A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, October 12, 2020
Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain, carrying the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, written on the front and on the back. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved upon the tablets. When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.”
But he said, “It is not the sound made by victors, or the sound made by losers; it is the sound of revelers that I hear.”
As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets from his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.
Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are bent on evil. They said to me, ‘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.’
So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
When Moses saw that the people were running wild (for Aaron had let them run wild, to the derision of their enemies), then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.’” The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. Moses said, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.”
On the next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, blot me out of the book that you have written.” But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; see, my angel shall go in front of you. Nevertheless, when the day comes for punishment, I will punish them for their sin.”
Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf—the one that Aaron made.
No Settling for Idols
The people of God long ago
Made an idol out of their golden jewelry.
Their hearts, minds and souls were devoted to this golden jewelry
Which they cast into an image of a calf
One which they could focus their devotion and adoration
Until finally they placed all their allegiance and trust in a golden calf
Which had just been manipulated by the humans
Who melted it down and recast it from one form into another.
So it could certainly be melted down again,
Or it could be hoarded by one person over another,
Or it could be stolen or destroyed all together the way Moses did.
This object of ultimate allegiance and trust?
Well, God loves us too much to abide such illusions.
God and god alone is worthy of our ultimate and eternal allegiance and trust.
The God who created heaven and earth.
The God who enlivens all people from the dust into God’s image.
The God whose steadfast love for the people is reflected
In God’s Word of love and promise of life eternal.
A God like that isn’t gonna let anyone settle for any less of a God … or idol.
I have to say
In the course my spiritual reflection and prayer during the unsettling times of the last six months.
I’ve found my self contemplating idols.
Maybe not golden calves in particular,
But the idols I’m prone to making out of some of my blessings in life
Giving them so much attention for what they can do for me now
That I lose perspective on the life and love of what God does for everyone always.
My contemplation finds me reflecting on the difference between wants and needs,
Especially as so many wants are blocked or limited these days.
I wanna worship with everyone singing their hearts out in the same room
Sharing communion face-to-face, hand-to-hand,
And embracing one another with a sign of God’s peace.
I wanna tailgate and squeeze into throngs of people at the big game.
I want to file in and out of a concert or play or movie shoulder to shoulder with other patrons
I want to stuff our growing family into my parents house
Sitting on top of each other over a Thanksgiving meal or Christmas gift exchange
I’m sure there is much you miss as well.
As I look at my list though, as much as I miss it,
And as special as those blessings might be for me,
I can’t help but realize those blessed opportunities are not God.
None lasts forever.
Nor are they available to everyone equally.
I don’t need them
In the same way I need the life and love of God,
Which I still have …
And you still have …
Even as God is inspiring new opportunities for us to experience that life and love together
While other long-time cherished opportunities are blocked or limit.
In the course of this contemplation,
I sense the clumps of ore that make up our lives in these fiery furnace of these days
Smelting precious faith in our ever-living, ever-loving God
Who casts that faith into lives of love for God and neighbor forever.
I sense it me.
I sense it in you.
Thanks be to God for being God,
And not letting us settle for idols.