Two out of three seems like pretty good odds. That’s two chances to win out of every three tries, six out of every nine. That’s a 66 percent chance of getting it right. Two-thirds chance is plenty for many situations. A football team would love to know they have a 66 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, state or national championship. An old song from the 70s even mentions two out three ain’t bad. But what if your mother’s surgeon had a two-thirds success rate? That would mean the surgeon had a 33 percent chance of failing. What if your spouse answered your marriage proposal with “right now I’m two- thirds in?” I’m afraid for many in this world we are two-thirds in concerning our relationship with God. If this is the case, then the remainder is being filled with something that isn’t God and that something is idols.
Idolatry masks itself with reasoning and entitlement. To the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, God was a deliverer and wielded power over nature. They didn’t see him as a ruler. They were used to idols. They had been around them for 430 years. So the first thing they did was to create a god they could control. Moses descended from the mountain, with the law in his hands. He saw they had constructed an idol in his absence, and he became zealous for the Lord. He divided the idolaters, killed them, and cleansed the nation. In the book of Exodus chapter 32, verse 1 is clear that Idols are created out of the minds of man - out of the heart of desire and impatience. The people were so ignorant of the presence of God on Moses, they still viewed him as an outsider calling him “this Moses.” Worship has a price. It’s a sacrifice of something dear to us in order to enter in. Our pride, anger, selfishness must be revealed and checked at the door in order to enter into the holy place of worship. When the devil counterfeits, he makes sure the idolatry comes with a price. He knows it will mean more to us and be harder to let go. The people removed their jewelry and gave it to the idol. We create idols that appeal to our carnality - what our itching ears want to hear. Israel built an image despite all they had witnessed at the hand of God. They had experienced his hand of wrath, his hand of deliverance, and his hand of protection, safety and provision, but they had not experienced his face. They should have had a deep devotion to serve God after what they had experienced, but instead gave their created thing credit for what God had done. “Thanks a lot God for destroying the most powerful nation on earth. Thanks for doing the impossible. Thanks for the transfer of wealth from Egypt. Thanks for everything, but we will take it from here.” Moses took the idol they had made, burned and ground it to powder before them, and cast it onto the water and made them drink it. Moses then stood at the gate. He called the priesthood to his side. He had them strap on a sword and kill their brothers and family who sinned greatly. He gave everyone a chance, but still a large portion of the people wanted the control of idols over submission to God.
The priesthood of today is found in the fathers, husband, leader, or single mom, and it’s our job to stand before the Lord and be obedient to his will through spiritual authority. We are called to kill the very idea of idolatry in our families. Israel cried out for 430 years for God to give them back their dominion only to reject and lose it at the altar of an idol. They created the calf because for generations it was all they saw and knew. Egypt (the world) seemed to prosper and become more powerful under this influence - surely a little mixing of gods with “the living God” wouldn’t be too bad. Some theorize to drink of that water caused severe stomach pain and sickness. Yes, mixing The Living God with anything else upsets our system. Joshua said to the people later to choose whom you shall serve. Maybe he drank of it as well. Maybe he remembered what it was like to drink the water of idolatry. He remembered all that God did for them, he saw God move through Moses, he watched God move through him and the people, he saw victory after victory at the hand of God and knew it could only come from The Lord and reminded the people in Joshua 24:15 that to return to idolatry would mean to return to slavery.
Mixing idolatry into Christianity is the same as drinking bitter waters and pretending it’s sweet. It doesn’t take long to acclimate to the taste. Moses made them to swallow their own sin. Aaron became submissive to the crowd. He was the mouthpiece for Moses. He was the second in charge yet he caved under the pressure in the absence of his leader.
Moses ground the idol into powder. He cast it upon the water, and they drank it. Some theorize only those that worshipped the idol drank of it. Some say the fine gold gathered in their beards and the yellow glow made them easily identified for assassination. Some say it was the only water source and everyone eventually had to drink of it. Some say the particles would have given them severe stomach pains and diarrhea. But the progression of idolatry in our lives shows that eventually we will not only have the wrong smoke smell on us but we will also have it in us as a part of our very being.
The problem with an idol is that it’s deity is created in the mind of the creator or mankind. When left to ourselves and our lust and thoughts, we will most likely create an image that suits our desires (hunger). God commanded mankind not to make any graven image. An image is not an original. We are made in the image of God. We are a creation, a duplicate design with similarities. When mankind creates an image, it is a copy from a copy. That copy is so thinly duplicated that the enemy knows how to fill in the blanks and use it to distort our mind.
Let us help each other to identify the dangers of today’s American idols. Let’s start by diving deeper this Sunday at Christpoint Church on the square in Sparta. We would love to see you at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.