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Targeting Idolatry Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 29, 2021 1:00 am

Targeting Idolatry Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 29, 2021 1:00 am

It’s amazing how fast people forget. Right after Israel felt Sinai quake and saw Moses ascend the mountain, they turned to idolatry. We might be tempted to shake our heads in disbelief at their wandering hearts. But sadly, we also turn back to our idols after spiritual mountain-top experiences. In this message we learn what happened after Sinai, and what can happen to us.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

It's amazing how fast people forget. Right after Israel felt Sinai quake and Moses ascended the mountain, they turned to idolatry, just as we turn back to our idols after spiritual mountaintop experiences. Today, what happened after Sinai and what can happen to us?

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, it's amazing how quickly we can forget something God has done. Dave, you know, when I was younger, I would read the book of Exodus and say to myself, how could these people be so foolish?

God had just done great miracles. Why did they not remember? Why did they not continue to trust?

But I'm not so critical of them anymore when I look at my own life and the life of others. Isn't it true that God can bring us through a marvelous experience and we forget it and we're in the slew of despond and in despair and in unbelief? Well, that's what happened to Israel. But I have to say that in this book of Exodus, we have some of the greatest, most beautiful truths anywhere in scripture. For example, in a future message, we're going to talk about Moses seeing the glory of God.

We're going to understand that Moses failed at the finish line, but why he eventually won. These messages are available in two different forms. You can either have the audio, which you've been listening to here on the radio, or if you prefer, you can have these messages in book form. They're entitled Getting Closer to God. I need to tell you that this is the second to last day that we are making these resources available.

For a gift of any amount, what you can do is go to,, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, at the end of this message, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, but for now, let's listen to God's Word. Some time ago, Leadership Magazine had a cartoon. The caption was The Light Church, L-I-T-E. This church has 24% fewer commitments.

It's the home of the 5% tithe, the 15-minute sermon, the 45-minute worship service. We have only eight commandments, and you get to choose. An 800-year millennium, and only three spiritual laws, everything you've always wanted in a church and less.

Let me ask you a question. If you were to have only eight of the ten commandments, which eight would you keep, and which two would you jettison? It's interesting that in the history of the church, the second commandment has particularly often been ignored or reinterpreted so that it could be ignored. The second commandment says that thou shalt not make unto thee any image, both on things that are of the earth or in the sea, and thou shalt not bow down to them, nor shalt thou worship them.

But the second commandment has often been broken. As a matter of fact, the irony is that when Moses was on the mount there, on Mount Sinai, receiving the ten commandments of all things, the people were in the valley breaking the ten commandments. And the story is recorded for us in Exodus chapter 32. Exodus chapter 32. As you know, we are taking some snapshots in the life of Moses. We did not go into all of the information regarding the ten commandments and the tabernacle.

That would be a separate series of messages. But we pick up the story in chapter 32 because Moses is high on the mountain. And look at what's happening in the valley. Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, come, make us a god who will go before us.

As for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. What is it that leads people into idolatry? The impatience of God, or I should say our impatience with God, leads us into idolatry.

We want some fast results. We want to have it our way. We want God to get on with it. And when he doesn't, we turn to a God who will. That's why people go to fortune tellers, even though the Bible strongly speaks against the occult.

It's because they want to have inside knowledge. People look to stars because what they want to do is to be guided by those horoscopes because, after all, to depend on God and to make your decisions in faith seems to be impractical. Give me something that I can get a hold of independent of God. This past week I read of a woman who went to a fortune teller, by the way, if I may insert some humor in the sermon. And she said, I want you to tell me about your future. And the fortune teller said, prepare for widowhood. Your husband is going to be killed and he's going to have a violent death. And so the client asked a second question.

Would you please look into the future and tell me, will I be acquitted? There are ways to create your own future, you know. What I'd like to do today, since all of us are lovers of idols, and we are, one of the worst things we could do is to read the story as if it is a historical story only and not see ourselves in the portrait. What I'd like to do is to walk us through this scene and take us through the five stages of idol lovers. Five stages of idol lovers.

What's happening here in the text? First of all, as idol lovers, we make our own idols. We fashion them according to our own wishes. We pick up the story in verse 2, and Aaron said to them, tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me. Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he took this from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf and said, this is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.

You know what I think? I think that Aaron never believed for a month or a moment that the women were going to give up their earrings. When they decided that they wanted to have a calf or some kind of a god, he thought to himself, I'll make a golden calf, and I'm going to ask them for the gold, and the women and the men will not give up their jewelry.

