As ridiculous the idea of the title may be, the Israelites aren’t alone in their pursuit of what is deceptive and destructive. Who wants a god that can be “made” anyway? I read the account in Exodus 32:1, ” When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said,’ Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.'”
And Aaron……readily complied.
Their request is beyond reasoning! These are the same people who saw all the miracles in Egypt, the Red Sea, and the manna from heaven! All that first-hand knowledge/experience with the awe-inspiring works of God was not enough to last 40 days of waiting for Moses, who was to come back down from meeting with the Lord on the mountain. All it took to wipe out their memory of who God was and what He had done for them was 40 days.
It makes me wonder how they spent those 40 days and what they focused on? Did they remember all the miraculous signs and wonders? Did they talk about them around their campfires? Did they marvel at what they had seen and experienced with their children at the dinner table? Did they feel overwhelmed that a God such as THAT would call them out to be His very own?! Why were they not boasting at being chosen and the wonder of such a God as theirs?!
Boasting is to speak with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements, possessions, or abilities. It occurs when someone feels a sense of satisfaction or when someone feels that whatever occurred proves their superiority and is recounting accomplishments so that others will feel admiration or envy.
The Bible teaches us about appropriate boasting. Psalm 34:2-3 says, “My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exhalt His name together.” Another Psalm is found in 44:8, ” In God we will make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.” But my favorite is found in Jeremiah 9:23-24. It says, ” This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”
So what were the Israelites boasting in at their camp? Considering all the revelry (Exodus 32) they indulged in after Aaron cast the golden calf and attributed it with bringing them out of Egypt, I would say they boasted in their flesh. They gloried in what their hands had fashioned and the freedom it offered. They reveled in what their god of choice allowed them to do, the indulgence their flesh craved.
The sad thing is I see this happening in our day as well: God’s people glorying in what their hands “have made”. The gods in our day crowd out the place of our One and Only just the same. They rob Jesus of the rightful boasting He deserves.
I see how our boasting reveals the gods we have made for ourselves. One such god that readily comes to mind is how we glory in busyness. I am prone to this as much as anyone. It seems in our society, if you are not busy, then something is wrong with you. We relish our constant state of activity.
We have made it a lifestyle to be busy and not just a season to endure. Busy has come to equal worth. It is as if we feel that our busy lives reflect richness in success and satisfaction. And the price paid for all this busyness can be the richness in our relationship with our Savior. The god of a life packed with an excessive schedule is just as deceptive and destructive as the golden calf. It robs God of the intimacy He desires with His chosen children.
Speaking of children…..this is the next area of boasting that is rampant today. This was never so apparent to me than when Paris was recently attacked by terrorists.
The evening it was unfolding, I was watching a news channel and the news people had on one of their most famous reporters. This world renown reporter had a daughter at the site of one of the attacks. She was studying abroad and was attending the soccer game where the terrorists had detonated bombs. The chaos was in progress and there wasn’t yet full knowledge to the extent of the situation when this father came on air. He was obviously shaken and emotional. He had spoken by phone with his daughter at that point but she was still trying to find her way to safety. No one knew at that moment where or how many terrorists were near her. And yet, while in the midst of this terrifying situation, the father spoke of his daughter, explaining how she was involved in the worst attack on Paris since WWII, he added how she was a straight A student.
I was stunned. Really? Is this the time to boast of her achievements?! Does ANY of that matter at this moment?! Is she more precious because she earns excellent grades? Would you be any less concerned for her welfare if she were an average C student?
As much as this seemed ridiculous at that moment, it reminds me of the absurdity of the Israelites “making a god “. Obviously, if a god can be made, it is not a real God. We may attribute it as a god but it has no power or authority except that which we ascribe it. Sometimes gods are “made” though without us even realizing it.
The Paris incident typifies another such god of our day; we boast of our children and their achievements . The root of boasting is excessive pride. The only thing we are to be excessively proud about is our Lord and Savior!
Yes we can be proud of our children as they honor us with their obedience and respect, along with their successes. But when did it become in good taste to parade it in front of others. The destructive temptation to advertise on social media, or even in the grocery aisle, the accolades of our children is bringing idolatry to our Christian community. It is in the depth of specifics given about their grades, or awards, or sporting feats that conveys superiority and is complicit in provoking others to envy. It is as if the parent’s praise is not enough for children now a days. The whole community must know and applaud. This mindset used to be saved for worthy achievements such as Olympic athletes.
I would ask, why do we feel the need to share those kind of details? Why must words like gifted, or honors, or AP courses be mentioned? Why must we share how proficient our children appear in a given area? Would our grandparents have shared such info publicly? Absolutely not! There is a difference in saying our child is passionate about school or a sport or piano without conveying their GPA and MVP status. There is a difference in a parent’s personal honor felt about their children and the public display of pride.
Are we as quick to share their losses or failures? Are we as quick to post their corrections from their teacher or their social struggles publicly? Do we act like only great things are happening in the lives of our family? This type of public persona of family life is not balanced, nor is it accurate. We are living in hypocrisy when we flaunt the good while hiding the pain. I am not saying we should “over share” all the details about our children but that we should have some discretion. I am also suggesting we examine our motive in sharing some of the details of our children’s lives.
So as crazy as it sounds to “make a god “, I caution us all to examine what our own hands are busy doing. Our boasting either testifies for us or against us as the Lord examines our heart and motive. We are either building up our own superiority, or His.