Modern False Idols (Week 18, Part 4/6) Exodus 24; 31–34 | Apr 25 – May 1 – powered by Happy Scribe
In the book of Exodus, Moses had a profound experience on the top of Mount Sinai, receiving a law delivered directly by God. But like all of us, he eventually had to come back to Earth, and that can sometimes be a discouraging experience. While Moses was up on the mountain, the people must have waited, awestruck, seeing flashes of light and fire in the clouds hovering on the mountain. But Moses was gone for 40 days, and the people began to panic at the thought that they might be stranded in the wilderness without the leader they’d come to depend on. In spite of the miracles they saw earlier, their faith in the God of Israel began to falter.
Having been raised in the middle of the idolatry of the Egyptians, the Israelites assembled against Aaron and asked him to make them a God to save them. Aaron obliged, and gathering together the valuables among the people, he began to fashion a golden calf. Aaron tried to have it both ways, fashioning the golden calf, but using it to announce a festival to the Lord. Meanwhile, the Lord warned Moses that he had to leave the mountain to stop the people from their folly. Moses came down off the mountain because the Israelites were in danger of violating the Covenant God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
One important clarification from the Joseph Smith translation in this passage is that God did not repent. The JST corrects this passage to read, and the Lord said unto Moses, if they will repent of the evil which they have done, I will spare them and turn away my fierce wrath. God didn’t need to repent, but he needed the people to repent. Sometimes in our day we scoff at the Israelites for wanting to worship a golden calf. But idolatry is a sin that persists even into our time.
In the doctrine Covenant, the Lord said that one of the causes of sin in the world today is that every man walketh in his own way and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world and whose substance is that of an idol. Idolatry is still one of the most serious sins we struggle with today, but it rarely comes in forms as obvious as a golden calf. President Spencer W. Kimball warned, Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self image that includes sufficient money stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishing, automobiles and the like to guarantee carnal security. Throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life.
There is an almost endless array of false gods that people worship in our day. False gods can show their faces at home, at work, or on the devices we carry everywhere with us. Just like the Israelites in the time of Moses, we seek the faster gratification that these false gods offer. Unable to devote the time it takes to have a genuine relationship with the real God. The Israelites couldn’t wait for 40 days, but many of us can’t wait for longer than 40 seconds to get what we want.
Sometimes, like Aaron, we try to meet between the worlds halfway, seeking to serve God while placating the idols around us. In all these cases, we forfeit the chance to receive the higher law and ascend up the mountain like Moses did. It takes time, patience and diligence to receive answers from God. In a world where convenience is another of the false gods we worship, the Lord rarely makes things convenient for us. But if we can keep our focus on the true and living God, the blessings he has in store for us can help us build a life full of joy and happiness and a relationship with the only God not made of metal or stone.