The people made a calf at Mount Sinai;
they bowed before an image made of gold.
They traded their glorious God
for a statue of a grass-eating bull.
To read today’s portion of scripture, you can purchase The One Year Bible or find the following in your Bible:
1 Samuel 5:1-7:17
When you read those words, the ridiculousness of their choice jumps right out at you. Who would trade “their glorious God” for a statue of a bull? And what’s equally unbelievable is that Israel formed and worshiped this bull in the exact same place where they had pledged their devotion to God.
Spurgeon had this to say about Israel’s folly:
“An idolatrous image when made of gold is not one jot the less abominable than it would have been had it been made of dross and dung: the beauty of art cannot conceal the deformity of sin.”
”False gods, attempts to represent the true God, and indeed, all material things which are worshipped, are so much filth upon the face of the earth, whether they be crosses, crucifixes, virgins, wafers, relics, or even the Pope himself. We are by far too mealy mouthed about these infamous abominations: God abhors them, and so should we. To renounce the glory of spiritual worship for outward pomp and show is the height of folly, and deserves to be treated as such.”
Spurgeon clearly took a shot at Catholicism in his exposition on this passage. But you could replace those elements with any others that become a substitute for worship, adoration and attention to the true and living God. And that’s an important point. Why would you put a dead, inanimate object on the throne of your heart, when the living Creator belongs there?
Idolatry is not just an Old Testament issue. John warned the church to be watchful of idolatry: “Little children, guard yourself from idols” (1 John 5:21). This tells us that idolatry comes looking for us. It’s everywhere, in every time and culture, because in every age and every location on earth, the temptation to worship something other than God has been a constant temptation.
Our hearts were made for worship. And if we don’t direct that worship to God, something else will take His place.