“The people made a calf at Mount Sinai; they bowed before an image made of gold. They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull.”
Psalm 106:19-20 (NLT)
“They worshiped their idols, which led to their downfall.”
Psalm 106:36 (NLT)
It may be hard to imagine a nation like Israel bowing before an image made of gold. Even after all God had done for them, delivering them from slavery in Egypt, bringing them through the Red Sea on dry ground, providing water from a rock in the desert and feeding them with manna every day! How could they forget? How could they trade their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull? Yet, when Moses was away on the mountain with God for 40 days, the people got nervous without their leader. They demanded that Aaron make for them a golden calf that they may worship. They wanted a god they could see. They rejected the eternal God “their Glory” for a manmade piece of gold that could not see, hear, speak or act! In verse 36, the Psalmist records that the nations idolatry led to their downfall. The New International Version says their idols became a snare to them. The word in Hebrew for snare can be translated as a noose for catching animals. In other words, an idol is really a trap! We may not bow down to a golden calf today, but how often have we traded our glorious God for the snares of this world: power, pleasure and possessions? If we’re honest, we’ve all worshipped an idol instead of God. Anytime we put anything or anyone ahead of God, we commit idolatry. The very first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3 (NIV)
When most of us consider the Ten Commandments, we tend to view them as restrictive, limiting our freedom and fun. But behind every negative “Thou shalt not …” is a positive and powerfully liberating truth that will set us free to be all that God intended for us to be and experience a quality of life packed with the sheer adventure of His saving life!
When God says we are to have no other gods before Him, nor are we to worship an image or idol, He’s really saying He wants an exclusive and personal relationship with us! It’s as if He’s saying, “I want you to experience all of Me!” And we can’t do that if we allow anyone or anything to come between us and God. You were made by God and for God! He designed us with a God-shaped vacuum that only He could fill. He knows that our lives will only be complete when we are rightly related to Him. That’s exactly why He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to seek and to save those who were lost and estranged from Him. Have you opened your heart to Him? When you do, He promises to come in and fill your life with His love and presence.
The first commandment teaches us a powerful principle, the Principle of Priority – to put God first in everything we do. If you want God’s blessing in your life, put God first. If you want His blessing in your marriage, put Him first in your marriage as a couple. If you want His blessings in your finances, put Him first in your giving. Wherever you want God’s blessing in your life that’s where you need to put Him first. Jesus put it like this in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Dear God, I’m so sorry I’ve put _______________ before You. Today, I repent of worshipping an idol instead of You and ask You to forgive me. I choose to put You first in every area of my life, my time, my resources, my relationships and my decisions. Thank You that You will supply every need I could possibly have and that You alone are God! I want all of You!