Having an idol gives you a sense, albeit a false sense, of stability and security, more so when you perceive your situation as fraught with uncertainties and dangers. At such a time of uncertainty, the Israelites were quick to settle down with a pathetic idol.
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” (Ex 32: 1)
Aaron too took the easy way out and indulged them.
And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Ex 32: 2,3)
True, Moses was long in coming down from the mountain, but how could they forget the strong and mighty hand of the Lord with which He brought them out of Egypt? How could they so quickly forget the walls of water between which they walked on dry land. And they had seen God’s provision of water to drink and manna to eat. I know at least one person who is so horrified by the extent of idolatry that the Israelites of old fell into time and again, that he is tempted to wonder if perhaps the Bible mentions idolatry in a figurative sense. (I believe that we must understand the historical records literally even if it belies all reason, as do the acts of sinful man ever so often.)
Today, for most of us, a literal idol is not a temptation at all. But anything that usurps the place of God in our lives is an idol to us, as detestable but many times more subtle and dangerous than a literal one.
Laurie’s post ‘Sacred Cows’ brought it home to me that we tend to create sacred cows out of people we respect. Chief candidates for sacred cows for our family would be John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John MacArthur, John Piper, Al Martin, and Martin Lloyd Jones. It is ever so comforting to rely on and trust mere men when it comes to doctrinal matters. We take to their voice and their skillful reasoning, their passion and their kindness. (Why even a creed or confession, however good, can become an idol.) Let us jealously guard our hearts and minds so that, while we rejoice in the teaching gifts of anointed men, we remember that they are mere men. Instead let us look to Jesus.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12: 1- 2).