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!

The World’s Afraid to Die

Photo by Ian Panelo on

It’s on every corner of the internet, TV, radio, podcast, heck even my Bible app was asking me to wash my hands today… the Coronavirus. I remember when I was a child, everyone talking about mad cow disease, Y2K and the strange weather patterns they called El Nino. As I grew older, the world was discussing bird flu, SARs, gosh I can’t remember the names of all the scary new sicknesses through the years.

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.

John 14:27

I’m not really here to tell you not to be afraid. God is. However, fear can be motivator for action. Maybe we need to know that we aren’t invincible sometimes. Maybe we need reminders that our old, sick, and vulnerable are not being taken care of as well as they should. There’s really no need for worry of the future or whether you and your loved ones will get sick or how this sickness will progress as we learn more about it. Your worry will do nothing. However, if you use the scariness of the situation to pull you into the thick of loving others, if it makes you aware that the world is afraid and many are drowning in storms on a sea of hopelessness without a rock to stand, then maybe all this can be made purposeful.

I was going to repeat my post called “Fear is a Liar,” and you can read that too as it could apply as well in some ways. Yet, I didn’t think it really encompassed this sort of situation where there is a fear about a real and present danger.

If you’re younger than 80 and in fairly good health, you’ll probably be fine and suffer no worse than you would with a flu, according to various sources. But, what if you are older, have bad health, or, like most of us, have loved ones that could be vulnerable? You need to know you have the Rock of Yahweh. He’s here today, like He was here yesterday, and will be here tomorrow. In fact, He exists outside of time itself, so He’s already there in tomorrow before you.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you where you go.

Joshua 1:9

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13

There are those of us who have already been affected either ourselves, our loved ones, or simply being quarantined and locked down, our normal lives disrupted. I want you to know that God is by your side, arm around your back, waiting for you to speak to Him your fears, to let Him handle them, so you can be the disciple and priest (all Children of God are His priests!) who loves others and brings them hope and comfort.

You were made for such times as this. It’s no accident you were born in the period you were, so rise, rise up on the faith and hope of God. With Him, you are enough to walk through this fire of fear and chaos on behalf of the many who cannot.

The world needs you because there are many who are unbelievers or are weak of faith, and they are awash in this storm. Stand on the Rock, and call them to the firm place beside you.

God bless! May He heal, comfort, and protect you all.

God’s Name

You’ll come across it all the time in the Bible: God’s name. You’ll see it in so many forms. He’s called Yahweh, I am that I am (or “I will be who/what I will be” depending on translation), El Shaddai, the Elohim, El Roi, Lord of hosts/armies, and sometimes simply The Name.

Why is God’s name so important that it’s brought up repeatedly? First, the Hebrews were surrounded by nations who had their own “gods,” and they wanted to make sure to differentiate their One True God from all the others. Back in the Old Testament, when God “left” the other nations to the “foreign gods” after they abandoned Him at the tower of Babel, the Hebrews were brought out from this confusion to start over with God as the light for all. He’d always intended to save us all, and to do that, we needed to know who He is.

There is power in a name. It signifies an identity, of course, but also the characteristics and reputation of that identity. God is not like the other “gods,” who were like fallen humans with some magic capabilities or like distant stars that left people to their destinies with little care.

We learn His characteristics:

He’s holy.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. – Matthew 6:9

He’s a place of refuge.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. – Proverbs 18:10

He is salvation.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:12

He was the same God of all the righteous people He’d called on before. He is the uncreated creator.

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who (that) I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. – Exodus 3:13-15

He existed first and will always exist.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8

He is our Father and comforter.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15

He is the only way, truth, and life.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6

He is our healer.

Saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” – Exodus 15:6

He has the ultimate power and knowledge above all others.

Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! – Proverbs 30:4

He is jealous as He’s the One who created, loves, and guides you. Why would you follow another?

…for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God – Exodus 34:14

He is very serious about His reputation as it’s how His people will know Him. He is all the above characteristics and more.

“Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord.” – Jeremiah 16:21

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, – Matthew 28:19

Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I.” – Isaiah 52:6

You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. – Leviticus 19:12

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. – Exodus 20:7

Just skimming the Bible, you’ll find that names were important to God and the Hebrews for signifying the essence of a being, including humans. Names were changed when the person made a change in their identity. They were usually assigned a name change by God Himself.

