Wednesday’s Word: Idol-worship


They made a gold bull-calf at Sinai and worshiped that idol; they exchanged the glory of God for the image of an animal that eats grass. Psalm 106:19-20



God led the Hebrew slaves out of bondage in Egypt. When they were trapped and their enemies were closing in on them, God parted the Red Sea, led them to safety, and destroyed their enemies. Moses left them on their own to climb Mount Sinai and receive the Ten Commandments from God. While he was gone, the people created a god for themselves…and what a gyp of a god they came up with: creature lower than themselves, a baby cow. What a chintzy god to settle for.




But isn’t that always the case? How could anything we come up with on our own compare to the perfect, all-powerful, all-wise God of love who created us? We sell ourselves short when we settle for less. Maybe you think we don’t worship idols like a gold bull-calf in this day and age. Think again. Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Hollywood bombard us with images of gold bull-calves all the time.




Gold: How many of us are tempted to sacrifice our time, our relationships, and our integrity for money and the luxuries it can buy? Investing our happiness in possessions is disappointing. When the thrill is gone we’re left wanting to go out and buy more, creating a spiral of trying to fill the emptiness that can’t be filled with things.




Bulls: The modern version of this image of power isn’t restricted to a bullish stock market. Bullying in the form of road rage, gang wars, school yard or social media intimidation are blatant, but what about the more subtle forms? The power we give to the opinions of others, economics and social policies that fail to address the needs of the vulnerable ones in society may be less obvious but are still damaging.




Calf: A calf is a young bull. Our culture seems obsessed with youth. Anti-wrinkle creams, cosmetics, and supplements promise to turn back the hands of time. What is that about? Could it be a form of denial of the inevitable end of our physical lives? For those of us that have only the gods of our own creation, what else is there to hang on to but what we can see and touch in the present? Who wouldn’t want to put off the end of life as we conceive it to be?




Let’s turn instead to the one God who is so beyond what we can imagine that it’s safe to trust him with our well-being, both here and in the hereafter. Twelve Step programs use the term Higher Power for God. If God truly is God, He must be a Higher Power, higher than anything we could come up with on our own. It is worth our time and effort to ask, seek, and find the glory of the true God. But as someone said, “It’s hard to find something that’s above you when you’re looking down.




Prayer: My Creator, help me look to you rather than to the idols I come up with on my own.




Reflection: Who or what am I relying on today?






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All Bible quotes are from the Good News Translation unless otherwise noted.


It is reassuring that Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors to be his followers. These were laymen, not Scripture experts. It is wise to seek guidance from religious scholars and clergy who have studied Scripture to avoid errors in interpretation. But the Bible is also a gift given to each of us, to use as a basis for prayer and meditation.


I’m not a Biblical scholar; I’m an expert only on my own experience. Following the Scripture passage is a brief meditation along with a question or two as a springboard for your own reflections. Please feel free to share your own thoughts or insights on the passage by adding a comment. All comments are moderated, so please allow some time for your comment to be posted.

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