We are worshipful beings. We were created to worship the One who created us. He is most worthy of our praise and adoration and complete devotion. The problem is that sometimes we end up worshipping other things. I think somewhere in our twisted psyche, it seems easier to worship something more or less tangible like money, or another person, or ourselves even…something we somehow feel we can control. And people in Biblical times (including sadly, the Israelites) would actually create idols to worship. You remember the whole golden calf incident? If not, let me give you a quicky refresher. In chapter 32 of Exodus, we catch up with the Israelites who, under the leadership of Moses (who is under the leadership of the Lord God Almighty), have fled Egypt and are now hanging out at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses is on top of the mountain in the presence of God. See, God had a lot of important stuff to tell Moses and so Moses was up there a while – forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:18). The Israelites got impatient waiting for Moses to return so they got this bright idea that they should melt down all their gold earrings, making them into the shape of a calf. And if that wasn’t unhinged enough, they decided to make sacrifices and bow down to this thing.
Do you not see the insanity here? They fashioned an idol, BY THEIR OWN HANDS and then bowed down to worship it. I mean, to me it makes about as much sense as cooking up a pan of biscuits and then falling down on my face in front of them. First off, they are not alive to be able to do a darn thing (well except perhaps be mighty tasty with some peach jelly) and second off, how impressive can a god be that I made myself? I half the time can’t remember where I left my keys…how on earth am I ever gonna make something worth worshipping? The answer is – I’m not. And the Israelites didn’t either. They got impatient because God wasn’t moving fast enough to suit them, so they took matters into their own hands and well…besides looking like a bunch of idiots, they sure did tick God off pretty bad.
You’d think we would have learned something from them, right? But how many times do we end up making idols out of things that we put before God. And God knew that about us. I mean the first of the ten commandments listed in Exodus 20 was about that very thing:
You shall have no other gods before Me.
Now I want to mention one thing. One might tend to think that the way this reads, it would seem that we are allowed to have “gods” in our life as long as the One True God is the most important. Check out this bit of commentary from David Guzik:
This does not imply that it is permissible to have other gods, as long as they line up behind the true God. Instead the idea is that there are to be no other gods before the sight of the true God in our life. Before Me is literally, “to My face”.
God created us with a desire to worship…Him. And if He’s not the focus of our worship, then something else will be. And the world will give you a slew of things to choose from. You could make success your focus in life and lay all your resources, time and effort down at that alter in order to achieve what will only give you temporary fulfillment. You could make your appearance your idol and burn all your money, time, and self-worth sacrifices on the right clothes, the right hairstyle, the best looking body in order to gain what you think would be satisfaction with yourself. You could pour yourself out on the alter of pleasing others, dancing and singing to whatever tune you think everyone else is playing in an effort to be loved…or at least liked.
Or, you could devote your worship to the only One who is worthy of that worship. The All-Sufficient One who desires your devotion, your love. He wants to be your One Thing…your Only Thing. He is great and mighty and His arm is not too short to save and neither is His ear too dull to hear (Isaiah 51:9). He is able to do more than we could ever hope for or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He is limitless and eternal. He’s mysterious and amazing and alive and active. He is beyond our comprehension. And praise for that. Who would want a god they could figure out anyway? Wouldn’t be much of a god to me. I’m sticking with the Almighty.