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Summary: A sermon on overcoming idols.

“What is our Golden Calf?”

Exodus 32:1-17

By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA


Humans are not created to be godless. If we don’t know the true God, we will make our own deities.

It’s a sign of our finitude, and a subconscious awareness that we need direction, purpose, and relationship with something, someone bigger than ourselves.

God created us for relationship.

He created us to be in relationship with Himself and with one another.

Tragically, we broke that relationship but we have not lost our genetic makeup which needs…

…must have that relationship with the Almighty.

The story of the Bible is the story of God and humankind trying to rebuild our broken relationship.

We see this story played out from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

We see this story played out in all of human history.

We see this story played out in our daily lives.

It’s the story of a lost people and a loving God.

It’s the story of a very weak people, and a very strong God.

It’s the story of a God Who seeks us out, and a people who, often, don’t want to be found or don’t know that we have been found.

If a people were ever to experience a high moment, this was it.

Never before had a people been so privileged as Israel.

They had just been liberated, set free after 400 years of slavery.

Their nation was being born, the nation of Israel, and they were soon going to be given a homeland…

…and they had been chosen by God to be God’s followers, the people of God.

They were to be God’s witnesses to the other nations of the earth, witnessing to the truth that there is only one true and living God.

And as we read in our Old Testament Lesson for this morning, Moses had gone up on Mount Sinai to receive the civil and religious laws of God, the laws that were to form them into a nation and govern them as a people.

But abruptly and sadly, a catastrophic tragedy struck—all because Moses had been on the mountain too long!

In their impatience and forgetfulness, they turned to Aaron to create other gods, in direct violation of the first two commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me,” and, “You shall not make for yourself an idol.”

The Israelites turned away from God: they lost their faith and trust in Him, denied, rejected, and rebelled against Him.

Instead of trusting God and waiting upon Him, the people chose to take things into their own hands, do their own thing, and go their own way.

And thus, we have the sad and terrible tragedy of the golden calf.

Does it sound familiar?

Can we relate to the people of Israel?

How often do we lose our faith and trust in the God Who has chosen and delivered us, and instead, choose to take matters into our own hands, do our own thing, go our own way?

And what happens when we do this?

Not only do we break our relationship with God, and miss out on the good plans God has for our lives we also fail to live out our calling which is to witness to the world for Christ Who has called us and saved us.

“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.’”

In other words, they were looking for a quick fix.

Something to fill that god-shaped void, anything would do.

So, taking their jewelry, Aaron fashions a golden calf and proclaims it as the object of their worship.

The next day they have a festival which included making sacrifices before the calf, eating, drinking, and reveling—which means to have a boisterous, wild party…an orgy if you will!

And we see that this golden calf, this false god, demands nothing from them spiritually or morally.

They move back into the realm of darkness and confusion in no time flat.

It sure can happen fast, can it not?

One moment we are being rescued from slavery to sin and death by following the Risen Christ, the next we find ourselves, once again, in bondage to the very things that caused us so much pain and confusion in the first place.

We live in a society, a world which is rife with self-absorption and materialism.

We try to live our commitments to worship, read the Bible, and pray…

…and we find a real freedom in this.

We find ourselves growing and maturing as human beings.

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