keep our eyes fixed on Him and that’s so hard in a world that begs for our attention. Still, we try. We press in deeper. We resist the urge to make our own golden calf – something we can worship because we made it with our own two hands.
If you are struggling today with idols you’ve built or imagined, then we have a short prayer for you. The prayer is simple: God, help me place my trust in only you. God, fill me with a worth that isn’t worldly.