Exodus 32:2-6 (NIV) – Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
In the distant past, there was a buffet nearby called “The Golden Bull”, and, indeed, it had a giant golden bull statue on its roof. When we read Exodus 32, we are probably just as shocked by the appearance of the golden calf as the idol of choice for the Israelites. Yet, the worship of any idol – whether physical or of the heart – is equally out-of-place in the life of a child of God. One of the core themes of the Bible is the removal of idols from our lives.
“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give… A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would hardly be worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.” [Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods]
To build the golden calf, the Israelites “yanked out” the gold earrings they had taken from Egypt without second thought. Today, may we heed Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” Let’s set our hearts on the Lord alone as we worship to “O Come to the Altar“ performed by Elevation Worship.