He thought that would be the end of it, much to his shock. They took the earrings off of their ears and the bracelets from their hands, and they said, here it is. Make us a god. Now there are different kinds of gods. This happened to be a god that was fashioned by human hands. This was a god that actually represented the true god, Jehovah, or was supposed to. The reason that Aaron made a bull is because Apsis was the bull that they had learned about in Egypt. It was an Egyptian god. And do you know that when they fashioned this idol, they decided that behind it would be the living and the true god. It was to represent Jehovah. You say, well, how do you know that that's true? First of all, because it is certainly obvious that Aaron would not attribute their deliverance from Egypt to this golden calf that was before them.

That was unthinkable. In fact, the Bible even says that the heathen who make these idols actually worship the powers, the demons, that are behind those idols. But secondly, notice what it says in the text. Verse 5, now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, tomorrow shall be a feast to Jehovah, to the Lord. This calf was supposed to be a worship helper. That's what the calf was to be, just like some of you who grew up in churches that have worship helpers. You're not really supposed to pray to that statue, but the statue helps you to pray to the power that is behind the statue. And so they decided that this calf would represent God, the Lord.

But what had the Lord said in the second commandment? Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor bow down to it of any likeness actually. You see, there are gods that are made with hands, and then there are also gods that we sometimes construct, idols that we construct in our minds. You see, many of us don't like the living and the true God, as he is revealed in the Bible, and so we make up our own version of God. We do not abandon God.

Idolatry is not abandoning God. It is refashioning God. It is modifying God.

Can you imagine this? Julian Huxley in an interview on television said a number of years ago that the reason why Darwinism was so quickly accepted without any scientific basis is because we did not want God to interfere with our sexual mores, he said. Well, that's interesting. And there have been studies done in religion in Canada and the United States, and the discovery is that the God that Americans and Canadians worship essentially is a cultural God who has been remade according to the cultural fabric of our time. He is a tame God, a God that we can handle, a God that we can live with. Most people don't abandon God.

They refashion him according to their liking. Every time we want to disobey, every time we want to manipulate, every time we want our own way, we reconstruct God to fit what we really want to do. You're an idol lover. I'm an idol lover, and step number one is to fashion a God according to our liking. Step number two is we end up worshipping these gods, these idols. Notice it says that Aaron saw this. He built an altar.

He made a proclamation. Verse 6, so the next day they arose early and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and they rose up to play. Now, constructing this God had already cost them something.

It had cost them the gold that they had brought with them from Egypt. But no God is going to be satisfied with an initial down payment. Every God wants to have more and more, and so they offer burnt offerings and other sacrifices.

They are sacrificing these animals because that's what God demands, is sacrifice. You must understand today that every single God wants our allegiance. Any God that we construct, any God that we want, wants us to bow down and eventually to own us. And your God that you have constructed independently of the Lord God Jehovah wants complete, total ownership of your life.

Now, so does the living and the true God. You and I are individuals who are basically owned. We are owned by some God. We are not our own people. We are owned by whatever God we choose and we worship at that shrine. And so the Bible says that they worshiped God, in quotes, this new God, and even though worshiping a false God may be easy at first, it'll cost you more and more later on.

So what do we do? We fashion a God. We worship the God, secondly. And thirdly, we enjoy our God. It says that they rose up to play.

Now please hear me. That does not mean that they simply played games. It really is a euphemism for a sexual orgy. We know that from its interpretation in the New Testament in the book of 1 Corinthians where it talks about the immorality of the people. They said, we finally have a God that will let us do what we want to do. We don't want to simply stay within God's laws and now we have found a God that will give us the freedom that we think any good God should really give us. Isn't it interesting that the Bible says that when we construct idols, we always think that those idols are like unto us. It says in Psalm 50, you allowed people to commit adultery.

You allowed people to live in shame and derision. And you thought, God says, you thought that these idols were like unto me. You thought that this was like the true God. Isn't it interesting in Romans chapter 1 where Paul gives the origin of idolatry. By the way, most people think that religion has evolved and as it has evolved, it has become refined until you have the monotheism of Christianity and Judaism.

Actually, religion has always declined. Originally, people believed in the true God and were monotheistic and instead of evolution, there has been devolution. Just listen carefully while I quote portions of Romans chapter 1, who when they knew God, glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations. Their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God unto an image made like unto corruptible man, unto birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things.

Do you notice there is a devolution and what happens in the very next verse? Therefore God gave them over to vile passions. Their idolatry had certain results that they could enjoy. Every God, every false God has his payment time and as far as possible, he will want to make that payment a good payment so that you are hooked.

The people here now rose up to play. They enjoyed themselves and as far as they were concerned, they had fashioned a God who now was according to their liking. So much easier to obey than Jehovah. So what do we do as idol lovers? We construct the God, we worship the God, we enjoy the God and then number four, we are judged for those gods, for those idols.

