Soon after God led the people of Israel out of Egypt, He met with them at Mount Sinai, giving them the Ten Commandments in written form, including the first two commandments about not worshiping other gods and not making idols (see Exod. 20:2-6). In response, the people promised to do everything they had been commanded and to live as His people (see Exod. 24:1-13).
But then Moses was gone up the mountain for almost six weeks and the people began to wonder what had become of him. Under pressure from the mob, Aaron made a golden calf and led the people in making sacrifices before it, after which “they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry” (Exod. 32:6, NIV). Both the Lord and Moses were outraged at how quickly the people had turned away from God to idol worship—and it seemed that it was only Moses’ intercession that saved Israel from its deserved punishment (see Exod. 32:30-34).
Idolatry, however, was a temptation God’s people fell into way too often. The history of the kings of Israel and Judah is punctuated by periods of idolatry, which include the outrageous acts some of the kings led their people to commit in the worship of these gods. Such unfaithfulness was a recurring focus of the prophets God sent in order to call the people back to Him. Often, too, amid the calls for revival and reformation, were calls for better treatment of the poor, the needy, and the helpless among them.
Read Psalm 115:1-8. What crucial point is the author making there?
It is a human tendency that we become like the thing or person we worship and focus on. So, it was only natural that concern for others and for justice would diminish when God’s people turned from worshiping a God of justice to worshiping the false gods of the surrounding nations, who were often styled as beings of war or fertility. When they chose other gods, the people changed their attitude in a lot of things, including how they treated others. Had they been faithful to the Lord, they would have shared His concern for those in need among them.
|Dwell more on this idea of becoming like what we worship. How do we see contemporary manifestations of this principle?|