Reading: Exodus 32:1-10
In Exodus 20:4 God commands Israel “You shall not make for yourself a carved image”.
When Moses is on the mountain the people pressure Aaron to make a golden calf to represent God. Israel wants an image of God as evidence of His nearness, and worship it. Vs 4 describes the image as “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Ex 32:8). Israel shows great contempt for God. He gives them very much proof that He is near them, for example, the pillar of cloud and fire, the daily manna, and water when necessary. Furthermore God’s glory clearly shines in nature.
Why does God prohibit making an image of Him? God is spiritual, that is, invisible, and cannot be represented in an image. Furthermore, when we make an image of God we give it characteristics according to our own imagination. We then limit God and bring Him down to our own level.
Israel also worships their golden calf (vs 8). The character of this worship is determined by the people themselves, contrary to what God had commanded in Exodus 20:4 and 5.
The Heidelberg Catechism warns “We are not to … worship Him in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word.” This warning is still very relevant today. A big danger for the church is serving God in our own manner, and living as we chose. By nature, people do not want God to tell them how to live. Therefore they make a mental image of God to suit themselves and then worship Him and live in the way they prefer. They still call Him God, Lord and Jesus but they actually worship another god (namely themselves) and that is making your own golden calf.
Key text: Ex 32:7 “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.’ ”
Question: Give one or two examples of how people today worship God according to their own way. How can we prevent ourselves from doing his?