Summary: A sermon which emphasizes that God is Enough.
“All that Glitters…”
Have you ever waited for someone or something until you just didn’t think you could wait anymore?
We are just not good at waiting are we?
And as we see in Exodus the people of Israel weren’t any better at it.
Moses, their leader, the one who had gotten them this far, was up on the mountain.
The people were at the foot of the mountain twiddling their thumbs, pacing the floor.
Where was Moses anyway?
What was taking so long?
“What are we suppose to do while we are waiting?”
“Are we sure he is even coming back down?”
To say the people were stressed out would be an understatement.
Moses’ trip up the mountain had actually been a high point in their journey.
Reaching Mount Sinai was an important milestone.
And just before Moses left, the people were getting ready for a big ceremony.
They were in a worshipful mood, assuring Moses in Chapter 19:8, “everything the Lord has spoken, we will do.”
Yes, things were going well, and then Moses stayed longer than anyone expected.
The waiting got to the people.
They seemed to feed each other’s fears.
And no voice of reason seems to have emerged to try and calm them down.
They wanted some security, something they could hold on to.
And if Moses was gone, that must make Aaron, his brother, the new leader.
So they went to Aaron!
What the people wanted was for Aaron to make “gods” for them.
They didn’t want so much to change religions as they wanted some security.
After all, their past had been full of betrayal, deprivation, and neediness.
And what was ahead of them was uncertainty!
They wanted a “god” to go ahead of them into the unknown.
Notice that they were not turning their back completely on the Lord.
In verse 5, Aaron declares, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”
They convinced themselves they were still worshiping the One God, but they wanted “something more.”
Anxiety can make people do funny things, and what it made the people of Israel do is to worship their earrings!!!
Aaron told the people to take off their earrings and then he makes a calf out of them.
They had to know better than to think that their earrings led them out of Egypt.
Nevertheless, they could see the golden calf; the calf was right there among them.
Somehow they thought that would make them feel better.
Wanting some security in this scary world is not bad in itself and the people’s earrings were not inherently evil.
What made this situation bad was that they were opening the door to idolatry.
Idolatry isn’t necessarily bowing down to a statue.
Idolatry is being afraid to make ourselves vulnerable to God’s future, even if we don’t quite know where we are going.
Our temptation to idolatry doesn’t mean we stop believing in God; it is about doubting that God alone is enough.
And so many of us, as human beings, respond to our anxiety by creating idols.
Some turn the responsibility of doing our best into the idol of success.
Some turn the wisdom of wise financial planning into the idol of trusting our money.
Some might even turn the laws of God or the Commandments into an idol, and in the process forget that mercy trumps sacrifice every time!!!
How do you respond to your anxiety?
Is God alone enough?
I think that this is what the “Rich Young Man” had to wrestle with in Matthew Chapter 19.
He wanted the “good life,” but he wasn’t able to trust God enough in order to have it.
I have heard that if you want to catch a monkey, you need a jar which the monkey can just get its paw into when its fingers are open.
Then put something in the jar that the monkey wants.
The monkey will put its hand in the jar and will close its fist around it.
But, when the monkey closes its fist, it won’t be able to get it out of the jar.
And the monkey won’t let go of what the monkey wants…
…and unless it lets go it won’t be able to get its hand out.
Like the monkey with its hand in the jar, the Rich Young Man had a tight grip on his possessions, and unless he was willing to loosen his grip and leave them behind, he couldn’t be free!!!
We are told that this man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Many of us probably have taken it for granted that this young man was asking Jesus about how to go to heaven after he dies.
But the phrase, “eternal life” also means “life such as God Himself lives,” or “life that is characteristic of God.”