“So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron, and he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.“ Exodus 32:3,4
About the time of Abraham who was called out from the moon worshippers of Ur, there lived a man named Job of Uz. He looked upon the same moon and spoke these words:
“If I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above.”
What is it inside a man that causes the one to look at the sun or the moon and know that it is the Creator alone that must be worshipped and one to look at the splendor of the moon and make it an idol? Is it not the Holy Spirit who guides us into worship of the one and only True God?
Abraham was a moon worshipper by birth. But God called him out of his idolatry and promised that through one of his descendants, numbered as many as the stars of heaven, his sin of idolatry would be atoned for.
In Genesis 32 those very descendants turned back to idolatry, worshipping a golden calf fashioned by their own hands. God’s response to their sin is severe,
“I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them.” But Moses intercedes on behalf of the idolators. “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven…And the Lord relented from His wrath.”
But it doesn’t take long for them to return to their whoring. By the time the prophet Ezekiel is on the scene God’s own holy temple has been filled with idols and the priests themselves are worshipping every image under and in the heavens.
“Between the porch and the alter, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, worshipping the sun.”
How did that happen?
In Acts 7 Stephen takes the high-priest and other synagogue members on a little walk down memory lane. Starting with Abraham’s call out of Ur, the promises he was given, the rescue and rise of Joseph in Egypt, the calling and ministry of Moses, and the Israelites’ rejection of the living oracles of God and turning of their hearts back to Egypt.
This stroll is starting to go south for Stephen’s listeners. Especially when he brings up the those reoccurring instances of idolatry: the golden calf, the host of heaven, the star of Rephan. Why? What caused these people, beloved of God, to be false to Him? The same thing that turns our own hearts to idols. Stephen’s answer to that question cost him his life.
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered.”
Except for the merciful invasion of the Holy Spirit in our hearts through the miracle of new birth we all have the same propensity: our hearts are turned to Egypt, to the slavery of sin. We are all idol factories, worshipping the creation and murdering the Creator.
But from the cross. From the cross, the one through whom, and for whom we and everything else was created, the Lord Jesus Christ breathes out final words of forgiveness. Like Moses and Stephen, He intercedes on behalf of the ones who cost Him His life. But because He is our perfect High Priest forever, His is a perfect intercession. There really is forgiveness for our idolatry through faith in Jesus Christ. What a God to be Worshipped!