Are You Worshipping the Real Yahweh?

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

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.” 

Exodus 32:1-5

The interesting thing about this situation is not that the Israelites were worshipping foreign gods. In fact, they didn’t believe they were. The word “gods” translates from the hebrew for “Elohim,” which is incidentally, the same word commonly used throughout the Bible to describe God. However, sometimes, it does indicate other spiritual beings. So, is this what the Israelites meant this time? Actually, the writer of Exodus really drives home the point that they meant Yahweh by saying they were dedicating the altar and calf in a festival to the “Lord.” This translates to nothing other than Yahweh.

So, what was God, the true God, Yahweh, upset about? Remember, at this time, Moses was on the top of the mountain, sealing the deal, as you will, on behalf of the Israelites. They were essentially entering into a relationship contract with God that can be likened to a marriage agreement.

It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. They broke my covenant, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:32

Honestly, there are innumerable verses that compare Israel to a bride and God as the groom, but the point is that their relationship was supposed to be that of fidelity and love. Yet, on the day of their marriage, Israel was impatient and bowed down to a golden calf. Remember the second commandment, being made at that same moment?

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:4-6

That was a separate commandment from the first, which mentioned not worshipping other gods. So, what is He jealous of if the image is of Him? Well, first, the calf was not indicative of God’s image but that of a canaanite type god. It was something more tangible and understandable to the people of Israel than a fierce God of roaring winds and thunder they couldn’t see without terror.

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sounding of the ram’s horn,and the mountain enveloped in smoke, they trembled and stood at a distance. “Speak to us yourself and we will listen,” they said to Moses. “But do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”

Exodus 20:18

They decided to send Moses up to speak to God rather than face Him themselves. Israel couldn’t handle Him. After wandering the desert for so long and not having any place to call home, no certain source of sustenance, Moses disappearing for longer than expected, and no leader in his place, they wanted something they could control. They could control a golden calf. It was safe, an image from their past, and they could touch and see it.

God was heartbroken because they didn’t seek the true Him.

Have you seen anything similar in this modern world that could be likened to what the Israelites did that day? I’ve seen people make God in their own image. Even if the evidence is to the contrary, they will say God agrees with what is obviously sin or that He shames what is obviously good, if that makes it easier on them to continue their life as they want. I think it’s a common thing to hope God is controllable, that He will do what we want Him to do.

The truth is, God is not controllable. He is like a gentle breeze sometimes and like a terrible storm or avalanche others. He is rock steady, and we can always depend on Him to be good. However, what that is is not determined by the world, and He doesn’t go by the rules of what society deems good and bad. He existed before anything and anyone here, and He will continue to exist when everything is wiped away. He is an ancient force who happens to love us. Yet, He is anything but safe.

Can you do God the favor of reaching out to the true Him, and coming into His presence without preconceived notions of what you’d like Him to be? He loves the true us, as broken and sinful as we are, and we should attempt to know and love the true Him as well.

God bless!

Commandment Series: The Second

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6

Are you burdened with the weight of carrying gods, or is your God carrying you?

The second commandment is very close to the first (not placing any other gods above Yahweh), so much so, one wonders why they are always deemed separate commands. It seems oddly specific, and in the ancient world, perhaps not a strange thing to ask as many pagan gods had followers dedicating idols to their worship. In this day and time, however, you might wonder how the second commandment affects you.

In the prior post about the first commandment, we clarified that “gods” can be anything you serve other than Yahweh: wealth, pride, electronics, even other people, etc. We must place God above everything else in our life, and He will provide. The second commandment tells us not to set up idols of our “gods.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not making clay representations of my iPhone and bowing down to it. So, what gives? How do we know what an idol is in modern times?

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:20-23

Like the wind, we may not see our invisible God, but He always moving the world around us. No one is excused from not knowing He exists because, as the author proclaims, He is always around us in everything we perceive. Yet, perhaps out of ignorance on how to connect with a God of His glory, people began to worship the creation instead of the creator.

“‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

The problem is, we are putting above us things that we were supposed to subdue. In other words, we forget that we are made higher than everything else on Earth (except angels Hebrews 2:7). We are the children of God! Yet, we “worship” everything that should be in submission to us and forget to submit ourselves to God.

One source below states, “An idol is anything we depend upon to meet the deep needs of the heart—love, security, worth, or significance. When we seek to find identity and security in something besides God, we have made it an idol. John Calvin said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” We often search for peace or identity through relationships, substances, money, or entertainment. Addictions are forms of idolatry, as are a host of other worldly enticements that cannot ultimately satisfy. When we give ourselves to the pursuit of manmade gods, we are breaking the second commandment.”

I’m going to go one step further. Consider this verse.

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God! I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are continually before me. I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” Psalm 50:7-15

The ancient gods, as well as the new, survive on sacrifice. We must give up something of ourselves or our resources in order to keep them alive for worship. Idolatry is all about greed and selfishness. We give something: we get something. If the “gods” are not satisfied with our offerings, we are punished or ignored. They are selfish, and their followers worship them just to receive things. They need their followers almost more than their followers need them.

Yahweh is quite different. HE sacrificed for US. He needs nothing from us, but He wants us all the same. God is all about selfless love in everything He’s done, and He expects us to be the same. He rains blessings on the good and bad. As a father, He may discipline us, but it has nothing with what He can gain from us.

“Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low. Their idols are on beasts, on livestock. Your loads are more burdensome than their reports. They stoop, they bow down together, and they are not able to rescue the burden, but they themselves go off into captivity. “Listen to me, house of Jacob, and all you remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld from before your birth, and who have been carried from the womb. Even until your old age, I am the one, and I’ll carry you even until your gray hairs come. It is I who have created, and I who will carry, and it is I who will bear and save. To whom will you compare me, count me equal, or liken me, so that I may be compared? Those who pour out gold in a purse, weigh silver in a balance, hire a goldsmith in order to make a god, and then they bow down and even worship it. And they lift it on their shoulders, carry it, set it up in its place, and there it stands. It cannot move from that spot. One may even call to it, but it cannot answer nor save him from his distress.” Isaiah 46:1-7

Are you carrying your gods? Are you feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with the demands of daily life? Are you constantly worried about the future and what it brings? Are you giving up money, time, relationships, or health just to be able to keep your “gods” alive? If you are sacrificing ANYTHING, make sure you are sacrificing for Yahweh, and even then make sure it’s out of love; otherwise, even God doesn’t want it. Find what or who you’re sacrificing for because that’s your “god.” The one true God doesn’t require sacrifice to keep His blessings or love flowing. He won’t drain you. He fills you up. He carries you through life. You’ll never need to carry Him.

Let’s use my phone addiction as an example. I give it my time and attention. In return it gives me entertainment and a sense of social connection. If I fail to give it time, attention, battery charge, it fails to serve me in return. That’s because it’s fallible and a creation, not a creator. My phone should be serving me when and where I need it, without sacrificing my precious time or attention that would be better given to my family. I just need to make sure that I am in charge, not vice versa.

That show “Hoarders” is an extreme example, but those people sacrifice a lot to hold onto their things. They give up a clean home, relationships, health, their sanity. In return, they expect to hold onto what those things symbolize, like memories, the love of family members who gave them the things, or even protection from the world beyond their home as if their things are a hedge around them. They are never truly satisfied. They should be in charge. Their possessions should not be possessing them.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25

You’ll know you’ve built an idol when something or someone in your life requires you to “feed” it in order to keep it in your life, and it’s draining you dry. God made everything and is in control of everything. He’s got you; just let Him do His thing in your life. Let go and let God provide what you need.

Sources other than Bible:,