Worthless Gold

I love the book of Exodus. I love reading about the stories of Moses and watching them come alive for me. I love that every time I read something in that book, something new jumps out at me. The entire Bible is filled with great messages that make me think about my own life, but I’ve always especially loved Exodus.

I chuckled when I read the midwives’ defense of not killing the Hebrew baby boys when they were born: The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive” (Exodus 1:19). I wept as I nursed my first son and read that Moses’s mother gave him up to save him but she still got to share the most tender moments with her son as his nurse (Exodus 2:7-8). I counted how many times Moses refused to go where God sent him (five times – Exodus 3, 4) and pondered how many times I’ve done the same thing.

But I realized something else this weekend. I taught Sunday School yesterday and the lesson was on the golden calf. As I read through Exodus 32 to familiarize myself with the lesson, I read something that I never noticed before. After Moses saw what the Israelites had done to make this idol, verse 20 explains that he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

He made the Israelites drink it.

The Israelites were just rescued from captivity in Egypt. They just witnessed the Red Sea split so that the ground was dry beneath their feet as they crossed it. They were eating manna that literally fell from the sky as they waited for Moses who was with God on Mt. Sinai. They saw all the power and glory of God.

But they didn’t trust God. In fact, they seemed to trust only in Moses (who God was working through). They freaked out when Moses still hadn’t come down from Mt. Sinai and said to Aaron, “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” (32:1). For whatever reason, Aaron complied. He told everyone to gather all the gold that they own. Precious gold. Then, using their most valuable earthly possession, he made the golden calf who the Israelites then worshipped.

All of their precious, valuable gold went into this golden calf. Moses burned it, crushed it, threw it into the river, and as if that wasn’t enough, they drank it. Their most valuable possessions were gone with now completely worthless, all because they thought that they could make a god who would guide them.

How many times have I done that?

How many times has God taken me out of difficult situations?

How many times has He led me through impossible roads?

How many times has He provided beyond my wildest dreams?

And yet, how many times have I put my trust in my possessions, however valuable, only for them to become completely worthless? Why do I do that?

Do you do that? Do you thank God when he rescues you but quickly forget that He’s the one who saved you to begin with? Do you easily lose hope? Do you put your trust in things that cannot do anything for you when it was God who held you all along?