Let’s look at the series of events that occurred as the children of Israel were leaving Egypt, which have major relevance to what is occurring in mainstream Christianity in our day. If we fail to learn the lessons of history, we’ll likely repeat the mistakes of history. It has to do with golden calf worship.
YHVH redeemed the children of Israel out of Egypt and set the slaves free. He blessed them not only by giving them their freedom, but by giving them the wealth (gold and silver) of Egypt as well. We read that the Israelites exited of Egypt with a high hand. They were victorious, free and wealthy.
YHVH led them into the wilderness en route to the Promised Land—normally an eleven day journey. They had some difficulties: Pharaoh tried to kill them at the Red Sea, they lacked clean drinking water, and they had food issues, but YHVH provided them deliverance from Pharaoh, gave them clean water, manna and meat, and they overcame these trials.
Next, YHVH led the Israelites to the foot of Mount Sinai, and on Shavuot he made a covenantal agreement with them and gave them his Torah as their national constitution. They agreed to obey him and to keep his commandments. He promised to bless them if they remained faithful to him.
Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah-covenant on two tablets of stone. While he was gone for 40 days, the people grew worried and anxious and become weary of waiting for Moses to return. This was a test they had to pass of their faithfulness. Would they be faithful to YHVH and keep his commandments, or would they stray spiritually from the path of righteousness YHVH had given them and they had agreed to follow?
The Israelites got tired of waiting, and took the gold from Egypt and turned it into a golden calf, and then they rose up to play (to party). They even called their revelry a feast to YHVH! They used religious verbiage like “YHVH” and “feast” to add legitimacy to their illegitimate activities, but this didn’t change the sin of their behavior. Sin is still sin regardless of how we attempt to cloak it in spiritual terms and costumes in an attempt to justify our wicked behavior.
Moses then came down from Sinai with the stone tablets, saw the people worshipping the golden calf and the people playing, and he brought judgment against those who were unfaithful to YHVH and rewarded those who had been faithful to him.
Let’s now analyze this story to see what spiritual lessons we can glean from it.
YHVH blessed the children of Israel by setting them free from Egypt, giving them honor as freedmen, taking them to himself to be his own special people, giving them a religion, a legal code and much material wealth. What was the first job assignment YHVH gave his people to do? It was to build a tabernacle so that YHVH might dwell in their midst.
YHVH gave the Israelites wealth from Egypt not only as a remuneration for their years of slavery in that nation (Torah teaches that a workman is worthy of his hire), but he gave them wealth so they could build him a home. Instead, what was the first thing the Israelites did with their wealth? They built a golden calf in honor of their past life in Egypt.
The golden calf represented the spiritual idols or strongholds of sin that were already in their hearts, and which they failed to leave behind in Egypt. Though the Israelites had physically come out of the idolatry of Egypt, they hadn’t gotten Egypt’s idols out of their own hearts. When the way of the wilderness became too tough and their faith was tested (i.e. would they remain faithful to YHVH in the time Continue reading