Reading: Exodus 32:1-6
Have you heard this story before? Did you know that God was so angry with the Israelites for making a golden calf that Moses killed 3,000 men for worshiping that idol (Exodus 32:28)?
Most Americans can’t ever imagine bowing down to a statue the way that the Israelites did. But people don’t realize that anything can be an idol if it comes before our love for God. For example, when we are greedy and covetous, that is a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
Do you remember that when the Israelites entered Canaan, God told them to destroy all the people and all their idols? He did not want any of that to remain. God knew that idol worship would make the Israelites forget their love for him. And the same thing can happen to us if we put anything before God.
How to be Happy was written by Lydia Sigourney and published in 1833. Now out of print, the book is in the public domain and may be read freely online. The following is an excerpt from one of the chapters.
LOVE YOUR SAVIOR
His character, so beautifully related in the Bible, is worthy of your warmest love. You remember his obedience to his mother, his being subject to her will, even when his wisdom astonished the most learned men of the realm. May you also, my dear children, as you “grow in stature, grow in wisdom, and in favor with God and man.”
He shewed great tenderness to little children. He mentioned their humility as an example to his disciples. When they gathered around him, and others would have forced them away, fearing they might trouble him, he “took them in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
How patiently did he instruct the multitude, seeking for simple words, and striking stories, to teach them – their duty, and the worth of their souls. How pitiful was he to the weak and erring, sparing to condemn them, and telling them to “go and sin no more.”
How tender was he at the grave of his friend, where he stood with the mourning sisters. “Jesus wept.” Though his almighty power was about to call dead Lazarus from the grave, still he shared in the sorrow of those who loved and lamented him.
How sweet was his friendship for that family of Bethany. “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister and Lazarus.” Often, after the toils of the day, when he was wearied with the inattention of those whom he taught, he turned his steps, over the green vales of Bethany, towards that peaceful home. There he instructed them in the way to eternal life. “And Mary sat at his feet, and heard his word.” My dear children, may you like Mary, “choose that good part, which shall never be taken away.” What humility, did our dear Savior show, in his lot of poverty.
He honored the poor, for he chose to be of their company. Who shall dare to despise the poor, when his Savior was homeless. “The foxes have holes, he said, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” How perfect was his example of benevolence. The whole object of his mission to earth, was to “seek and save the lost.” To every variety of woe, he extended relief….He gave sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. He caused the dumb to speak the praise of God, “and the lame to walk, and the dead to live.” He gave knowledge to the ignorant, and showed to the whole world, the way of salvation.
Yet amid all this great benevolence, what ingratitude did he experience. Perhaps you feel, my dear children, that when you have exerted yourselves for the good of others, it is very hard for them to forget your kindness, and treat you ungratefully. And so it is. But you see that your Savior bore this treatment with gentleness. Whatcontradiction of sinners did he endure,” and yet continue to render good for evil. When falsely accused he set an example of meekness. “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” His disciples, whom he had taught as scholars, and loved as friends, and taken care of as children, forsook him and fled, when he was in trouble. In his time of suffering and agony, they did not stand by him. They were found sleeping. “They could not watch with him one hour.” One, whose hand he had held, when he was sinking in the sea, and raised him from the waves, denied that he knew his Lord and Master. Another, sold him into the hands of his enemies. At his last supper with them upon earth, he said, “Verily one of you shall betray me.” He knew the thoughts of their hearts, and yet continued his kindness to the infirm and to the vile. You remember that he prayed for those who nailed him on the cross.
And now, dear children, can you think of all his goodness, and all his sorrows, and his perfect example while he dwelt on earth, and not love him’? Shall he not be your dear Savior? Will you not pray to be like him? Will you not trust your soul to his care?…..
For Further Study:
- Read Exodus 32:4 again. Now read Deuteronomy 6:20-25. Why was it important for the Israelites to remember who brought them out of Egypt? Read Deuteronomy 8:11-20. What did the Israelites do when they forgot all that God had done for them? This shows us the importance of reminders. God knows that we are easily distracted and forgetful. Read 1 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 10:24; and 2 Peter 1:10-13. We have a duty to encourage and remind each other to follow God. The Lord’s Supper was given to us as a reminder also (read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). What is likely to happen when Christians forget these things?
- What other things do people put before God in their hearts?
When they pray in the name of someone other than God (1 Timothy 2:5).
When they follow someone else’s teaching without making sure that it follows the Bible (1 John 4:1).
When they worry about what people in the world think of us instead of obeying God (1 John 2:15-17).
When problems of the world, worries, or desire for wealth make us forget the Word of our Lord (Matthew 13:18-23).
- How did God put us first? How can you show God that you want Him to be first in your life?