Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Golden Calves

A waiting period could be a pleasant experience of restful and blessed assurance or it could be a stressful one filled with doubts and impatience ; depending on the value which one has placed on the expected  persons ,  promises , benefits or the desired thing which one is waiting for .
Any excellent  and desirable person or thing is worth waiting for .
A person who has proved that his word ( promise ) is his honour which he would keep to the letter ; is worth depending on and worth waiting for .

The people of Israel were camped at the foot of Mount Sinai as they awaited  the return of Moses who had gone up the mountain summoned by God to receive further instructions about how Israel should proceed on their journey.
Obeying divine instructions had been the condition for sustaining Israel's continual walk with God and for actualising His promises to them , being a peculiar people ,God's own nation which was distinct among all the other races  .
Before leaving them to go up to the Mount , Moses had told the people why he was embarking on that trip and they agreed to do all what God told Moses. Exodus 24:3.
Moses had gone up the mount with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy other elders of Israel. At a point on the mount, Moses only was permitted to proceed near to God ; but Aaron and the others were instructed to worship God from afar off. Exodus 24:1,2.
Even at that distant point up there on Mount Sinai, these leaders enjoyed the unusual privilege of seeing God and t
hey had a glorious time in God's presence.

 Then in that steam, they returned to the base camp .
" And they saw the God of Israel.... And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink".
Exodus 24: 9-11 .
When expected promises take too long to materialise and the long wait for answers to prayers seems endless and in vain then doubts and impatience would fill the vacuum.
Impatience births doubt , frustration and desperation which lead to error and sin.
Israel had waited for Moses' return for forty days and nights with no sighting of him and no messages from God. 
Then the multitude became impatient and fearful for their future 
In their state of ingratitude , they forgot all their past victories and the glorious miracles which God had wrought for them all the way from Egypt.

The turn of events whereby Israel , led by Aaron and their other leaders actually decided to help themselves by making a golden calf which they bowed down before in worship, as they danced, sang and played; is amazing by all accounts!

" When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
2. So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 
3So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.
4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden[ calf. 

And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.”
6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play ". 
Exodus 32:1-6. 
The reaction of anyone reading this narration of Israel's blunder would be;
 "How on earth could Israel do THAT ?"
Were these idolaters the same Israelites and their leaders , the chosen people of God , who all had witnessed the awesome miracles wrought by God's power right from the moment when Moses first stood before Pharaoh to utter the audacious demand , "Let my people go and worship me in the wilderness!" ?; then they saw the spectacular displays of unusual miracles at the Red Sea and as they went on their God ordained journey to the Promised land?
After all said and done for Israel by God , how could these people commit the monstrous atrocities of gathering  their precious ornaments to make a golden calf and then actually bow down before it !?

This great blunder was a collective agreement by the leaders and the led.
 Aaron and the other leaders were in charge of the people during Moses' absence.
The same leaders who saw God on the Mount failed in their duties as mentors to the restless Israelites when the people became ungrateful , impatient and filled with doubts to the extent of demanding for Aaron to make a golden-calf god.
The Bible did not say whether Aaron used all or whether he used a fraction of the people's gold which he collected to make the golden calf or whether he diverted a large chunk of the gold for himself and his family.

People should be amazed indeed at the ingratitude of the Israelites .

