ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
INTRODUCTION: All that glitters is not gold. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, something dreadfully wrong was happening below among Aaron and the Israelites. They had fashioned a golden calf to be an object of worship. Were it not for the intercession of Moses, God would have destroyed every last one of them. From this account, God desires to teach us that He and He alone is worthy of worship, and also the value of intercessory prayer.
I. DELAY DOSEN’T MEAN DENIAL
1. “When the people saw”—the decision of God’s people to act apart from following God’s will was based upon what they could “see” (v. 1).
a. Moses was in the presence of the One true God.
b. God was in the process of revealing His divine plan for His people for the ages.
c. What could be more important than waiting until they heard from God?
ILLUSTRATE: Abraham and Sarah mistakenly thought that God had forgotten His promise to give them a son—or perhaps had simply waited too long. They took matters into their own hands, and today the world is still paying the price for their folly. Genesis 16:1-12 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. . . And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
2. The people told Aaron to make them “gods which shall go before us.”
3. After all the mighty works they had seen God do, they still had not learned the lesson, that it was God leading them and not Moses (v. 1). Just look at what they saw God do:
a. Crossing the Red Sea
b. Bitter waters made sweet
c. Manna supplied
d. Quail supplied
e. Water from the rock in Rephidim
f. Defeat of Amalek
4. They gave their gold earrings to Aaron to make the calf idol (v. 2,3). If there was an offering to give, it should have been given to the true God.
5. Yet, up until this point God had not required an offering from them. Sadly, they were willing to give to a false god, but wouldn’t give the offering of obedience to the One True God.
6. How often do God’s people today give of their time, effort, loyalty, and substance to the things of pleasure and interest to us, only to have nothing left for God?
7. After Aaron made the idol, he declared “these be thy gods” (v. 4). How sad that after all God had done for them that they gave the false god of gold the glory for bringing them up out of Egypt.
II. DELAY IS NEVER AN EXCUSE TO DIMINISH GOD’S GLORY
1. Aaron not only committed the sin of making an idol, he built an altar to it. The altar was and is to be:
a. A place of worship
b. A place of sacrifice
c. A place of consecration
2. He proclaimed that the next day was a “feast to the Lord.” Note that he was saying that the feast was to the true God. We know this because he used the name “Jehovah” translated here “Lord.”
3. The next morning the people made offerings to the true God while at the same time eating, drinking, and playing (v. 6). When the Bible says “play” it is a way of telling us they were indulging in sexual immorality (see verse 25).
4. When we attempt to mix our own selfish desire for pleasure with worship of the One true God, it is a polluted worship, and it becomes a stench in the nostrils of a holy God! GOD WILL SHARE HIS GLORY WITH NO ONE OR THING! ILLUSTRATE: I once refused to perform a marriage for a couple when the bride-to-be told me that she would marry the man, but was unwilling to forsake her other lovers. Isn’t that what we do to God when we expect Him to share our love with other things.
5. God is seeking true worshippers (John 4:23). That He is “seeking” implies that true worshippers may not be too easy to find. Listen to words of Jesus, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him”.
6. Are you a TRUE worshipper?
III. GOD PROVED HIS MERCY AND GRACE IN THE PRONOUNCEMENT OF JUDGEMENT
1. He showed His grace in that He told Moses to go down and see what the people had done while he was with God (v. 7).
2. God could have immediately destroyed them, but in mercy He was giving Moses the opportunity to intercede on their behalf. Just look at the eight count indictment in verses 8,9:
a. They turned aside quickly—a long time to them was but a short time to God.
b. They disobeyed the “way which God commanded.”
c. They made an idol.
d. They worshipped it.
e. They sacrificed to an idol.
f. They acknowledged the idol to be their god.
g. They credited the idol with their deliverance.
h. He said they were a stiffnecked people.
3. God was not being unfair or harsh in the decree of judgement. Never forget that He was giving Moses the law and His promise of blessing while they were committing spiritual adultery. God desired to bless them and make them a blessing to the world in His plan of redemption.
4. God said to Moses, “LEAVE ME ALONE that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume (destroy, make riddance) them.”
5. Oh, church, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. The Bible tells us that God is a consuming fire. If God is to consume me, I want Him to consume me in His love, not wrath. I want to love, trust, and be obedient to Him. I want to please Him with my faith. I want to hear Him say one day, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
IV. ISRAEL IS INTRODUCED TO THE BLESSING OF INTERCESSION
1. He said that He would make a great nation of Moses.
2. Moses knew that that was not God’s plan. It would have been easy to say, “YES!” and have the honor of being the father of a great nation, but instead . . .
3. Moses besought the Lord (v. 11).
a. The intercession of Moses for the people of Israel reveals that God answers the prayers of His faithful servants and allows them to share in His redemptive purposes.
b. Through intercession, we become co-workers with God.
c. In that way the fate of others are in our hands, as the fate of Israel was in Moses’ hands.
d. Our church prayer room needs to be an intercession room.
4. Moses acknowledged who Aaron had failed to acknowledge. He acknowledges God’s deliverance, power, and might.
5. Moses was concerned about God’s reputation among the heathen (v. 12). The sin of God’s people, NOT the act of God, would have been responsible for the Lord’s name to be maligned.
6. How often do our sins bring shame upon the cause and name of Christ in our community? That is why we must carefully guard our conduct. That is why the Bible places such high standards on church leadership.
7. He begged God to change His mind.
8. He reminded God of the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Has God made a covenant with you and I? YES! Just look at what God has promised:
Acts 16:29-34 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Jeremiah 31:34 I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
V. PRAYER CHANGES THINGS
1. Moses was able, through intercession, to change God’s mind (v. 14).
2. PRAYER DOES CHANGE THINGS!
3. God does not disregard the intercession of a faithful servant. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
4. It’s an unfathomable mystery that God should be persuaded by the intercession of a fallible human being to alter His plan.
5. God delights to be moved by the love, faith, and prayers of His faithful people. ILLUSTRATE: Abraham interceded for Sodom (Genesis 18:22-33).
CONCLUSION: What are you praying for? DON’T GIVE UP. GOD’S DELAY DOES NOT MEAN GOD’S DENIAL! Don’t change course like the Israelites did when they became impatient and created the golden calf. HE KEEPS HIS PROMISE—HIS WORD IS TRUE. JUST KEEP ON PRAYING TIL LIGHT BREAKS THROUGH!