Abram (high father) became Abraham (father of a multitude) when he was promised descendants as numerous as the sands and stars. Sarai (princess) became Sarah (mother of nations) as she would be the mother of the multitude. Jacob (supplanter) became Israel (to strive with) when God told him he’d no longer be known by his trickery but rather by his striving with God. Simon (God has heard) became Peter (rock) when he became a disciple and Jesus declared he would be the rock of His church.

What is the meaning of your name, and what do you believe God would call you? Have you experienced a deep change in identity like those in the Bible?

So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day. – Psalms 61:8

Sources outside of the Bible:

Set Apart

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. – Isaiah 44:6

Originally, I was going to look up historical “gods” for why our God is different from every other “god.” I may still do that another day. However, today, I needed to just write my personal reasons why God is different from anyone and anything else as I’ve experienced Him.

First, anytime He asks something from me, it’s only ever something to help me or others, not Him. God doesn’t ask me to follow a set of rules just to appease Him or task me to do rituals simply to calm down His wrath. His laws are to make the world a safer and happier place, even when it seems like it’s about Him. For example, the commandment to put no other “gods” before Him is because 1) He loves us and gets jealous when we give our attention and desires to an imaginary figure when He’s there open arms waiting for us. Everything else is emptiness. 2) Following other “gods” means following their possibly contrary rules, chaining ourselves as slaves to another master, and confusing ourselves and others in who we really are as Children of the One True God of love.

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. – Revelation 21:6

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! – Psalm 78:58

Bel bows down; Nebo stoops; their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts. – Isaiah 46:1

He has limitless patience, love, and forgiveness. He does get upset if we purposely fall into pits of destruction, causing harm to ourselves and others, for obvious reasons. However, that doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us anymore. We are never so far away from Him that we’re unreachable. We just have to be willing to accept Him and His forgiveness. He loves us no matter what and will seek us out individually just to save us from ourselves if need be.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

He’s an individualistic AND community-minded God. Following on the heels of my last point, He looks at the good of the whole without sacrificing the good of the individual. We aren’t just ants to His eyes or numbers to His heart. He breathes into our bodies to make us living souls, and His heart beats for each one of us, with all our unique quirks. He would have died for you if you were the only person in existence. YOU.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” – Matthew 18:12

He’s always present. He doesn’t exist only in a figure to bow down to, and He doesn’t leave us when we seek Him. He lies even within the deepest recesses of our being, settling down as the Holy Spirit to guide us through every day. When you speak to Him, you don’t have to follow certain requirements, rituals, or formalities. You could be lying in a ditch with only the outpourings of wordless emotions thrumming through you, and God will understand more than you understand yourself.

“Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD. “Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? – Jeremiah 23:23-24

God doesn’t live up to our expectations. He exceeds them. He isn’t human-like as the Greek, Roman, Scandinavian, etc. gods were, with petty revenges, weaknesses, and the ability to be tricked or permanently killed. He isn’t a live-action soap opera on the mountains with magical powers. When He loves, He loves beyond what you are capable of. When He overpowers, He can’t be matched. When He protects, He can’t be foiled. There is none like Him but Him. I guess that’s why He calls Himself I AM.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? – Numbers 23:19

He’s a God with a servant heart. Although He is King above all Kings, He would sit and wash others’ feet. He could’ve continued to exist as comfortably as He wants, but He came to Earth to travel through hot lands, heal the ill and broken, and eat with the least of us. Then, He suffered a criminal’s punishment and death before a crowd of mocking Jews, the very ones He came to save first! Yet, to the very end, He still forgave and still continued to save.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.- John 13:3-5

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

Our God is a God of love, patience, forgiveness, with a heart of servitude, a God who walks amongst and lives within His people, peering into our very souls for our wordless murmurings and our hearts for our pleas, and looking at each one of His children as individuals with our many unique characteristics and personalities that He loves. There is none like our God. What have you found sets apart Yahweh from the rest?

Kingdom of the World

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24

We all end up making something our master, whether it’s our family, career dreams, bill collectors, or really anything. Anything can end up being your guide for living in this world, and you follow what it asks from you every day. We’ve all allowed the world to be our master at some point in time. If we serve the world, we don’t serve God.