Let's look at the text now. It says in verse 7, then the Lord spoke to Moses and said, go down at once for your people whom you brought up from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves and they have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them and they have made for themselves a molten calf and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and they have said this is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. And God even says, Moses, just let me alone and I'll just vaporize them. I'll wipe them off the face of the earth and then I'll start over with you. It's a very intriguing story because what Moses does is to say, no, don't do that because your promise, Lord, is at stake and the nations are going to say, well, the Lord was able to bring them out but he couldn't bring them in. Lord, it is your reputation that is at stake here.

You have to keep these people alive. And God loved Moses' prayer. But then in verse 15 it says that Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides, on one side and the other, and the tablets were God's work.

The writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets. Verse 19, and it came about as soon as Moses neared the camp that he saw the calf and the dancing and his anger burned and he threw the tablets from his hand and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire.

You must understand that this calf was probably constructed with wood and then overlaid with gold and Moses burns the thing and then he takes the gold and he grinds it to powder and he scatters it over the surface of the water and he makes the sons of Israel drink it. What he says is I want you to feel now the bad effects, the negative effects, the backwash of your idolatry. And just in the same way, God is continually doing this in people's lives. Whatever idol we hang on to eventually disappoints us and we find that bitter taste in our mouths and in our lives because we have hung on to it so dearly.

And so what happens in people's experience? That marriage that they decided that they would have no matter what God said about it. They knew better than God and they would go ahead without consulting him. They would not be too particular in submitting to his guidance because they had an idea as to what God maybe wanted to do in their lives and they said no and eventually the very thing that they craved has a bitter taste. And then there's that promotion that the person sought who was this overwhelmingly overcome by the desire to be promoted and to have this position and along with it come all kinds of compromises, all kinds of difficulties, all kinds of torn relationships because God begins to take the zing out of our idols. And then there's that real estate that people buy so that they might be able to have a wise investment and they discover that soon the price begins to drop and all of their hopes and dreams that have been wrapped up in that business investment come tumbling down and God is constantly stripping the idols away from us and pruning our lives so that we will not be caught up in that horrible sin that he hates so much idolatry. And so the people were judged for their idolatry. Notice what happens because the fifth point is that we must repent of our idolatry. We must repent of it.

That's step number five. If we are wise, we will repent. Here's an interesting sidelight into human nature. Verse 21, Moses said to Aaron, what did this people do to you that you have brought such great sin upon them? And Aaron said, well, do not let the anger of my Lord burn. You know the people yourself that they are prone to evil. For they said to me, make me a God who will go before us. For this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. And so I, you know, what are you going to do?

You live in a democratic society. I said to them, whoever has any gold, let them tear it off. And so they gave it to me and I. Well, really Moses believe this. I threw it into the fire and out came this calf.

Really, wasn't that neat? Moses you need to understand it's the kind of furnaces that we have out here. That's really the problem. You have to understand it's the people's problem. And then if they didn't make these kinds of furnaces, well, this would not have happened.

But what are you going to do? What a, what a furnace this is. It's the furnaces fault. Yes, I know we all think it's rather funny, but I want you to know today that Satan has a good excuse for any sin that you and I want to commit.

He's got a good excuse for it. And somehow it'll turn out that it will not be our fault, it'll be somebody else's fault, and it'll be the circumstances fault, and it'll be the other person's fault. But one thing is sure, we will not be at fault.

The desire to protect ourselves, the desire to make sure that somebody else is to blame is so overwhelming that we will arm ourselves with a pack of excuses and a pack of lies and we'll even blame the furnace for something that we ourselves have done. Personally, I find this passage of scripture very interesting because in a sense it's a template of today. We want to fashion God according to our image, the way in which we want him to be rather than accepting the way he is. And this goes back to the life of Aaron as an example of what we will do to get the God we want. I've written a book entitled Getting Closer to God. Now this book actually is based on the series of messages that you have just been listening to, Lessons from the Life of Moses. And I need to tell you that this is the next to last day when we are making this resource available for you.

And we do this to enable you to live the life that God intends, that we remember God, that we learn from the past and from his holy word. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to

That's Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you this contact information again, gives you time to get a pencil so that you can write it down. And I want to remind you once again that this is the second to last day that we are making available the book Getting Closer to God, Lessons from the Life of Moses. We'll discover in the book that Moses did not end well, but yet at the same time he ended very well.

And that will become clear in the last chapter. Well, for a gift of any amount, ask for Getting Closer to God. Go to Rtw, of course, is all one word. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Moses has been given many chapters in the Bible, and God says, learn from his life and my relationship with him.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Each of us has idols we like made in our own image. We're as guilty as the children of Israel. Today, Dr. Erwin Lutzer brought part one of Targeting Idolatry, the tenth in a series of 12 messages about the life and times of Moses, a man getting closer to God. Next time, targeting all the golden calves in our own lives. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-19 05:44:30 / 2023-09-19 05:53:24 / 9

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