When the issues and concerns of your life weight heavy upon both your heart and spirit, what do you do? How do you begin to make sense of life, of your life when life seemingly makes little sense, and offers you greater consternation, confusion and challenges? When it seems or appears that you are caught up in changes beyond your immediate control, and you must either manage or control your responses to these seemingly constant and out of control changes, where is your solace found, where or how do you find respite or better peace?
With all that is on-going in our individual lives, the total lost of normality, the constant battering and assaulting of our sense of outrage, the disruption of our national sense of a unified nation, wanting moments or times of normal expectant adult behavior and a nation, and a people wishing for, striving for the commonality of living experiences such as enjoying time with family, with long time friends, meeting new people, precocious time spent with our children or grandchildren.
Such times that present us with precious moments, that become warm reflective memories we need such, yet sadly we live in a time of great division, divisiveness, opposition and anger, between family, friends, stranger fellow citizen. Sadly a time of falsehoods, deceptions and lies which continue to prove fatal to persons lives, as well as to our nations will to do and be a better people…
These are not the times, nor the plans that God has for us! We are informed in the Jeremiah 29:11-14, God’s plans for us, when the LORD declares;
“For I know the plans I have for, declares the LORD. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart…and I will bring you back.”
In such times as we now find ourselves, we people of faith, people of God either we cast our woes and concerns on and before the altar of God, or we like the ancient Hebrews who were fearful, were unsure, not fully comfortable and convinced in their hearts and spirit that God was with them, so they cast their woes in form of gold into a fiery form that gave them a golden calf, which they bestowed false attribute upon declaring it brought them out of the house of slavery out of Egypt.
It is critical important where you go, where you tun in times of need, in times of doubt. The Scriptures are mindful of this concerns and speak to it in a number of ways and times. The Psalmist writes;
“Cast your burdens upon the LORD and the LORD will sustain you. The LORD will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)
The wisdom of Proverbs cautions and counsels us this way concerning times of doubt, and wavering fears;
“Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be achieved.” (Proverbs 16:3)
We further in Scripture read these words of assurance, concern and care, that we ought to look to the one
“Cast all your anxiety on the LORD because the LORD cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” ( Philippians 4:6-7)
It is obvious and very apparent that persons, that people of God in times of uncertainty, doubt, fear and angst, are to take those fears, those concerns to God. Yet somehow, that was now the prevailing attitude and thoughts that the ancient Hebrews employed when or while Moses was communing with God, on their behalf I should add.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; 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.”
After having spent some 400 plus years in slavery in Egypt, where their life and existence was determined but others, to the point thy were not allowed to build temples and formally worship their God.
The first demand God had instructed Moses to give Pharaoh was to allow the Hebrews to go into the wilderness for three days so that they might specifically recall, remember and rededicate themselves to their Covenant with God. Their God, the God of their ancient ancestors.
It ought to be understood or considered that the 400 plus years the Hebrew people had spent in Egypt they had become lax in their worship and dedication to their God. So it ought to be understood given such, there was a lax adherence and commitment to being God’s people, exercising and knowing the rituals of tradition, and by having to exist and function under total control by the Egyptians that their faith in God, and others(i.e., Moses) would waver in times of challenge and trouble.
It should be understood after so much time under Egyptian rule it was easier enslaved Hebrews to understand, and begrudgingly appreciate the pantheon of Egyptian deities, and gods as powerful, Afterall, the Egyptians were a powerful people and empire.
It needs to be understood when we contextualize the Hebrew people panicking at the prolonged absence of both Moses and God, and their then demanding of Aaron who was left in charge to make them some gods who they would credit as having brought them out of Egypt, and shall now go before them as they journey.
So they demand and get their golden calf, and have lascivious celebratory worship… But God’s omniscience is fully engaged as well as God’s omnipresent-why, or how do we know this? God is multi-tasking;
Though fully engaged with Moses giving him the Law, Ten Commandments and instructions from Yahweh about the construction of the tabernacle as well as the vestments for and procedures for the ordination of the priesthood. Yahweh and Moses are deep into the details…But this is interrupted in verse 7 we read these terse words of God.
“7 The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8 they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel…”
I pray that we will not cast our woes and our concerns into empty shells praying they’ll produce for us our modern-day versions of our golden calf’s. The ancient Hebrews over the year’s had become lax in their temple worship of God, they were forgetting both who they were and more importantly whose they were, meaning “the people of God!”
Remember the first demand God had directed Moses to place before Pharaoh was allowing the Hebrew slaves to go into the wilderness for three days to rededicate themselves to their Covenant with God. To make and keep their Sabbath holy, to worship their God in Spirit and in truth. They had been denied such opportunities and rituals during their time of slavery oppression.
Our time has been a challenging time, a deadly microbe, a virus that takes every opportunity given it to spread by our breathing, our talking, our laughter, our touching, all acts that give and affirm our being members of the family humanity now forces us to abstain and be circumspect in the company and presence of others.
We also in practicing and adhering to principles of abundant caution, can not currently gather in our temples, our places of worship. So I invite you to take some time, make some time to drive to our church, park walk to the door touch it, pray for it, pray for the body of Christ, our Church family.
Re-commit, rededicate yourself doing this time of scarce in-person in-church worship to the rituals, to principals that express the nature, the compassion, the concern and most importantly the love of God, not just to the people of God, but to the total creation of God.
Do so, so as to not be vulnerable to making or creating your own personal golden calf.
“A song of degrees. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” (psalm 11:1)