Cows are cool but not God

While we’re on the subject of Jeroboam, let’s talk about this golden calf situation.

So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” (1 Kings 12:28 ESV)

And let’s talk about how this isn’t a new story.

Rewind to when the people were actually brought out of Egypt, they were a little confused by why they were in a wilderness, and while Moses was up chatting with God, they got frustrated and as a result Aaron took the lead:

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!” (Exodus 32:4 ESV)

This is so crazy to me.

Not the idol making – I wish that was crazy to me but I sort of get it. We want to worship something we can see. We all want a god we can control.  And if the one true God doesn’t oblige, we reject Him and make our own god. We are all running around giving created things credit for the Creators work.Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.02.33 PM

But what’s crazy about this story is that the people are giving an idol credit for something they thought God did.  The Israelites sang songs about the great deliverance of God.  They KNEW that God was the one who had brought them out of Egypt.

But then they ascribed that deliverance to a couple of cow statues.

Here’s a terrifying thought: we might know that God is the one who delivered, we might even proclaim that God is the one who delivered, and still worship an idol.

If we want to find our golden calves, we must look – not at who we declare is deliverer – but who we turn to when we seek deliverance.

I pray for God to do something through me in ministry.  I ask for guidance and leadership on a program/lesson/plan, and then He does it. God shows up in wisdom and in power.  And I see lives changed.  And I acknowledge His work. I praise God.

Which feels like it should be the evidence that I worship God, but I have to keep watching if I want to see if I’m repeating the pattern of the Israelites. What happens next?  What happens after deliverance, when I find myself in the wilderness again?

Don’t look to what your lips say after God acts, look at who your hands trust to deliver you next time.

The next time I’m preparing a plan or dreaming up how I can see women changed, do I pray MORE – knowing that God is the one who did it?  Or do I feel less needy of God now that I am confident in the methodologies that ‘worked’ for me last time?  Who or what I turn to the next time I find myself in need reveals who I actually worship as the one with the power.

I see it happen all the time when some sort of amazing emotional or physical healing takes place.  We pray for healing, we see God do it and we praise Him.  And then we ask a couple of follow up questions: Now wait…which book did they read again?  What resource did they rely on?  What doctor did they see?  Of course, it was God who did it.  We all agree.

But then, when we need deliverance for our own relationships or health, do we turn to the God who we proclaimed delivered our friend?  Or do we throw a quick prayer heavenward but then devote our time and energy to a google search about the resource that God used in the previous transformation?

If we really believe God is the one who worked the miracle we witnessed, we will be able to tell by how we respond next time we are in need.  With each new trial we will lean less on the world and more on Him.  We will find ourselves praying more and planning less. We will find our anxiety lessening when we go to Him, instead of needing to turn to another plan or person to relieve the fear.

Watch where you run today. Let His past faithfulness cause you to cast your current cares at His feet.  And wait for Him, refusing to hedge your bets by turning to another god as a back up plan.

No need to bow to sculptures of cows when we have access to the living God.

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