Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Do We Have a Golden Calf?

“They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’?” (Exodus 32:8 NKJV)

However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. (2 Kings 10:29 NKJV)

God’s Command

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me (Exodus 20:4-5 NKJV).”

Aaron’s calf was made while Moses was receiving the command not to make images;  however, I think that the ten commandments were only codifying what the Israelites already knew.  So why would the Lord not want the children of Israel to make “carved” images or “molten images?”  I think the command speaks for itself.  Once they made the image, they would worship the image rather than the god the image supposedly represented.  As a matter of fact the people had said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ (Exodus 32:8 NKJV). 

In Jeroboam’s case, he set up a system of worship that would keep the ten northern tribes from worshiping in the right place, with the right priests, on the right feast days.  But the system was patterned after the true worship of Jehovah so I am assuming it was an easy sell to the northern ten tribes.  But Jeroboam is known as the man who made Israel (the northern ten tribes) to sin.  That is quite a legacy.  So were they worshiping the God who had delivered them from Egypt and who had given them the promised land, or were they worshiping a god of their own making? 

Idols were a Constant Problem

The children of Israel had their trouble with idols.   Aaron had his golden calves,  Jacob’s Rachel had her father’s household idols, MIcah in Judges 17 had his idols and shrine,  Gideon had his golden ephod that became a snare to him.  Some of the kings put pagan idols in the temple.  The beast that rises out of the land (the apostate Jew) in Revelation 13 is going to make an image to the gentile beast that arises out of the great sea and he is going to give that idol breath.  And since the Jews are always looking for signs to verify prophets they will be deceived into worshiping the first beast.  

I Wonder What our Golden Calves Are?

John commands us to keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).  We can worship the cross rather than the One who died on the cross.  We can begin to worship preachers rather than the One that they preach.  We can begin to think that the building is more important than the Lord that we are worshiping there.  We are told to remember the Lord by participating in the Lord’s supper “often.”  But we can begin to worship the Lord’s supper rather than the Lord the supper represents.   

One of our golden calves today is politics.  We assume that the political system can be made to represent Christ and the church.  But the political system will never be able to accomplish the work of the Holy Spirit in saving the lost and in sanctifying the believer.  Another golden calf is our music.  Music has always been good but music is not the thing we worship.  Many people choose their church affiliation based on the kind of music the church uses.  And yet the woman at the well in John 4 became a true worshiper of the Lord because of what the Lord said and no music was involved.  Another golden calf is “higher” education.  Higher education can be very helpful but it can be an idol if we begin to think that only those with advanced religious degrees know their Bibles and the Lord of the Bible.  Even the Bible can be made an object of worship rather than the source of worship if we aren’t careful.  And I personally have to be very careful here because I have great reverence for the Bible and for its power in saving and sanctifying those who read and “hear” its message.  

I find it interesting that whenever idols were worshiped, a system of worship that offended the Lord went with it.  I suspect that what goes for much of Christianity today has a bunch of golden calves that should be destroyed so that we can get back to the true worship of the One who redeemed us from the slave market of sin and paganism.  


Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of Week of March 5 and 12, 2023

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