 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a goldencalf. 
And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” Exodus 32 :4 .
But would most human beings have done and said differently from what the Israelites said and did against the Almighty God if they were in the same desperate situation of a lengthy wait without hearing from Moses and from God? 
If expected promises take too long to materialise and the long wait for helpers seem endless and in vain, then impatience and doubts would start brewing in human minds .
What would you do and what have you done when you have waited for a very long period and the answers to your fervent prayers have not manifested ?
Would you resort to "helping God" and helping yourselves in order to birth your long awaited miracles ?
How many of your "precious gold ornaments" have you given up as offerings to all sorts of priests and religious leaders to aid them to make golden calves for you to worship as other gods , just to receive your miracles?
The words "idol" and "graven images " conjure the pictures of graven , carved or sculptured images of demonic deities in the resemblances of animals , humans, birds , mermaids and reptiles and so on.
Most people , especially real Christians , would recoil from bowing to such graven images of demons.
May be you have vowed that you would never bow down to any graven images and indeed you have not done that ,you have kept to your vow so far.
But consider this : idols and graven images are of different sorts.
Graven images or idols are not physical images only.
Golden calves are whatsoever turn people's focus from God's word and from the finished work of God's salvation and deliverance by grace through Christ  Jesus.
Idols turn people's focus to self- help , to other gods and to arms of flesh.  
The list of "golden calves" erected and worshipped  by different people is as lengthy as it diverse. 
It is different strokes for different folks.

"Golden calves" could be those LEGITIMATE needs , wants, fervent desires, human ambitions, dreams and aspirations or they could be religious  doctrines or worldly systems which people hold dear.
There is no law against achieving legitimate dreams and aspirations. 
How far one is willing to go in order to get possess one's desires and those "must have"dreams and achievements would confirm the depth of idolatry.
Your own golden calves to which you would readily bow down in fervent worship could be your dreams and aspirations ; they could be those person(s) , places or things, habits , vices and that status which you have idolised so much that for these idols , you are ready to do and say anything it takes to impress and please them, to possess them, to indulge in them and to be seen that you have "arrived " at that place or level.
At that desperate point when there is the  realisation that a person is heading towards idolatry or have actually resorted to idolatry to get what is desired, then it is time for a re-think and a re-tracing of steps , back to God.

You have seen God in action and you know that God's blessings and miracles abound in your life; but now you desire more and greater miracles .

When you have prayed with faith and with earnest expectation and you have waited for long for your desired answers but your wait seems all to no avail? 
What next ? Are you tired, discouraged and forgetful of God's deliverance? 
“The harvest is past,The summer is ended,
And we are not saved ! " Jeremiah 8 : 22.
Complaining and doubts lead to  seeking other gods.
God says:"Is there no more help in my name and no power in my blood?" 
"Do I not save to the utmost ? "
" Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there?

Why then is there no recovery ? For the health of the daughter of my people ?" Jeremiah 8 :22.
Patience and perseverance are the keys which expose well-guarded secrets .
The well-guarded secrets of the enemy of our souls is that Satan has nothing good to offer ; what he presents as the perfect solutions are not even nearly as good as the alternatives to what we would receive  from God by waiting on Him. 

The source of our Hope as we wait is the Word of God . 
This hope in the Word sustains our patience ; it is our strength in the times of despair .
Our God sees us , He knows , He listens to our cries for help and He cares about us.

" Listen! The voice,The cry of the daughter of my people
From a far country:
“Is not the Lord in Zion?
Is not her King in her? 
Why have they provoked Me to anger

With their carved images—With foreign idols?”. Jeremiah 8:19.

Ingratitude leads to impatience and doubts which displeases God and invokes God's wrath causing diverse problems in human lives. 
God is ever present , always at hand with His answers for us.
May we persevere in faith and never lose out completely at the gates of our breakthroughs! 
If only while we would wait on the Lord and we could be patient and persevere till the end .
If we could see the immediate future, what glorious scenes we would behold! 
Scenes of blessings which add no sorrows and scenes of glory , peace and everlasting joy; prepared for us by our loving Father .
" Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments ! Then your peace would have been like a river, and " your righteousness like the waves of the sea " ; Isaiah 48:18.
Israel lost out because they provoked God and incurred God's curses , just before Moses returned with good news for them from God after his encounter with God on the Mount .
Receive grace for strength to stand firm till the end . Amen !
Always, we pray O Lord that our response to all temptations which call for building and worshipping golden calves  must be the same as these words of determination spoken by the Prophet Habakkuk  during the dark days of despair.
The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills ". Habakkuk 3 : 19.

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