Exodus 32:1-6 - Spiritual Deserts
Where can you find peace while wandering through a spiritual desert?
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Read Exodus 32:1-6
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 up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 29
Q. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,”
A. Because he saves us from our sins.
Salvation cannot be found in anyone else;
it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.
Near the end of the movie Thor: Ragnarok, Thor’s brother Loki is freed by a group of escaped slaves and expresses to them, “You do seem to be in desperate need of leadership”. Surprisingly enough, the newly escaped group followed Loki’s lead.
Leadership is something that we desire. To see this in the world today, look no further than how countries are organized; typically there is an official head of the government known as the president, prime minister, or by some other title. The Old Testament book of 1 Samuel accounts how the Israelites wanted a king and asked the Prophet Samuel to appoint one over them. And in today’s passage we see this desire for leadership in the Israelites at Mt. Sinai.
Moses had gone up the mountain to speak with God. After a delay in his return, the people began to worry. Without any confirmation that anything had happened to Moses, they began looking for new sources of leadership. It would be one thing if they were looking for a replacement for Moses, but the reality was far more troubling. At the behest of the people, Aaron fashioned a golden calf; an idol which the people declared as “your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
The errors of the Israelites at Mt. Sinai are plentiful. Believing that Moses may have perished on the mountain, they look towards not someone, but something to lead them. They were not looking to replace Moses so much as they were seeking out a replacement for God. Despite God having saved the Israelites from Pharaoh's army, feeding them manna when they needed food, and leading the Israelites through the wilderness as a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night; it is astounding how quickly they started searching for gods to lead them in the absence of Moses, who had acted as mediator between God and the Israelites.
Where do you turn when God feels distant? A prolonged period of time where God feels distant is often referred to as a 'spiritual desert.' While many believers have experienced this at one time or another, experiencing a spiritual desert can be a sad and lonely place to be.
When God feels distant, the actions of the Israelites at Mt. Sinai stand as a great example of what NOT to do. Having lost their connection with God via Moses’ absence, the people tried to seek out a replacement. The problem with this approach is that there is no replacement for God.
While God may feel distant at times, this does not last forever. Remain faithful during the struggle. Spend time praying and reading scripture, even if it feels like a struggle to do so. Instead of seeking something to replace God, it will be far more rewarding spending that time in pursuit of God.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Holy Father, unchanging and omnipresent, even when we can't see Him;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will keep you from wandering away, even as you experience spiritual drought.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Hebrews 8