“They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf…” (Ex. 32:8)
God’s miraculous deliverance was short-lived in the minds of the Israelites. As Moses lingered in the presence of the LORD on Mt. Sinai, their impatience led them to idolatry [You can read to see what happens in Exodus 32:1-10].
When God delays too long according to our timetable, we often take matters into our own hands.
Even though the people had gotten out of Egypt, Egypt hadn’t gotten out of the people. They were so ingrained in a culture that worshiped many idols that they reverted to their former ways. Since they didn’t have an idol, they decided to make one. The situation must make you curious though. Where would a bunch of recent slaves get such a bounty of gold to craft such a statute? The account says they used their jewelry (Exod. 32:3-4), but where would these poor people get such lavish accessories?
These recently delivered poor ex-slaves had been given this jewelry. As God’s mighty hand humbled the Egyptians, the people gave away these pieces eagerly in order to get these Israelites on their way [Read Exod. 11:2-3 and 12:35-36]. What a travesty.
The people took a gift from God and used it as a replacement for God.
God had provided that gift. They were wealthy because of his deliverance and not their efforts, and they abandoned him. They actually took something good God had given them and worshiped it instead. Growing impatient with God’s timing, the people turned to worship the gift instead of the Giver.
What good gifts do you have that run the risk of replacing the Giver?
There are sinful things to beware, but there are also good things that you need to evaluate. Is there a good thing God has given you that you have turned into an idol? Have you replaced him for what he gave?
Don’t take a good thing and make it a “god” thing.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.