When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.” All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry. The Lord told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” Exodus 32:1-8 (NLT)
When I was a preschooler I used to go shopping with Mom. And when I was old enough to walk I would tag along behind her and look for familiar packages (chocolate, gooey things and Pop Tarts, of course!). Mom and I each had our job in that store; I would throw stuff I wanted in the basket whenever I thought she wasn't looking; Mom would pick out all the unhealthy stuff, put it back on the shelf, and say aloud to nobody in particular, Hmmm, now I wonder how that got in there; it's on my UN-shopping list!"
For the days until the new year arrives, I’d like for us to create an UN-shopping list based on the experience of the Exodus people, Israel. If you will, let’s think of the approaching new year as a grocery store. You have just walked-in, gotten your basket, and you’re about to enter the first aisle.
A new year is a clean slate aisle; you can choose what you will from the shelves. That can be a refreshing thought, with the outlook of forgetting last year's mistakes and trials; it can also be intimidating. The people of God had a new chance; they'd been held prisoner for 400 years in Egypt, and now they were camped at Mt. Sinai, free. The question was, "What do we do with this freedom, this clean new slate?" Their leader Moses had been up on the mountain speaking to this God with no name, no face; he'd been gone for weeks.
They chose to get nervous.
We also have that choice; we can be nervous about the economy or our government. We might worry about our jobs or kids. Maybe your relationship with your husband or wife is shaky.
What will happen this year?
Considering the only certainty about this new year is its' uncertainty, it’s a good idea to decide early on what belongs in your life’s basket and what doesn’t.
Today’s item that doesn’t make the cut:
God told Moses the people were unbelieving. He said they had corrupted themselves; they were "quick to turn away." Literally, the word means go to ruin. The nervous Israelites had turned away from the presence of a God they couldn’t see, in favor of a hand-crafted idol, a bull statue covered with gold plate. Up to this point, the people had been following the Lord by faith. Now they wanted something of substance.
We are not altogether so different. For some folks to attend church there must be all the outward physical signs of God's approval – TV cameras, vast programs, famous personalities. (You wonder at times just who it is people come to worship under those conditions.)
Sometimes I get nervous about following the Lord by faith. I would like for God to drop a few miracles in my direction so I can believe better. Then the Father speaks to my heart, "Russell, what is this puny faith you’re walking with?”
Sometimes things happen in our lives that shake what little faith we may have. There is a Bible-word for that: TEMPTATION!
If you're going to toss unbelief out of your cart for this year, put in some time preparing to do just that. You do that by becoming better acquainted with the author of faith.
Remember, faith comes by hearing...the Word of God Romans 10.17.
Make time this year for Bible Study, fellowship and prayer, both at home and with your church family. Make it a priority.
J. Wilbur Chapman said, "My life is governed by this rule: Anything that dims my vison of Christ or takes away my taste for Bible study or cramps my prayer life or makes Christian work difficult is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it."