(A fast update: the latest surprise assignment from the Lord as we’re here in Greece is that I will be the Sunday school class teacher for the middle-school girls–three of them. Pray for me! This is definitely out of my league. The girls are Olivia, Lilly, and Angela. I forgot how much that age group giggles! Also, April and I will be starting a weekly women’s Bible study. I think I’m going to lead them through the book of Hosea.)
In a previous post, I talked about the workings of idols in our lives based on Stephen’s defense of the faith (Acts 7:39-41). So here’s point three.
3. Stephen continues with his description of the Israelites, “for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt–we do not know what happened to him.’” (verse 40).
As I mentioned, Moses is up on the mountain communing with God and he’s been gone too long–at least that’s what the Israelites think. They’re getting nervous. They’re on their own and their safety net–Moses–is out of the picture. So they are looking for security and demand that Aaron make an idol in the shape of a calf. You can just “hear” the Israelites grumbling, “Where is this Moses? He and the God he represents aren’t coming through for us. God must not care for us very much if He’s preventing Moses from being with us. He has stopped performing for us according to our expectations and we’re feeling mighty nervous. We demand something to make us feel better.”
The concept of “demands” was a new one to me several years ago. Of course, I’d always been making demands, I just didn’t see it that way. A “demand” is anything we feel we need and if we don’t get it, we decide to take things into our own hands. Even if we can’t make it happen, we’re basically not trusting God and instead polishing our idol. That’s what the Israelites already had a pattern of doing. Psalm 78:18 says, “They [the Israelites] tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.”
Is there a way God isn’t coming through for you and you’re wondering “what happened to Him”? Does it feel like you must have that “thing” or “person” or “experience” for you to be contented, happy, or fulfilled? We can rightfully ask God to supply our needs but we can cross over the line from asking to demanding very easily. We can tell when we stepped over that line by our reaction: if it looks like we won’t get our “need.” We’re nervous. We’re tense. We react in anger because someone isn’t cooperating with our plan(s). And so we look to whatever will meet our needs–and that’s called an idol.
For years in our marriage, my demand was that Larry should meet my needs. My marriage was my idol. It was supposed to be my “source.” I felt justified in getting angry at Larry because he wasn’t coming through for me. After all, why else did I get married than to have him meet my needs?
Only through anguish did I relinquish the demand for Larry to be what only God can be: my Source. I gave up regarding marriage as my idol. Gary Thomas says that marriage is not intended for our happiness but our holiness. That’s an important idea.
Does it sometimes feel like you don’t know where God is? Or it feels like He’s not coming through for you according to what you expected? Can you identify some “demand” in your life that reveals an idol? If you can, you just might be stepping closer to preventing some ungodly response like anger, discontentment, etc.
In the next post, we’ll look at the fourth point for idol formation.