The God Next Door
Exodus 32:1-5 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it.
During my teen years, I spent almost every day hanging out with a different family. I was rarely seen at my own home. I had a great family, with two loving parents and four siblings, but I chose to be with other families more than my own. The reason I did this was because, while I found my own family loving, I didn’t find them as cool, as funny, as open, or as new as the other families I sought to be a part of. This wasn’t my family’s fault, it was mine. They loved and accepted me for who I was. I just wasn’t willing to do the same at that time.
When it comes to God, it is our human nature to want something we can craft, something we can change. Calvin said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” We long to serve and worship something that we can manipulate and control; a god who is fashioned and formed by our carnal wants and desires. In Jeremiah 2:13, the prophet tells us the two evils we commit against God: we reject Him and replace Him.
While the Israelites were busy building themselves a god, the true and only God was next door, merely a few hundred feet away. They built the golden calf in view of Mt Sinai, where the Lord was speaking to Moses with thundering and lightning. But they didn’t want that God. They wanted a god who was mute, who wasn’t to be feared, and who would approve of their eating and drinking and playing. (v.6)
Our God loves us with an everlasting love. While His Spirit is constantly at work sanctifying us, the Lord loves us as we are. Yet, He requires us to love Him as He is. He refuses to be formed and fashioned by our hands. If we can’t love all of His perfect attributes, that’s not a problem with Him, it’s a problem with us. The Bible promises the greatest satisfaction as we show through our lives that “there is no God like our God, there is no God besides our God.”
Let’s remind ourselves and each other to stop creating our own gods, and worship the God next door, who dwells on His holy mountain yet lives in the depths of our heart.