Idolatry by Any Other Name

My dad and I were sharing spiritual insights the other day over a cup of coffee at my favorite little bistro. We’ve both been reading through the Old Testament; thus our conversation landed on the golden calf Aaron made for the Israelites in the wilderness when they had given up waiting for Moses to come back down from the mount of God. It is easy to judge the Israelites on so many levels. They failed to patiently wait on God. They were faithless after He had proved Himself so faithful. They abandoned the God of creation for idols!

This is where the story gets a little personal. My dad pointed out that when the Israelite people asked Aaron, he fashioned the golden calf calling it “your gods who brought you out of Egypt.” After he saw how excited the Israelite people were at this, he built an alter, and announced a festival, “To the Lord” on the following day.  The word for “Lord” in that phrase, is the sacred name, “Jehovah” that was only used to speak of the one true God. I don’t think Aaron considered his actions idolatrous although they clearly were. Aaron felt as though he was giving the Israelites a way to worship God that would bring them fulfillment and satisfaction. He was appeasing the masses by offering them this alternative “worship” that would bring them pleasure. Aaron, like so many before him, and countless since, fell prey to Satan’s signature temptation: “Come to God on your terms. Worship God in a way that makes you feel good.” And the result was blatant disregard for God and His requirements. The result was total idolatry.

Suddenly my judgements are crashing down upon my own head. How often to I attempt my own “worship”? How often do I succumb to the same lie and come to God on my own terms? How often is my offering made to the Idol of my own desires and my own passions? Oh the desperate wickedness that resides in this human heart! I am the Isrealites–they are me.

But God will not share His glory with another. He will not leave me with the stale, self-absorbing “worship” that my flesh says is satisfying. He will not allow me to settle. For the God of truth knows that idolatry by any other name is still an affront to His holiness and a desecration of what He created me to be.

 


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