If you ever wonder what or who actually qualifies as “the world” to God, well the Bible actually answers that.

“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” John 18:36

Basically, “the world” is anything or anyone which is not of the kingdom of God. It is of the kingdom of the world. The children of God are citizens of the kingdom of God, which existed yesterday, today, and forever. It’s never disappeared, even if humanity hasn’t always been a part of it (since we were kicked from Eden). God’s kingdom is like Him, immortal. The kingdom of the world is continually dying, eventually fading away to non-existence.

“A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.” Isaiah 40:6-7

We do live in this kingdom that is “the world,” but we do not belong to it. We are made to be immortal as we are in God’s image. However, God gives us freewill to choose the path we wish to walk down, whether that is of death or life.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

The kingdom of this world is led by none other than Satan. This is what I’ve found.

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

When judgment day comes, who is called the “ruler of this world?”

“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” John 12:31

I’ve used this verse in another post, but it’s relevant here.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” John 15:18-21

If the world murdered Jesus, it will treat you no better. You will encounter resistance, argument, anger, and possibly even ostracism. That’s while living in a country based on freedom of religion. It’s then, you will know you have faced “the world.”

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

However, you have no reason to fear the world or the people who belong to it. They will all be in yesterday soon enough. Fear makes us a servant of the world. Our true master, Yahweh, is loving and immortal, a rock that stands in the midst of a vast, tumultuous ocean.

Commandment Series: The First

For the next ten weeks, I’ll be focusing on each of the ten commandments. These laws may exist in the Old Testament, but Jesus brings them forward, saying, “”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17 In fact, Jesus makes a point of elucidating each commandment so that we can all fully understand the meaning behind it.

This week is about the First Commandment.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3

Your first thought may be to consider this an ancient problem. I mean, how hard is it to avoid pagan gods? In some parts of the world, it’s harder than others, but the fact is, you don’t need a golden idol in order to place other gods before Yahweh.

In both B.C. and A.D. times, there’ve been plenty of gods to worship. Many are gods of the water, trees, farming, war, fertility, destruction, creation, fishermen, feasts, etc. etc. If you can think of, well anything, there was or is a god for it. Crazy thing is, nowadays, we don’t usually call them gods in the Western world. So, it can be quite shocking when you realize you’ve been placing a “god” before your real Father.

Take for instance my addiction to my smartphone. There’s no doubt to me it’s an addiction, and I know I’m not alone in this. Some of you are glued to your T.V., your games, your hobbies, your career, your money, or even your pride. Oh, but it’s not harming anyone, least of all angering God, right? That’s a good question.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Anytime you see your “worldly worship” come before your prayer time with God or serving God in anyway, the First Commandment comes into play. If your phone interferes with family time, if your T.V. shows are glorifying evil, if your hobbies and career keep you in a cycle of greed, if you don’t trust God with your money situation or refuse to spend any to help others, or if you are ever worried about what others think or say about you, you are placing other “gods” before Yahweh. We all have at some point.

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5

Ya know, if you didn’t believe me before. It’s right there in writing.

How about this?

“No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

If you serve another “god,” you’re not loving God completely. You can’t follow God if you’re walking in the opposite direction.

Another one of my favorite verses is this, so I’m posting the whole thing.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?

And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34

Worry is another problem for me. When we worry, we’re acting as if the world is more powerful than God. We worship at the altar of anxiety and sacrifice it our wasted time. We are placing worry and the problems of this world above God. Yet, He is clear on what we can do instead. We should “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” In other words, place God first, love Him, trust Him. He’s stronger than all feelings, problems, and “gods.” He shall provide.

When changing a habit or stuck mindset, we shouldn’t just focus on the negative, we must focus on the positive. So, we know what NOT to do in order to “have no other gods before” Yahweh, so what SHOULD we do?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment.” Matthew 22:36-38

My all-time favorite verse. This is the first commandment, to love God with all your being and might. If you put Him first in your life, think of every action, thought, and word as if you are representing your God (because you are!). If you do everything out of your abundant love for Him, you’ll be on the correct path.

You won’t be perfect at this because none of us are. However, by choosing God as your master, you WILL be cutting the strings the world uses to make you its puppet, even if you stumble a little when you’re free.

Next week is the Second Commandment, which is closely related to this one but not exactly the same.

אָמֵן Amen