The Draw of Idolatry: Exodus 32
When we read about the fashioning of the golden calf in Exodus 32, we often scoff at the fickle Israelites. They had just been delivered out of Egypt by the hand of God and so quickly they turned to worshiping some handmade idol. Let me reframe this for you though so you can see the draw of idolatry; so we can learn how easy it is to fall into idolatry and guard ourselves from taking our eyes and devotion away from our God who saved us from bondage.
There are two things that can help us understand the Israelites’ decision to turn to this idol.
- It is what they knew beforehand. Worshiping false gods made by human hands is what they had lived in the midst of in Egypt. This was a return to what they knew.
- The calf was something they could see. Moses had gone up on the mountain and they panicked because they didn’t think he was coming back. They moved on from Moses who was gone and their God who they couldn’t see or touch to something they could easily grasp.
Most people don’t turn from the one true God to idolatry on purpose. The fact is that idolatry is something that sneaks into our lives or bursts in during a moment of crisis (like when the Israelites didn’t think Moses was coming back).
When we’re caught up in idolatry, we begin grasping onto something we can lay our hands and eyes on because it is easier than placing our faith and trust in a God we can’t see. We begin grasping onto the same things we see the world around us grasping ahold of (for them a calf, for us a bigger house, comfort, hobbies, etc.). We find purpose, comfort, hope, and assurance in things we can fashion with our own hands (bigger house, more money, more comfort, career, hobbies).
We grasp onto the things of the world. We find purpose, comfort, hope, and assurance in things we can hold in our own hands.
So let me ask you. Where does your purpose, comfort, hope, and assurance come from? The Maker of Heaven and Earth who delivered you from bondage to sin, or the things of this world we often grasp ahold of and build our lives around?